Your Roadmap to Success: How to Plan Your Day for Maximum Achievement

Confucius said long ago, “A man who does not plan long ahead will find trouble at his door.” Although it is interpretable what long ahead means, planning keeps you away from trouble. It is also true that a successful career starts with the first day of work, the first task, and the first goal. And planning long ahead involves a lot of daily planning. 

So, did you master planning your day, or are you still struggling with solving your tasks on time, being responsive, and tackling unexpected situations? Our comprehensive step-by-step guide will teach you how to create healthy habits, how to find your flow, and what methods and tools to use to plan the perfect day every day.


  • Benefits of Planning Your Day
  • How to Plan Your Day?
  • Key Planning Methods
  • Top Planning Tools

Benefits of Planning Your Day

Daily planning is good practice for planning long ahead but also has short-term benefits. It impacts your work and personal life, influences health, and is a significant factor in a successful career. Here are the advantages of planning your day:

  • A better life-work balance: Finishing your tasks on time means no overtime and more time with leisure activities, family, and friends. 
  • A healthier lifestyle: You will have time for a proper lunch and enough breaks.
  • Improved time management skills: You become more organized and efficient in delivering results. At the same time, planning daily highlights the most important tasks needed to be delivered. Overall, the quality of your work and time management will improve.
  • Your productivity increases: When everything is in order and well-planned, you gain free time for a break or to help a colleague. Your schedule won’t be so tight that you can’t handle unexpected situations, such as an ad-hoc meeting, an uninvited client, or a problem with one of your tasks. 
  • Improved state of mind: You’ll be more relaxed, engaged, and focused.

Therefore, planning your day is the first step towards less stress, panic, procrastination, and hectic behavior.

How to Plan Your Day?

Once you commit to planning your day, you need a strategy. Like with anything in life, there is a learning curve and no way around it. That’s where our step-by-step guide for planning your day comes in handy. It allows you to focus on one task at a time and develop a workflow that fits your personality, job, and daily routine. As much as we would like to implement someone else’s planning, we must create our own.

Step 1: Define Goals

Your goals are your reasons for starting to plan your day in the first place. Maybe you want to finish your projects on time or before the deadline to have more time for research or other activities. Perhaps you need to organize your day to avoid procrastination and doing overtime. Or maybe you must have a healthy lifestyle and no longer skip lunch. For most people, the list of goals includes:

  • getting a promotion
  • being more organized
  • having more time for teamwork
  • gaining more time for brainstorming and meetings
  • finishing the tasks on time to afford a vacation
  • eating healthier
  • taking more breaks for stretching and relaxing
  • developing new skills
  • managing anger and stress.

Find what motivates you to create a new routine and add the daily task planning to your task lists. It’s important to know your purpose before starting the journey.

Step 2: List Your Tasks

Look at your day as a whole and see what tasks you need to do. You can also use the week as a reference. Break large tasks into small ones because you won’t be able to do everything in a day. Remember that everything is a task, not just effective work. For example, reading and answering your emails is also a time-consuming task. Having a chat with your colleagues to see how our projects are going is also a task. Checking your daily agenda or team calendar for updates is another to-do task.

People often forget that everything that takes up time is a task. And many of them add a lot to the daily to-do list. There are also personal tasks that need addressing. You can’t go throughout the day without breaks, food, and drinks, interacting with your colleagues, or taking some personal time to clear your mind. Create a complete list of tasks to understand the planning process better.

Don't go too broad. Coach Dan Sullivan, in his book The Gap and The Gain, explains how the concept of 3 wins per day will help you be more confident and successful. Find below a short brief:

Simply list your three wins for the day every day for the next 21 days. This may be anything you accomplished that day, or anything you felt was a success.

Next, list the three wins you hope to achieve tomorrow. This exercise is designed to set up the game such that you win every time. Even if it initially looks simple or difficult, keep going.

You'll notice that your mind starts searching for accomplishments to add to the list after a few days. Your mentality will change to one of development rather than all that didn't happen if you simply look for the good.  In this way, you become more resilient and will have more confidence in your abilities.

In order to succeed, it's essential to schedule each day in advance and to constantly work from a list, according to Brian Tracy's book Eat That Frog. Beginning with a master list, you will then subdivide it into more detailed monthly lists, weekly lists, and daily lists of tasks.

Image via traqq.

Step 3: Prioritize

Not all tasks are equally urgent. You need to prioritize in order to plan your day efficiently. Some tasks require an urgent response; others are essential for your health and well-being. But other tasks have a long deadline, depend on other people, or are on your agenda by mistake. Sometimes, you may want to divide your attention between several tasks throughout the day and include a time for obligations and commitments you can’t avoid.

Choose the best time of the day for each activity. For example, if you are a morning person, plan the most important tasks of the day before lunch. Notify your colleagues you are unavailable for early chats or interruptions and focus on your urgent to-do list. However, not all of your day should be filled with urgent to-do tasks. You need to schedule time for breaks, attend to other people, respond to unpredictable situations, and advance not-so-urgent tasks. Planning the day needs balance. Otherwise, you won’t be able to focus and finish what you have in mind for the day. One priority per day is enough.

See below the Eisenhower matrix, probably the best tool to help you make better decisions on prioritization.

The ABC Analysis is an alternative method of identifying the most important tasks, the should do ones, and lastly the nice to ones. Image via t2informatik.

Step 4: Cultivate Healthy Habits

You need three essential elements to create a habit: a cue that acts as a trigger, a routine that can be physical or mental to address the need, and a reward to suggest to your brain that these actions are worth repeating. Charles Duhigg, in his book, The Power of Habit, expands deeper on this framework; however, we have a graphic summarizing it below. Habits help you organize your day, avoid procrastination, and be more efficient. However, developing a bad habit is much easier than cultivating a healthy one.

If you want to create a healthy habit of planning your day, start by providing yourself with a cue. For example, you can set up an email alert to deliver the daily agenda. Or you can put a post-it on your laptop with a meaningful message. Then, once you have the cue, take action and reward yourself immediately afterward. A good reward is to drink your morning coffee or tea after you have done the daily planning. Or offer a short break to talk with a colleague or take a short walk.

The exact process applies to all habits you must cultivate, such as taking a lunch break, taking short breaks after each task, respecting your time for priority tasks, preparing for meetings, etc.

One of your new habits may be implementing a planning model. You can start with the basic planning model on how to refine your goals, on the strategies to get more done or to make better decisions on what you want to achieve for a specific day or week or the sequence in which those tasks will be completed. In this way, we provide you with 5 strategies vetted by productivity experts:

  1. Eat the Frog: This method encourages you to tackle your most difficult or unpleasant task first thing in the morning so that you can move on to other items with a sense of accomplishment and momentum.

  2. Pomodoro Technique: This method involves breaking your work into 25-minute intervals (known as "Pomodoros") with short breaks. The idea is to work in focused bursts and give your regular brain breaks to recharge.

  3. Time Blocking: This method involves scheduling your day and allocating specific time blocks for different tasks or activities. The goal is to create a clear plan for your day and minimize distractions or interruptions.

  4. Eisenhower Matrix: This method categorizes your tasks into four quadrants based on their urgency and importance. The idea is to prioritize tasks based on their importance and tackle the most urgent and important tasks first.

  5. Kanban: This method involves visualizing your work and progress on a board or chart, typically using columns for "To Do," "In Progress," and "Done." The goal is to represent your work and track progress in real-time visually.

Remember: cultivating healthy habits doesn't mean reinventing the wheel.

Step 5: Use Planning Tools

An essential step in planning your day is identifying tools that make your life easier. Start with a simple notebook and write your daily tasks and timeline. But you may quickly understand that you prefer more advanced tools, such as planning templates (digital or paper-based), online calendars and agendas, and specialized apps.

You may also consider using well-known planning methods. Give yourself a trial period and try new methods for a few days. See which one fits your workflow and personality. Remember that you have to like the planning tools and methods you use. Otherwise, you won’t be able to sustain the healthy habit of planning your day for a long time. It shouldn’t be a struggle. So if you aren’t comfortable with a particular tool or method, don’t look back and move on to the next one.

Tip: In the following chapter of this article, we will highlight more details on various planning tools:

  • Journals: Journals are physical books that you can use to plan and organize your tasks and activities. They can be customized to fit your specific needs and preferences, track progress, and reflect on your goals and accomplishments.
  • Online calendars: Online calendars such as Google Calendar or Outlook are digital tools that allow you to schedule appointments, set reminders, and organize your time. They can be accessed from anywhere with an internet connection and easily shared with others.
  • Apps: Planning apps such as Trello, Asana, or Todoist are digital tools designed specifically for planning and organization. They often offer a range of features such as task management, project collaboration, and productivity tracking.
  • Planning templates: Planning templates are pre-designed documents or spreadsheets that you can use to plan and organize your tasks and activities. They can be downloaded and customized to fit your specific needs and can be used to streamline your planning process.

Tip: Scroll in the section planning tools to find more details about each took and download a free Excel weeky planner and a printable PDF.

Step: 6 Act Now

Take time to define goals, list tasks, prioritize, identify habits, and test planning tools and methods, but don’t wait too long to take action. As Brian Tracy says in his book Eat the Frog, “The hardest part of any important task is getting started on it in the first place.”  He also provides 21 ways to take action immediately.

Benjamin Franklin said, “Well done is better than well said.” Don’t worry if you make mistakes or realize you didn’t take the best path. It’s important to act, do the work, and put one step in front of the other. So start today. Start right now. Don’t wait for tomorrow, the next Monday, or the next month. Now is the best time to act. Be focused, and do something toward delivering results. By working on your plans, you're closer to achieving your goals. By working on a consistent basis, and with discipline you're closer to success. 

Step 7: Reflect and Adjust

Take a week or two to put into practice all the above steps. Then, reflect on what is going well, what needs improvement, and what needs to stop. The process of daily planning is very personal and often subject to many adjustments. It needs to fit your lifestyle, job, and daily routine. 

As much as you would want a particular procedure, you are in a work environment with its own saying. So don’t be harsh on yourself and allow any adjustments and alterations you may need to create the best daily planning for you.

Key Planning Methods

Although only you can cultivate new habits and prioritize tasks, you can find planning methods and tools to help you plan your day. We list the most popular ones here, hoping you will find a good match for your workflow.

Planning methods provide strategies and procedures to help you organize your day, be more efficient, and get things done in time. They may ease your planning process but aren’t a good fit for everybody. However, they are a good starting point for your customized planning method. Feel free to mix and match any of the following:

Eat the frog

Eat the frog is a planning method based on the assumption that people tend to overestimate what they can do in a day and underrate their annual output. As a result, at the end of the workday, they often find themselves with plenty to do and urgent tasks unfinished, and they end up doing overtime, postponing vacations, and building up stress.

Eat the frog method advises you to find the most challenging task of the day and do it first thing in the morning. Then, do the less urgent or difficult tasks. This way, you have time and energy for the high-priority task.

In the international bestseller, Eat that frog, Brian tracy, highlights the steps needed to stop procrastinating and get more done in less time. Image via Readingraphics

The Pomodoro Technique

Pomodoro is a time management technique developed by Francesco Cirillo 1980s. It’s the base of many modern methods, such as timeboxing and incremental development. The Pomodoro method advises you to work for 25 minutes and then take a short break. Repeat the 25-minute work–break cycle a few times and then take a more extended break. You can use any timer to monitor your work and break stages, including a fun-looking kitchen timer.

The Pomodoro method aims to eliminate interruption and provide you with periods of focus. During a work stage, nothing is accepted: no colleagues asking for support, no email reading or answering, no stepping out to refill your coffee cup. If you interrupt a Pomodoro, you must abandon it and start over.

The Pomodoro Technique by Sketchplanations

Time blocking

Similar to the Pomodoro method, the Time blocking method aims to increase productivity by eliminating distractions and multitasking. The method advises dividing the day into blocks dedicated to a particular task. For example, read and answer emails from 8:00 AM to 9:00 AM. The blocks don’t need to have the same length. Difficult or more urgent tasks may take longer. The idea is to work on one task at a time and plan your day ahead.

The Time blocking method helps you plan your day realistically and improve time management skills. At the same time, it prompts you to include breaks on your daily agenda. The trick is to stop when the block assigned for a particular task ends.

Eisenhower matrix

The Eisenhower matrix is a decision method that helps you prioritize tasks and be more efficient. You use two criteria, urgency, and importance, to divide your tasks into four categories. The technique uses the graphic representation of a square divided into four smaller ones.

The method also proposes courses of action for each category: do the important and urgent tasks, schedule for later important but not urgent tasks, delegate what is urgent but not important, and ignore for now what is neither urgent nor important. However, you are free to use other criteria and courses of action. Visualizing the tasks and their order on your priority list gives you a better idea of what needs to be done.

Kanban boards

Borrowed from the lean manufacturing industry, Kanban is a scheduling system often used for software development. The method uses a board to represent your tasks and their status (e.g., to do, in progress, done). It encourages incremental evolution and allows you to work on multiple tasks in a day (but not simultaneously!). The system provides transparency, which makes it popular for team planning.

Like the Eisenhower matrix, Kanban is a visual method. You see exactly where you are with each task, can make notes on the side, and improve your workflow. When you notice the board is getting filled, you can reduce the number of new tasks and focus on finishing the ongoing ones. For example, the board allows you to return to the job and incorporate feedback.

Top Planning Tools

Planning tools effectively reduce time spent with repetitive tasks, create cues for healthy habits, and improve efficiency. They range from digital planning templates or paper ones to journals to digital calendars and apps. You may also want to look at more complex tools, such as HR apps that track work time, plan time off, and keep transparent team calendars.

Choose what fits your workflow, and don’t hesitate to change it if you don’t like it or have trouble getting used to it. Many planning tools are free for individual or small business use. The most popular planning tools are the following:

Planning Templates

Using a planning template is good practice for creating the habit of planning and tracking your tasks and ensuring that essential goals don’t fall through the cracks. You can use a daily or weekly template as a digital file or printed paper. If you need help, download our free Excel weekly planning template and personalize it. It helps to use your favorite colors, a visual design that matches your style, and designated boxes for what you consider necessary (e.g., goals, tasks, habits, etc.)

Weekly Planner Excel template

Weekly PDF Excel template


Journals also may be digital files or physical notebooks. Some people prefer the intimacy of a paper journal where they can write and sketch freely. Others prefer digital files they can store on their ever-present phone or online journals they can sync across multiple devices. Journals have the advantage of keeping a history of your planning process. You can look back and reflect on what you need to change and what went very well. You have probably heard about the Moleskine or Leuchtturm1917 high-end planners and agendas. Maybe you use them now. If you do, you are ahead of many others at planning, reflecting, tracking, and achieving your goals.

Online Calendars

Online calendars are a quick way to create and manage daily agendas. Furthermore, they allow you to share your plans with your colleagues, reserve some time for tasks that need no interruptions and organize meetings. Online calendars may also send notifications and act as cues for your newly formed habits. Google Calendar is constantly improving, and it can now add tasks. 

Planning Apps

Planning apps are more complex than other tools and serve multiple purposes. For example, they may include calendars, provide tools for requesting time off, organize meetings, grant access to work-related documents, and send notifications. They take your daily planning to the next level. However, ensure you use them at total capacity, not just as a gadget. Examples of popular planning apps include Asana, Todoist, or Things.  


Plan your day to become more productive, efficient, and relaxed. Planning shouldn’t be a stressful activity you do because your manager asks you to. It should be a way to improve your time management skills and mix a successful career with a healthy lifestyle. We live at a fast pace, always complaining about how busy we are and always putting our well-being in the last place. Planning the day helps us to find time to take a break, eat a healthy meal instead of frugal snacks, take short walks, and relax. All these while finishing our tasks on time, being kind and supportive of our colleagues, and finding inspiration and solutions to the most complicated problems.