Start the night before planning in your mind at least if not on paper (or an app you like to use) what you want to achieve the next day. Think in terms of how long each of the tasks you are interested in achieving takes in REAL time – not fantasy time.
Either the night before or that day of put all the fixed activities into the calendar if you have not already done this. Fixed activities are activities that are scheduled in advance involving other people.
Before you put in your tasks to get done, be sure to check what the deadlines are for each task so that you can make informed decisions as to which tasks to do first. This not only includes the deadline of the task but also the importance of the task and how much time you will need to allocate to get it done.
That is right, not how much time it will take you to get it done but how much time you will allocate to get it done. That is an important distinction. You can spend forever working on a task to get it done to your satisfaction but that isn’t your job. It is to get the task done and spend a reasonable time on it based on the determined value of the task in the greater scheme of things. (This will be the topic another essay.)
Before scheduling tasks onto your calendar first decide if the task actually needs to be done and if so, can it possibly be delegated to someone else. If not the whole task, maybe parts of the tasks could be delegated. Always be trying to eliminate items from your calendar when you can.
Be sure to have some margins around each activity just in case something goes longer than expected. A margin is a buffer zone between things. Just like a piece of paper has margins on both sides for the occasional overflow of letters or words, you need margins in your schedule for the occasional time overflows.
Schedule your tasks in chunks if possible. Chunks of time are time blocks that are no longer than two hours in which you do related tasks. During these chunks you focus in on whatever the activity is rather than doing a little bit of everything. This helps to get you into a “zone” or “flow” which makes it easier to keep working. Take breaks within the time chunk. Examples of time chunks: writing materials for a marketing campaign, sales calls, planning strategy, returning emails, etc.
Unless something truly catastrophic happens, stick with your daily plan. The more you do that, the easier it gets to do both the planning and the executing of the plan. If you “fall off the wagon” simply get back on the next day. If you find your plans don’t seem to work go back over the directions and see where you might be miscalculating. – Time allocation? Realistic chunking? Good Margins?
“If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.” – Yogi Berra