The final installment in my personal growth planning is the daily plan. After I’ve looked long range at my annual goals, broken them down into monthly goals, then put them in executable format in my weekly plan, the next step is to plan each day to make things happen. The key phrase in that last sentence is to PLAN EACH DAY. I think it’s a good idea to plan each day in advance if you’re going to have any success in getting things done. You may be aware of my reasoning for this but if not, consider your present day plan (if you have one). You may write a few things down from time to time but nobody plans for interruptions do they? Funny thing is, they happen all the time. Phone calls, friends stopping us, that “must be done now” project the boss throws on your desk, you name it. Before long, your list gets tossed and you just react to the input around you. This is a sure road for disaster and NEVER accomplishing the things you want to.
Start your day the night before. I give roughly 15 minutes at night before retiring to look over my weekly plan and include a few things on my daily plan. I use a small Picadilly (Moleskine clone) notebook that I’ve tabbed for my use and use a fresh page for each day. I look first at my time sensitive commitments. Any appointments there that need to be figured in? Once I have that settled, then I plan at least three items I want to accomplish on that day. These are my “Big Three” and I make them a priority to complete. In fact, my goal is to accomplish at least one of these three tasks before the bulk of my day begins. I do this because it gives me a sense of accomplishment and “get up and go” for my day. Now I’m down to only two and I still have the whole day!
Underneath the big three, I put some “batch” tasks on my page that I can accomplish in differing contexts. Phone calls, errands, computer tasks (both those that require internet access and those that don’t), and other similar tasks go below my priorities. I do this so if I’m found with a ten minute window with nothing to do, I can quickly review my list and see that I could make a quick phone call (or two) and take something else off my list for the week. Perhaps something happens and I’m left with a half hour to kill. If I’m lucky enough to be at a place where I have access to a computer I can type a quick letter, reply to my email, or communicate with my associates through any number of social networking sites. The key here is to maximize your time in whatever way is most efficient for you and to build new habits to see hidden opportunities to get things done. This way, when you are home, you can disconnect if you choose and know that you are not cheating yourself. Too many times I came home with phone calls to make, letters to write, visits on my list, and so many other things that I felt overwhelmed. Now, I can relax on most nights and have quality time with my family while still achieving! So what goes on my day planner each morning? It changes from day to day but here’s roughly what it looks like…
My first priority is my time with God. I can’t be an effective pastor if I’m not spending time with God each day so I look over my time commitments and I schedule in my “appointment” with God. This is like any other appointment and I’m very guarded about moving it in any way. For me, this time is most available to me in the early morning and that’s my favorite time anyway so I pencil it in each day. Prayer and meditation are a part of this time also.
Next is my daily commitments. I’m trying to lose weight so I MUST plan some time for exercise in my day. This is an easy commitment to break since it’s for yourself but I’ve had to learn that it’s only through consistent training that I will see any progress so in it goes on my planner. My wife and children need my time too so I look for ways I can get time in with them. My oldest daughter is going through dental school so her schedule is limited. My wife works full time and we have to coordinate date times so we can grab some coffee or a late night bite to eat without the kids. All of this is considered so if I’ve planned wisely on my weekly plan, these times should go in easily. Do you see now why I said all part of the plan are vital?
I also take time each day to pray for those that don’t know Christ. I have many names on my prayer list so I make time each day to ask God to make Himself very real to these folks. To me, this is one of those “key” areas that need to be a priority for me.
All of that is wrapped into my daily planning along with my “big three” and “batch” tasks. In all, this entire system has worked for me and has allowed me to achieve more in the past few years than I ever have. My only regret is that I didn’t discover it sooner. I hope what has been shared here will be of use to you as you plan for the coming fall season. Get started! Do it now! Don’t procrastinate any longer. Re-read all the part of this system and customize your own plan for growth and change in your life! May God bless you on your new journey!