We all know how hard it is to plan our work week and stick to a schedule. Little things can come up, something in our personal life can grind us to a halt, or we can feel so stressed and unmotivated that we can’t bear to look at our overwhelming to-do list.
But what if there was a simpler way to plan your work week and not become overwhelmed? I’ve come up with a solution that works for me, and I really want to share it with you!
Do you ever find yourself with multiple notebooks full of lists, tonnes of tasks and reminders on your phone and post-it notes flying all over the place? (Think mental image of the enchanted flying keys in Harry Potter and The Philosopher's Stone).
If you too can relate, then you've come to the right place!
I recently found a solution that works for me, so I created a printable workday planner! If you’re anything like me, you love putting pen to paper in this digital world. I create a single worksheet that comprises my to-do list, weekly event reminders, organises my design business, my top weekly goal and the action-steps it takes to accomplish that goal. That’s right – all in one place.
i’ve designed the workday planner to work for you
It’s really important when planning my work week to map out each hour from 7 am to 6 pm. These are the hours that I consider to be my ‘active’ hours.
Don’t panic just yet, this doesn’t mean I’m constantly at my desk, hustling for 12 hours a day. But my working hours are mapped out in that timeframe.
routines are key to creating a productive workday
Every morning I like to wake up between 6:30 am to 7 am, this gives me the time I need to wake up gradually, have my breakfast, get dressed and do the little things I need to get ready for my day ahead. As a freelance graphic designer, it’s essential I have a routine each day to encourage productivity and motivation when working from home.
Without a routine, I can fall into the trap of doing house chores, binge-watching the latest Netflix series, or just procrastinating and wasting valuable time which would be better spent working on my business. Hands up if you can relate!
My printable workday planner provides you with a timeframe from Monday to Friday, 7 am to 6 pm. Nope, I’m not missing out Saturday and Sunday! The weekends are reserved for free time.
This planner is exclusively to replicate ‘9-5’ working hours, and provides you with the perfect planning tools you need during a busy week.
how i use the workday planner
As I mentioned earlier, I don’t expect you to sit at your computer desk for 12 hours of the day. But once you wake up you need to be planning what you do to prepare yourself for the working day. This is going to encourage productivity and motivation.
Something I like to do after I’ve had my breakfast and gotten dressed, is to read for a minimum 20 minutes each morning. A small habit like this provides a little bit of me-time to look forward to each morning. Think about it as small a reward, you’ve got up early (which can be the most difficult part having your own business), you’re ready to take on your day, and as a reward, you’ve got 20 glorious, uninterrupted minutes to read your latest best-seller.
That takes us to about 7:30 am. You’ve got a little bit of buffer time here to prepare for your day. Most mornings I head to either spin or pilates class, both starts at 8 am and are about a 15-minute walk away at the most.
One my exercise class is over and I’ve finished getting showered and dressed, I walk a few minutes to the library or a coffee shop, that takes me to about 9:30 am. From there, I order a coffee, get out my laptop and notebook and prepare for the tasks I have that day. This is a process I like to call my ‘pre-work preparation ritual’.
My ‘pre-work preparation ritual’ goes something like this:
Check email inbox
Load up Asana and review the tasks for the day
Remind myself of any client calls I have scheduled that day
… And if I have a little time life, maybe a quick scroll through Instagram!
If you’re also looking for some great tools to manage your business, check out my favourite tools for organization and productivity here!
This planned morning routine sets me up to be well on my way to start my workday at 10 am. Now there’s a timeframe from 10 am till 6 pm, I can go through my workday planner and map out the tasks that need to be completed in broken-down hourly windows.
Most things, such as blog posts, social media calendars, meetings and a follow-up email usually last for roughly an hour. That’s where you can fill in the empty boxes with tasks throughout the day. Each slot keeps me on track and helps me to be mindful of what I need to be focusing on at different times during the workday.
Now it’s all over to you! Grab your workday planner below to follow along with the next steps!
Step #1: Establishing habits with ‘active’ hours
You will need to train your brain to form new habits. A scientific study revealed that “on average, it takes more than 2 months before a new behaviour becomes automatic — 66 days to be exact.” (source)
To start with, I decided to set my alarm for 6:30 am each morning, baby steps to get my out of bed and keep myself motivated! Try this for a few weeks to train your body clock, soon it’ll be the norm and a positive habit for you to stick to.
If an early start isn’t your thing, just start small. Tell yourself that you will eat breakfast at the same time each day, or exercise, or read.
You’re ‘active’ hours are from 7 am to 6 pm, these aren’t just the hours you’re sat at your desk. Make a plan similar to mine above, what do you need to do each morning to keep yourself motivated for the day? Set a time which you are going to start working, but give yourself a mini-mindful routine if you will for each morning to allow your body and mind to prepare for a productive day.
*The workday planner is an example of how I like to plan my time, from 7 am to 6 pm. However, I understand you may have a different timeframe which works best for you. Feel free to use a PDF editor to change your ‘active’ hours timeframe to suit your needs!
Step #2: Pre-work preparation ritual
Similar to how a body-builder or CrossFit enthusiast will drink a protein smoothie, warm-up and prepare before a heavy workout, we need to do the same as freelancers. Sitting at a desk for any amount of time can be taxing on the brain, shifting focus from tab to tab or getting distracted choosing our favourite playlists.
Stick to your pre-work preparation ritual. You've seen my list above mapping out the essential actions I need to take to begin my working day.
Think about what tools you need to organise your day. It might just be your notebook with your to-do list, a project management tool such as Asana (this is my favourite PM tool!), or something else which you prefer to use.
Write down your own pre-work preparation ritual in the space provided at the top of the printable workday planner. Just incase you’ve missed it, you can download the worksheet for FREE here!
Step #3: Organising your schedule the night before
A lot of planning for the day ahead usually begins the night before. So get into the habit of allocating your last hour of the workday planning the things you need to tick off for the next day, you'll sleep much more soundly! The more you plan, the less time you spend procrastinating.
If you’ve not already downloaded the printable workday planner, you can still get your hands on it below! Don’t forget to refer back to the action-steps above to make the most out of your freebie!
*I don’t currently receive compensation for any resources mentioned, however, I would never recommend a tool I didn’t love!