The Planning Process I Use to Win Each Day

On this 219th episode of my Monday Morning Pep Talk, I'll lay out the daily planning method that I've been using since 2020 which has allowed me to stay focused on my goals through a relentless commitment to win each day. This daily planning method will help you stay in touch with your clients on a regular basis, remind you of the tasks that you do regularly, schedule your day in advance (morning or evening) and limit your need to “think” about what you need to do to stay on top of your life and business.

This planning method requires preparation up front (we call this "multiplication method") and effort for it to work as efficiently as I have it set up. If you set it up properly, it will save you hours upon hours of time over the long haul and will make your daily planning more efficient and complete, but it also requires a different mindset. If you want to reach a new level in your life and business, you've got to change between the ears first and foremost.

My Daily Planning Method is broken down into 5 parts:

  1. Realize that your day has 3 parts: Morning, the "Arena" hours, evening.
  2. A commitment to win each day.
  3. Selection of a Mail/Calendar/Task suite (Microsoft Outlook, Google G-suite, ICAL).
  4. Initial up-front prep and scheduling that we call "the multiplication process.”
  5. Daily planning and execution.

Let me give you a little background. During the pandemic year of 2020, I had more "me time" to reflect while sheltering in place.  After a thinking session in early May of 2020, I happened to open up a TASK in Outlook and noticed that it had a “Recurrence” function. (NOTE: Google and Apple refer to a "Task" as a "Reminder”.) I was familiar with the recurrence function on the calendar but not the task function as I just never dug that far into it. I became intrigued so I started to play around with several TASKs that I do every day, every week, quarterly or annually. Most of these TASKs, I had previously done from memory. As my curiosity moved to excitement, I dove in deeper. I played around with it during the summer of 2020 by asking myself certain questions that I will explain coming up. As I asked those questions, I built a curated planning system out of pure sport. The questions I asked and the action I took went like this:

  1. Is this something I do more than once? If it isn’t, it goes into my TASKS in Outlook as a simple TASK or remains in my email until completed. If I do it more than once or should do it more than once, I need to create the TASK and set up a “Recurrence" and assign it to a color coded “Category.”
  2. Does this recurring task require a specific “time”?  If not, it stays a TASK. If it does, I set up an APPOINTMENT in my calendar and set up a RECURRING APPOINTMENT and assign it a color coded category.
  3. If I have a single "follow up task" for days, weeks or months down the road, I go back into my Outlook and schedule that task for a single day. It pops up on that day and I add it to my daily process.

Pro Tip #1:  If you don’t like the “task” function on Outlook or “reminder” function on Google, “ToDoist” is an application that can provide the same functionality.

The focus for my summer of 2020 was setting up 100s of RECURRING TASKs and APPOINTMENTS (they take about 30 seconds each) and I have added to them or deleted them as needed ever since. My daily planning session has evolved to the point that now when I plan my day during my Morning Ritual, my planning process can be done in fewer than 15 minutes.

So my "Daily Planning Session" simply goes like this:

  1. Pull up my Microsoft Outlook and my TUL planner. By using a "physical planner", I am doing a mental dress rehearsal. By writing things down, I better remember them throughout the day. There is a lot of science around this topic which I will spare you today.
  2. Transpose my calendar for the day into my planner.... appointment by appointment, hour by hour.
  3. Make note of any recurring tasks that my initial planning produced.
  4. Note any open time slots on my calendar and slot in any scheduled or unfinished tasks into those time slots. On my calendar, I allow 20 minutes for calls and 10-30 minutes for a task depending on its complexity.
  5. Note any unfinished tasks from the previous day and slot in by reviewing texts, emails, DMs, etc.
  6. Note my BIG 3, non-negotiable tasks/to-do's.
  7. Review for accuracy.
  8. Execute my day and cross off any finished meetings and tasks.
  9. Review my day.  Repeat.

Everyone's life and business are different. Being in a leadership role, my day is different than the majority of the people listening to this call, but having been in your situation, here are some areas I could see you finding this process really beneficial:

  1. Relationship and Database Management: Use the client's birthday as an access date. Set up an annual recurring task/reminder. Set up 3 other annual recurring tasks/reminders at 90 day increments. Or refer back to the CRM algorithm you have set up.
  2. Set up a task/reminder to consistently stay in touch with close friends, relatives/family members.
  3. Build in recurring time blocks in your calendar to work "on" your business. Use a similar planning method for your weekly planning session.
  4. Set up your workouts as a task/reminder.
  5. Set up a task/reminder for the upkeep items needed to maintain your home properly.
  6. Set up a task/reminder for all "personal care" appointments.
  7. Set up an annual task/reminder to ignite your quarterly and annual initiatives.

Remember, the key is to be aware. Is this a task/reminder that I am going to do more than once? If so, automate it using this process. Let me ask you: Could this be a quarterly initiative for an upcoming quarter? If so, bookmark this episode, come back to it and execute on it.

Pro Tip #2:  On the Take Flight Progress Tracker, executing like this would put you as “Proficient” on the “Morning Ritual/Daily Planning” section.

"You fall to the level of your habits, planning and execution.”

Now that we are in 2024, is it time to re-evaluate your habit and routines? Do you feel like you are winning the day, the majority of days? If not, you might need to upgrade your daily and weekly planning methods.

If you found this helpful, re-listen to this episode and take the time to evaluate your habits and routines. You can follow my content primarily here on my website and on my Instagram at @askjimmiller,  YouTube, Spotify and Apple Podcast searchable under Ask Jim Miller.