Do you ever feel overwhelmed about your workday? Maybe don’t feel like you’re getting enough done? Like there is just too much to do. You start every day with the intention of getting a lot done but next thing you know its dinner time and all you’ve done is deal with bullshit.
I used to be the same way.
I would come into work, think about everything that I had to do, and then it wouldn’t get done. The work day would be finished, and I would find that much of what I wanted to get done for the day didn’t get done because I didn’t know how to start.
One day, I decided that I was going to take control and stop letting the day kick my ass.
What I found works best for me, and what may help you overcome the paralyzing effect of too much work, is having a solid plan for each day that I can execute.
Today I’m sharing how I plan my schedule each day to maximize productivity.
Start the Night Before
What works best for me is planning the workday either the night before or at the end of the previous workday.
I like this time of the day because customers aren’t calling me, employees and colleagues aren’t around, and I can sit back with a little bit of peace and clarity to think about what needs to get done the following day.
Forget about doing it in the morning. You’ll have too much on your plate and an avalanche piling up if you don’t have your day planned out before. You know what I’m talking about. You plan to make your plan on the drive into work only to be greeted by too much traffic. You delay it until you get to the office, but as soon as you walk through the door the ‘hey boss’s start flying and you go into firefighting mode before you can even get that plan kicking.
To get an accurate picture of what’s going to happen the following day, you need to put it in black and white. Taking a mental note doesn’t work. No matter how great your memory is, a hectic first hour of the morning will leave your head frazzled. For me, a simple notepad file on my IPhone does the trick. It helps me organize my thoughts, and having list the following day helps me stay on task even when those little things start going wrong.
It’ll even help you sleep better. Ever lay there in bed with thoughts running rampart about those emails you need to send first thing, and jobs you need to check on before your crews rollout? I’ve been there. All those neurons firing in your head isn’t good for your sleep or psyche. Taking those thoughts, and putting them onto the to do list is a relieving feeling. Once you note it all out, you’ll feel the pressure float away and rest well. You’ll also likely be surprised at how short the list is compared to how much it ‘felt’ like you had to often. Just a few tasks can keep your brain pre-occupied beyond belief.
Now, let’s take a look at how I break down my day.
I usually use the first hour or so of the day for general housekeeping tasks. When I come into work, it’s mostly management tasks that need to get done.
Sorting out what crews are going where after a customer unexpectedly cancels.. Making sure the crews know what is expected of them by the end of the day. Issuing a backup gas card because one of the trucks is on E and the gas card is missing. Updating the sales team with what priorities need to be tended to right off the get go and making sure all the tech is working.
If I come in without any guidance, things do slow to a grinding halt and productivity flops.
My Peak Time
When I talk about ‘peak time,’ what I mean is the time of the day in which I accomplish the most work. For me, I’ve found that I’m most productive between 10am-12pm.
For you, it might be different.
It’s important to figure out what your peak work time is because it’s the time in which you should schedule your most important, challenging tasks for the day.
For me, that means big picture type stuff.
I usually spend my peak work time thinking about strategy for sales, marketing, leads, leadership, operational schedule, and how to keep everyone in the building on the same page.
During this time, people should know not to bother you. Although not always possible, I try to avoid the distractions of emails, phone calls, and conversations with employees. To be as productive as possible, I need to be on my own focusing on the task at hand.
After my peak time, I go back to being available for everyone. While I’m working on the big picture type stuff on my own, it’s inevitable that a few issues arise.
I spend the middle of my day troubleshooting problems, helping out my staff, and figuring out what’s going to need my attention for the next couple of hours.
During this time, my employees know that they can approach me with whatever problems that they’re running into that day, and I do my best to keep the ship running smoothly.
Rest of the Day
The rest of my day is kind of when things start winding down a little bit. I’ve set up my employees for the day, worked on some of the bigger picture ideas for the company, solved any problems that arose, and put employees on new tasks if they already finished their previous jobs.
After all that, I go back to my task list from the day before. Maybe there’s a phone call that I have to make about a payroll issue, an appointment to set with a client, or any other range of smaller tasks that kind of get pushed to the backburner.
Once I’ve sorted through all of that, I think about what went well for the day and what could’ve gone a little bit better. If I’m in the mood at the office, I start putting together my following day.
If I need a little bit of a break, I’ll keep everything that happened in mind, go home, have some food, and then put together my plan for the next day.
Find What Works for You
Putting together a system of what works for me didn’t happen overnight. When I was younger and starting out my career, there were a lot of days where I showed up to work anxious and overwhelmed about everything that I needed to get done.
Without a plan, that anxiety led to me putting off tasks, working on other things, and ending the day feeling like I got nothing done. After a while, I’d had enough.
Even today, I’m still fine-tuning my schedule and figuring out what works best for me, my employees, and my clients.
For you, your plan isn’t going to look exactly like mine. Maybe your most productive hour is at 7:00 am, or you like to get your entire team together during your most productive hour so that you can feed that energy to your team.
Whatever it is, figure out a system and stick to it.
Let me know what you think in the comments section below!