As someone who is continuously looking for ways to efficiently plan ahead, and always finding ways to improve my organisation and surroundings, this topic is quite a favourite of mine.
I recently decided to showcase my planner and day-to-day organisation through a video which was quite a challenging, yet fun, experience to try out. Instead, I will be showcasing my way of organising through a written piece (with pictures).
The entire purpose of this is, well, I am simply quite fond when it comes to personal development; organisation; ways to improve daily thought processes; and how to fit everyday tasks into a clean (organised) manner.
After reading countless books and exposing myself to as many authors about personal development and organisation, it’s very clear that: we all have very limited time. Time is the most important essence we all have, and we all have the exact same amount of time in a day as everyone else. So why is it that we feel out of control, and there never appears to be any solution to improving our daily routine?
My experience with planning and organising has come a very long way, all the way back to secondary school, where having your agenda to note everything down was crucial. Although, I wouldn’t consider that simple agenda (from secondary school) to have led me to be here where I am now, I still find it quite an important piece, amongst other experiences and skills that I’ve learned.
Whether it’s easier for you to digitally plan or physically plan everything down, we all have our own preferences into what works best for ourselves.
I have tried daily planners, calendars, Google Notes, notes on mobile, blank journals, and lastly, bullet journals. To my surprise, I have tried quite a few things, and all of these have helped me curate a means of organisation that I am happy and consistent with today.
Whilst I feel that creating my own organisation with pen and paper has helped me come a long way, there is something different (and easier) about having everything at the tip of your finger, when you organise your planner and daily life digitally. It’s easier, faster, it saves me time and hassle, and it’s everywhere, from my phone to my desktop — I simply don’t feel out of control anymore.
So, let’s get into it.
Day to Day Planning
My everyday day-to-day planning looks very much like this (perhaps with more things throughout, and some weeks looking emptier). Each week is always different from the rest.
A personal space or desktop is a new beginning. It helps get you started even when you feel like you’re not up to it. It’s your way of starting a new day, with fresh ideas and aspirations.
Every night, I like to sit down and plan the next day ahead of me. I like to break this up into 4 sections; Morning, Afternoon, Evening and Night. I find by breaking up your day, you know exactly when and at what time of the day, you will be completing a task at hand. For me, this method is most efficient to getting things accomplished.
I am notifying my conscious self, to work on these things that I have set out to do.
This can easily be changed to a weekly planner. However, I find that planning for each day, is easier and I can keep better track of what needs to be done (as well as staying consistent). Many things change throughout the day — there’s no need to put extra pressure on yourself if you don’t achieve something that you have noted to do in a particular week.
As I have these in plain sight, it’s easier to accomplish everyday challenges (whether it’s life or work related) under strict deadlines and by planning ahead of time.
For everyday planning, there are many things that are being assigned to us, no matter how much we plan or remember to do something, a task won’t get complete unless it’s written down, physically or digitally. Our brain has already too many things to compute. Every second of the day you’re thinking and creating decisions (decisions that lead to ‘decision fatigue’), where there are almost too many tasks at hand to do, which we easily lose track of — and ultimately forget about.
If there’s something I am unable to accomplish in a day, or requires extra time to complete, I make a note of this in the “Current Tasks” list. To put it simple, this is a way of achieving a very simple to-do list to follow. There are 5 main components to a fully established list: The Task Meaning, The Task Status, The Task Difficulty, The Task Priority and The Task Deadline.
By following these 5 simple components, I am planning ahead of time of what is needed of me, and I can keep track of almost everything simply by staying consistent and up-to-date.
Each task is pre-determined with a task template.
A task is broken down into a template. You can create as many templates as you want within Notion, and name them to specific reasons/roles (i.e. work template, job template, habit template etc).
For this template, I have added 2 main sections:
- Action Items; and
Once a task is complete, the outstanding components are added (priority, status and difficulty). I can tackle it either right away, or when the task is needed.
By following a simple, and consistent routine, you are less likely to forget and fall behind — everything can be much simpler by making things easier for yourself, and what works best for you.
As part of the main, desktop, page we have the calendar. If you’re struggling to remember someone’s birthday; a special occasion; or even a meeting, it’s likely you don’t have a calendar. Or you do, albeit, are not very efficient with it. A calendar is necessary, whether this is for work, life or school. It’s a way to keep track of important dates, visually. Google Calendar has helped. Yet, I always felt something was missing from it.
The calendar structure I have followed is quite simple: I add in what is important and what I need to see visually coming. This means project deadlines, product updates, birthdays, appointments, important dates, payment dates and more. I have organised these by separate tags, so I know which event corresponds to which part of my life.
Each addition to the calendar is set with a deadline (for more actionable events), as well with a notes section for if I need to be reminded of something in particular.
Life and Hobbies
It’s important to also venture in using your creative and organised space for personal aspirations and things you want to accomplish, whether it’s through various resolutions or milestones you want to make throughout the year.
Notion is to be used and experimented for anything you want. A few of my personal favourites are for tracking my habits, monthly finances, reading and web development goals.
As much as we all say we’re taking time out for ourselves, a lot of us still struggle to find time to breathe. Taking time out of your day to feel present in the moment, is still very difficult, with the overwhelming amount of never-ending things to do. Your mental health and belonging should be of high importance to you.
I use the simple habit tracker from Notion. I’ve altered this to fit tasks that I feel make me happy. This is completely customisable to yourself and what you want to work on.
A few things that I like to follow through: Walking/Exercising, Sleeping 8 hours, Eating a Healthy Meal, Reading, Gaming, Coding and Language learning. Whilst, there is a limited amount of time in a day and not everything can be done, your habit tracking is there to prompt you — not to intimidate you. It should be treated as a simple tracker, and not something you feel obliged to follow through every-day.
Monthly finances are always important to keep track. As everything is moving swiftly to a digital world, it’s now easier than ever to keep track of your spendings. My monthly expenses layout came from inspiration with bullet journaling.
Every month, a spread would be dedicated to how much I spent in a month, to keep on record. This has helped me look back on every month and see what I can be doing better. I organise this by various factors:
- The date of purchase;
- The item purchased;
- The type / category of purchase;
- The cost/value;
- The paid status; and
After following this simple routine for several months, I was able to curate a whole section towards my expenditure — seeing everything visually written down, helped me understand where my money was going.
As for probably my favourite part of the entire set-up, reading plays a huge role. I like to think of reading like meditation — they are relaxing in both ways and they help you traverse to a new state of mind. Reading, for me, is essential to my overall daily habits. Without reading, it leaves me in an endless circle of worries, stress and anxiety.
An easy way for me to keep track of my reading is by having my own, bookshelf (with additional components). It allows you to keep track of the books at hand, by adding in every new book. At the top, are books that I have either already read, or I’m currently reading.
Other important sections to the bookshelf is the status, the start/end date, a personal score of the book, the author and a quick summary. After browsing online and looking into different methods on how to remember everything I read (I highly recommend this video) recalling and understand the meaning behind a book’s story has never been more easier.
For the final page in this Notion set-up, it is for my web development goals. A hobby you enjoy is much like a passion. Having a desire to keep on learning will enable you to become a better self. You can pick anything, and you can start right now, so why not learn something new? You might find out that you enjoy it.
An example list of keeping track of new hobbies or passions, is through goals. Each column represents “Ideas & Goals”, “Currently Doing” and “Completed Goals”. For each idea or goal in mind, these are added into a template card.
An idea can be anything or a goal you wish to complete by a certain date. The template card benefits in solidifying why you want to do this very task and urges you to take action by writing down the core steps in achieving your goal. By preparing what you need to do, how you will step-in and tackle your goal, you have an elaborate plan and a ground understanding of what to expect.
Your goals and aspirations will become part of you.
If you’ve read all the way here; thank you. I hope this has sparked interest in getting you motivated, ready and organised on how you can tackle everything whether this is general life, working from home, habits or learning. Everything can be made simple and easier for yourself. 😊