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The Best Way to Plan Your Day

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Time has a funny knack for running away with itself and leaving you in the dust. It can even seem like the more time you have to do something, the more time that something will take. One way to combat this strange effect is to block out the time in your calendar.

I’m going to explain my twist on this classic technique, and do a little step-by-step of how to utilise it using Google Calendar.

Calendars

Calendar blocking is one of those things I assumed wouldn’t work for me because it seemed too rigid, always feeling like life wouldn’t line up with whatever my plan happened to be. This is why I use two different calendars in conjunction – the ‘planning calendar’ and the ‘reality calendar’.

The Planning Calendar

To use the planning calendar, simply look at the time you have available to you and block out the things you want and have to do. Make sure you allow for productive sessions and downtime! Word on the street grapevine is that a picture speaks a thousand words so it’ll probably be quicker just to show you an example.

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What the hell is gravel?

As I’ve talked about in an earlier article, I constantly use the pomodoro technique. This means that I work in 25-minute bursts followed by a 5-minute break, and then I take a 30-minute break after four sessions. I find this breaks up the day nicely.

Calendar blocking is a really useful procrastination killer because once you’ve planned to do some yoga at 07:30, you’re then far more likely to get it done, compared to just having a vague plan to do it at some point.

Breaks

It’s tempting to only allocate a short time for food breaks but in my experience, you’re far more likely to work more happily and effectively if you allow yourself decent length breaks.

Also, make sure your breaks are not related to your activity. If you’re doing some work at your desk, make sure your break doesn’t involve sitting on a laptop; if the activity is physical, make sure your break is restful, etc.

Reality Calendar

The main reason I’ve struggled with this technique in the past is that it just feels unrealistic to decide what you’re going to do with each minute of your day, and then expect it all to go exactly to plan. So I introduced the reality calendar to the process.

As you might expect, the reality calendar outlines what actually happened in… reality. Here is my purple reality calendar next to the green planning calendar from two paragraphs ago.

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Reality is purple, who knew!

Looking back at what has actually happened is invaluable when trying to work out why your plan didn’t go well, as you can see exactly how much time you ended up spending on Instagram/Silk/Facebook/ToneMatrix.

You can then use this information to improve your next round of planning. For example, looking at the calendars above I could allow more time for the ‘Breakfast, Teeth & Empty Journal Inbox’ part of my day.

Step-by-step

I use Google Calendar for this because it’s what I use day-to-day anyway, and it tends to sync across all of my apps.

Another totally viable option is using a paper calendar with two different coloured pens. The main reason I stick with the digital version is that I like the ability to chop and change things easily, and there’s a reasonable chance I would end up in a frustrating pile of mess using a paper calendar.

Here is how to set up your very own ‘Planning’ and ‘Reality’ Google calendars:

  1. Go to the Google Calendar website.
  2. Click the cog in the top right corner, then settings.
  3. Click ‘Add calendar’, then ‘New calendar’ in the left-hand bar.
  4. Type ‘Planning’ in ‘Name’, then click ‘CREATE CALENDAR’
  5. Repeat the above step for the ‘Reality’ calendar.

Now both of your calendars have been created, you can start your plan:

  1. Click the arrow pointing left (next to the word ‘Settings’ at the top left of the screen) to go back to the main calendar view.
  2. On the top bar click ‘TODAY’ and make sure the drop-down box next to the settings cog says ‘Day’ rather than ‘Week’ or ‘Month’.
  3. Drag in the blank space in the middle for the time you require eg) 1pm–3pm.
  4. Write your activity eg) Journaling, make sure the Planning calendar is selected and click save.
  5. Repeat steps 3 & 4 until you’ve finished your plan.

I tend to change each calendar entry from the ‘Planning’ calendar to the ‘Reality’ calendar as I go through the day. I’ve found that if I don’t keep on top of it then time will do that thing where it runs away with itself (like we talked about 14 paragraphs ago).

Try It Out!

This is such a simple one – I find that it allows me to achieve more with my time in a less stressed manner, and who couldn’t use a bit more of that in their lives?

Super interested in hearing from you about this one (in the comments). I really suggest giving it a go, you’ll soon know if it’s not the one for you.

Unsure what to plan in your calendar? Perhaps you will find some inspiration in my journaling or yoga articles.
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2 responses to “The Best Way to Plan Your Day”

  1. […] Well fear not dear reader, I have relevant articles to recommend! First up, set some intentions of what it is that you want to do, and then turn these into a reality by effectively planning each day. […]

  2. […] Well fear not dear reader, I have relevant articles to recommend! First up, set some intentions of what it is that you want to do, and then turn these into a reality by effectively planning each day. […]

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