I’ve not been able to find a daily planner that works. There are some basic elements that come standard such as a to-do list or a place to take notes, but I’ve been looking for something that will help me have balance in my day. I don’t want a planner that’s full of basic to-do’s and ends up ruling my life. I want a daily planner that will not only help me be productive but also feel good about each day.
While very different, there are themes between them. Putting positivity into the world, being deliberate, building and using creativity, and balancing your life. These are things I’m constantly looking to improve in my life and this daily planner is focused on putting those elements in front of you each day. Putting structure to forward progression.
Daily Planner Template
System Requirements: Microsoft Excel® 2007 or later
User Agreement: Read it Here
When I’m not productive, when I don’t have a purpose I turn into a jerk. I’m short with people, my wife, my kids, the people who don’t deserve it. My outlook gradually becomes negative. It happens.
I don’t know if this is true for everyone, but I think it is. I’ve seen it in people who are close to me. I’ve read books, listened to podcasts, and watched videos where people discuss different times in their lives. Times are good when there is a sense of purpose. Depression, negativity enter when forward progress stops.
Why does this happen? I don’t know. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve become more self-aware. Now, it’s easier for me to see when my jerk-self is starting to emerge. I know the triggers. More importantly, I know the preventative action. Be proactive. Have goals. Create (produce). Be grateful. Help others. Remove negativity. Evolve – learn, explore, grow, exercise, love. Balance (mental, physical, emotional, spiritual).
This is not to say I’m always successful. I’m not. Everyday is a new, so every day requires effort. That’s why a daily plan is necessary. Daily plans build into weekly, monthly, yearly and ultimately into a lifetime. So, let’s get started.
How to Use the Daily Planner Template
The daily process will be different for everyone. You can edit this template, so if one of the items doesn’t work for what you’re trying to accomplish, change it. Before you do though give each of these categories a shot. Give it 1 month. Call it an experiment and see what happens. At the end of a month, figure out what you like, don’t like, and want to change.
At the end of each day, plan for the next. Take a few seconds to think through each category. There’s only a few that require some planning. By getting a head start on this process you’ll set yourself up for a highly productive and rewarding day. If you need to make changes as the day unfolds that’s fine, just ensure they are worthwhile changes and not just because it’s easy.
The daily theme should reflect the overall tone of the day. What type of day do you want to have? This is the 50,000 foot view of your day. It’s the filter you should use against all of the unknowns that are going to occur. When an unknown event takes place, make a decision that’s in line with your theme.
Your daily theme should be in line with larger themes you have in your life, such as your goals. Use the ideas of what you want in life, who you want to be, to dictate your theme.
Most Important Things
Most Important Things (MIT’s) is a common element of a daily planner, sometimes called different names. These are the few things that, if you were to only accomplish these, you would feel pretty good about your day. Your MIT’s don’t have to be in addition to all other items on the daily planner, but they can be. For example, maybe your MIT is exercise. There’s an area in the daily planner for exercise, but by making it an MIT you’re locking down its importance to that day. On the other hand, you might have an MIT of creating a new excel template. While this still might make it to the to-do list section of the template, it doesn’t have to.
Pay it Forward / Nice Thing
There’s an area for 1 nice thing. Ideally this is a nice thing for someone else. It’s rewarding to do nice things for other people. Giving releases endorphins. This doesn’t have to be in the financial form. The goal is to put positivity into the world.
Come up with a few ideas that appeal to you, and you can draw from them when planning out your day.
Things to Stop Doing / Say No
Sometimes the way to become more productive is by doing less. This area lets you look at your day/life and think about the things are aren’t contributing to your theme. Cut these things out. If it’s a person who’s negative, don’t spend time with them. If it’s something you’re doing that you shouldn’t be, or isn’t making you better, stop. It could even be a worry, or anger or frustration you’re carrying.
This is a different approach from most planners. But I don’t understand why. Writing down what you want to stop doing will help you get past it. It feels good to simplify.
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Consider developing a menu plan for the week. Then, when you plan your day, put down your 3 main meals for the day. You’ll be more likely to stick with the plan if it’s right in front of you.
Bodies were made to be active. This can be as intense as necessary. Use this space to write down how many minutes you want to exercise, what type of physical activity you’re going to do, etc.
Use tally marks to keep track of your water consumption. One tally mark = 8 oz. The general rule is eight 8 0z cups in a day. However, different people need different amounts. If you’re sweating more because it’s hot, you’ll likely need to consume more water to stay hydrated.
Everyone needs some silence or some type of activity to bring mental peace. Clearing your mind, taking a few deep breaths can do wonders for your day. Take a short walk outside and enjoy the view, whatever it may be. Use this space to ensure you get an activity that improves your mental well-being.
Take a minute to recognize those things in your life that you’re truly grateful for. The Transformative Power of Gratitude not only impacts the way you’re feeling, but has also been shown to improve intelligence, increase energy, and decrease headaches. This is a habit worth establishing.
Something for Fun
Find some amount of fun in each day. Don’t get caught up in the daily grind. Put something in your daily planner, no matter how small, to find enjoyment. Think back to the things you truly enjoyed as a kid. Sports, games, reading, drawing, writing, music, or whatever. Make a few minutes to do something fun.
To Do List (80/20)
If you’re going to make a to do list make it impactful. The 80/20 rule (also known as the Pareto Principle) states that 80% of the results are from 20% of the causes. With this line of thinking, look at your to do list and identify those items that are going to be the most impactful. Those items go in the orange highlight section of the list.
The to-do list is broken up into 3 columns. The left column is to check off the items complete. The middle column is for the actual to do item. The right column is to estimate the amount of time you’re going to spend on each to do. Estimating your time will help you ensure you’re not taking on more than you can handle in a day.
This is straight from James Altucher. Claudia Azula Altucher wrote the book Become An Idea Machine and James has written about the benefits of coming up with ideas on numerous occasions. I’ve incorporated this into my day because it works. I’ve not been successful doing it each day, which is why it made it to the daily planner.
Take notes, draw, or convert this space into something else to fit your needs.
Have an Idea
Let me know if you have an idea to improve this daily planner.