Preview: You can feel in control instead of allowing your day to control you. Learn the three benefits of having dedicated time to plan out your day.
I’ve heard from many of you that you don’t have dedicated time to plan out your day for several reasons, including:
- I don’t see the point.
- I don’t have time.
- I don’t know what to plan.
- Why bother when the day is so unpredictable anyway.
Do any of those resonate with you?
In this post, we’ll look at three benefits of having dedicated time to plan out your day so that you can feel in control instead of allowing your day to control you.
Benefit 1: Reduces Decision Fatigue
Planning out your day reduces decision fatigue. As you go throughout your day, you are constantly making decisions about what you’ll do next, which requires energy and effort. The more energy you expend making a decision, the less energy you’ll have to complete a task. When you have a plan for your day, you can reduce the number of decisions you need to make and, as a result, reduce the amount of energy you need to expend deciding what your next step should be.
A friend and I were talking about her struggle with feeling overwhelmed and not knowing what to do. When she looked at her list each morning, she didn’t know where to start. She felt paralyzed, and she ended up accomplishing very little. She said she felt like she was spinning her wheels and getting nowhere.
At one point in our conversation, I asked a question that stopped her dead in her tracks. I asked if she had considered planning the night before, so she could wake up knowing what she wanted to do. It’s a simple yet profound concept. When I checked back with my friend a few weeks later, she was feeling much more in control; more of her days felt purposeful. She was accomplishing more, and most importantly, she was not feeling decision fatigue as she tried to decide what to do because she started planning her days the night before. She knew what she was going to focus on when she got up.
Benefit 2: Minimizes Fires
There is always something urgent demanding our attention, or at least it seems urgent. President Eisenhower to decide what needed his attention. All tasks and activities fit into one of four quadrants based on their urgency and importance.
Some tasks are urgent and important, but more often, one of two things happens.
- It seems urgent and important because someone else says it is, but it isn’t urgent and important to us.
- We ignore an important task because of the other fires we’re putting out until this task becomes urgent.
When we take time to plan, we can focus on important tasks. We know when we have the margin to drop what we are doing to help someone else, and we can plan time to work on important tasks instead of allowing them to become an urgent fire. As my friend discovered, knowing what is important to us helps minimize the fires or their severity.
Benefit 3: Reduces Stress
Stress is our body’s response to a situation. Planning your day and managing your time can cause a variety of responses depending on your approach. It could cause anxiety, fear, guilt, or shame. You might have FOMO (fear of missing out) because you’re not doing things other people do, and you think you need to be doing them. Or it could give you calm, purposeful attention.
When you know where to focus your attention, you have a plan of attack for the day. You don’t need to wonder what you’ll do next or second guess your decision; you can do the next thing on your list. I love the poem that Elizabeth Elliot popularized, called “Do the Next Thing.” It is a good reminder to focus on the one next thing you need to do.
From an old English parsonage down by the sea“Do the Next Thing” Elizabeth Elliot
There came in the twilight a message to me;
Its quaint Saxon legend, deeply engraven,
Hath, it seems to me, teaching from Heaven.
And on through the doors the quiet words ring
Like a low inspiration: “DO THE NEXT THING.”
Many a questioning, many a fear,
Many a doubt, hath its quieting here.
Moment by moment, let down from Heaven,
Time, opportunity, and guidance are given.
Fear not tomorrows, child of the King,
Trust them with Jesus, do the next thing
Do it immediately, do it with prayer;
Do it reliantly, casting all care;
Do it with reverence, tracing His hand
Who placed it before thee with earnest command.
Stayed on Omnipotence, safe ‘neath His wing,
Leave all results, do the next thing
Looking for Jesus, ever serener,
Working or suffering, be thy demeanor;
In His dear presence, the rest of His calm,
The light of His countenance be thy psalm,
Strong in His faithfulness, praise and sing.
Then, as He beckons thee, do the next thing.
The three benefits of dedicating time to plan out your day are that it:
- Reduces decision fatigue.
- Minimizes fires.
- Reduces stress.
It doesn’t matter when you plan your day to realize these three benefits. I prefer to plan the night before so that I can go to bed knowing that I have a plan and don’t have the subconscious anxiety caused by the unknown, which helps me to avoid surprises. But you could try different options. My daughter tried planning her day the night before for a week, and then she tried planning in the morning for a week before deciding which option she liked best.
If you are ready to stop putting out the fires and start living purposefully, consider taking the Take Back Your Days Challenge. This five-day email series shares my top five tips for getting your day under control. You’ll learn
- Why you don’t need the perfect planner and the one thing you should do every day.
- How you can stop saying “Busy, busy busy” like the rest of the world.
- How you can set boundaries and say “No.” so that your calendar isn’t so full and you can enjoy a day at home.
- The four-step process that I use to teach my children new chores and skills so they can assume some of the responsibility for maintaining our home.
Plus, you’ll get access to the Daily ATM planner that I use every single day during my dedicated planning time and have for the past two years. It’s the only planner I’ve stuck with for longer than six months. I hope you’ll take the challenge and make time to plan your day so you can realize these benefits
This is the fourth post in a Take Back Your Days Challenge Week. Be sure to check out the other posts in this series.
- 1: How The Rocks In A Jar Analogy Can Help You Fit More Into Your Day
- 2: How To Know Your Priorities And Let Go Of Fear, Guilt, And Shame
- 3: How Realistic Expectations Help Me Plan My To-Do List With Confidence
- 4: 3 Benefits Of Scheduling Time To Plan Your Day
- 5: You Can Stay On Task By Eliminating These Three Common Obstacles