Tuesday, February 14, 2012

How do you structure your days?

I structure my days chronologically, but it occurred to me there might be other ways to map out your day.

I'm very linear in general so I find it very helpful to map out my day hour by hour. This helps me prepare for what's coming up. If I need to bring something with me, like my kids' sports gear when I pick them up from school, I write that into the hour before pickup so I remember to have those things with me when I walk out the door.

Generally my days are structured as "before pickup" and "after pickup."  During the day when my kids are at school is when I do my blog posting, housework, grocery shopping, phone calls, errands, and whatever else I need to do that day.  After pickup it's a whirlwind of activities, practices, homework and projects. So I know when I write out my tasks for the day that if I don't have time to do it before I leave to pick them up, it's not going to get done that day. This helps me be more realistic about what I can accomplish in a day.

It's hard for me to imagine a non-chronological day, but I can guess for people who don't need an hourly schedule there might be different ways to structure their days. Maybe they use blocks of time to work on projects.  Some freelancers and contractors might work on things when they can and total up their billable hours as they happen.

Do you structure your days in a non-chronological way? How does that work for you?


  1. Although I think of myself as a mostly right-brained thinker (seeing things visually in a mind-map style), my planner is kind of a hybrid.

    Like you, if I have time-based tasks (must bring the library books with me to the dental appointment so that I'll have them with me and can stop at the library on the way home), I'll write the task next to the time-slotted appointment so that I'll see it there.

    But I usually have more tasks that are not time-based, so I write them on the to-do list as they occur to me in no particular sequence. Then as part of my daily planning, I use a few highlighters to color-code the tasks (green ["go"] for errands; pink for urgent things that must be done that day; yellow for lower priority. I guess the left side of my brain is OK with some linear planning, but the right side needs to see the colors to get the larger picture ("yikes, lots of errands today - better get those done early before traffic backs up", etc).

    - Tina

  2. I definitely need to plan things chronologically, which is why I've been finding that the Dodo Pad layout really works for me. It lets me see my day in blocks of time, so I can see how much free time I actually have in a day to book other things in.
    This is why standard Wo2P layouts don't work for me - I can write the time next to an appointment but it doesn't give me enough of an overview of the whole day, and I might plan more things than I can actually accomplish in a day.

    I like to visualise my week in this way, to glance at the page and know roughly when I have a few hours free each day to get extra things done. (I divide my day into blocks of 3 hours as it seems to fit with the layout of the grid)

  3. I would love to be able to plan for time slots but I can't, either at home or at work. I do have deadlines and sometimes appointmetns, just no certainty about what will happen each day, including which hours I will be where. The grid-style month on two pages works well for appointments. What I need to do gets arranged as lists, separated as to do and errands, with work in the Taskmaster and personal in the Graphic Image week with notes. Lists are in the week I will work on them and roughly prioritized by earliest deadline first. Tasks get a mark when done or wiggly line for "not going to happen." Longer projects start on the week I begin them and subsequent weeks either the next task or else a date notation of the earlier week. When a week's list is done I put a check mark at the top right of the page.