For the first article in our Find Your Flow series, we cover why you should have a daily task planning ritual to decide on your priorities for the day.
Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe
- Abraham Lincoln
Every good day starts with a plan. One of the principles we’ve built into Taskable is to begin each day with a planning ritual. Here we cover how and why daily task planning works, some tips and tricks, and finally, how Taskable makes daily task planning a breeze.
There are four main steps to take in the daily task planning ritual.
Step one is to check your calendar to know which meetings you have and thus how much time you have to get work done.
Step two is to organize and clean your new tasks. This might include adding a due date, assigning a priority, adding any notes that might be helpful, and whatever other information you need to complete the task.
Step three is to review your backlog of to-dos and pick your top priorities for the day.
The final step is to arrange tasks in the order you want to tackle them, so as you go throughout your day, you don’t need to think about what to do next.
Task planning reduces mental fatigue. You get to make all decisions about your day in one go. Then as you go through your day, you hit each priority one by one. Additionally, once you have your daily task priorities, you don’t need to keep referring back to a long backlog of to-dos. This helps you avoid getting overwhelmed, second-guessing decisions about your priorities, or finding something fun or new to work on rather than something necessary.
Another reason to do task planning is that having a plan for the day helps you avoid your inbox dictating your day. Without a plan, it’s easy to chase shiny objects and work on the most recent things to fall into your lap. But almost inevitably, the most recent items are not the most important. When you have a plan, you are less likely to get distracted by new things, and instead, stay focused on your actual priorities.
Finally, when you plan each day, including checking your calendar, there are fewer surprises. There’s nothing worse than forgetting you have some big meeting or project due. You reduce surprises and stress if you know what to expect each day.
This process should be pretty quick - somewhere around 5 minutes. And you’ll save time if you set a priority level for each task that lets you put the highest priorities at the top of your list.
You should also limit the number of items you add to your daily task plan. Too few, and you might finish too early. Then it can be hard to motivate yourself to go back to your backlog and pick new items. Too many, and you might get discouraged because you never get through your daily list. Be sure to set attainable targets, so you do get that joy of completing all your tasks at least a couple times per week.
Finally, some people find doing their daily task planning ritual the evening before works best for them. I’ve tried it but have never found myself with the energy at the end of a long day to start right in on thinking about the next one. But, if this sounds appealing, give it a try!
Taskable really is built around this daily planning ritual. Here’s how we suggest you approach it.
First, when you log into Taskable each morning, you’ll see My Day, where you can quickly check your meeting schedule for the day.
With your schedule in mind, head over to All Tasks to start planning.
Start in your inbox (if you have integrations set up). Here you’ll find the new tasks created from your integrations and Chrome extension. Assign each a due date, and importantly a priority level. If it’s something you need to work on Today, add it to the Doing column, meaning it’s something you want to get done today. If it’s something that can wait until another day, add it to the To Do column.
Next, scan your To Do column - think of this as your backlog. You can sort your To Do column, which we highly recommend. Particularly powerful is the Priority sort. The highest priority items appear at the top of the list, with the due date as the secondary sort. This makes it super easy to just grab the top priorities and add them to your Doing column. You can also sort by due date here as well to make sure nothing slips through the cracks.
My goal each morning is to get 7-10 items into my Doing column, as the things I want to accomplish that day. Depending on how bulky your tasks are, this number will vary. Play around with this until you find the right balance.
The final daily planning task is to head back to My Day view and put your tasks in the order you want to tackle them. Doing this takes away decision fatigue as you go about your day. Just keep moving down your list until you get to the bottom.
Pro tip: create yourself a daily recurring task in Taskable for your morning planning routine.
Along with my daily planning ritual, I need to get a few other things done every morning. So, I created a daily recurring ‘Morning Routine’ task for myself. I never forget to do it this way, and I have an easy and familiar way to start my day every morning.