How I stay organised and plan my days

Am I writing a blog article in the middle of the month? Yes I know it’s an absolute world record since the pandemic started. Over the last year, I barely had the time to survive and keep alive. I would like to go back to my old standard and blog every weekend but, at the moment, seems like a very challenging task with life just going back to normality, at least here in the UK, and the entire world recovering from post-traumatic distress from the pandemic.

I get very anxious when I have many things on my plate, so to ease my anxiety and feel like I am in control of things I like planning my days, weeks, and months. I did talk a lot about this in the past, mostly referring to managing my PhD and building my brand. But my life is quite different now, I am no longer a student, my priorities and life perspective changed entirely, so I decided to give an update on organizing my life as a young professional.

I am an early bird and I start my days at 6am. I cook breakfast, get ready, do the makeup, and set intentions to prepare for the day ahead. I start my working shift at 8 am. When I arrive at work, I don’t fuff around, I plan my workload the day before, so when I arrive at my desk, I know exactly what I have to do on that particular day. Starting the day with a clear vision of all the tasks I want to get done is one of the greatest tools to maximise productivity. It’s also about efficiency. Different than doing research in academia, I can’t work indefinitely meaning at night or weekends. This kind of alone work at unsocial hours is forbidden in industry. I only have 8h/d to do my work so time management is key!

I only have 8h/d to get the job done, I can’t and don’t want to work indefinitely!

Not only I plan the activities of the day, but I also allocate a specific time to complete a task. 8-9 am is the block of time I tend to analyse my reactions and I usually do the paperwork and plan for the next day after 3.30 pm. I handwrite all my plans, I love using pen and paper but this is just me. A lot of people use Google or Outlook calendar, make Gantt charts, or use apps like Trello or Notion, very popular among students. Handwriting works for me because it helps me to visualize my goals better.

Outside my job, I use a weekly planner to organise my days and schedule exercise, chores, working on my brand, and fun. Having a structure and allocating time for tasks outside my job has been a lifesaver during the pandemic. The idea of going back home with nothing to do was extremely depressing. I was not really looking forward to sitting on the sofa and feeling like I was wasting my time doing nothing (hello high functioning anxiety). So I started writing down things to do after work like HIIT workouts, running, yoga, reading, or writing blog articles as activities to fill my afternoon and evenings. I translated the concept of “organising my workload” to my life to have something to look forward to after work. Even just writing down this paragraph sounds ridiculous to me because entertainment should be a spontaneous task not a part of a to-do list, like paying rent and bills. But there was nothing normal during the pandemic year so I just might as well do whatever.

In all of this, I want to say that my life is very simple, I don’t have a lot of responsibility at work, I only do research at the moment, and I don’t have a family. This means that I don’t have to look after/manage people which would imply having a separate planner and allocating time for those tasks.

To conclude, I just want to make clear that life is more than ticking boxes on a to-do list. The listicle is just supposed to be a tool for time management and maximise productivity while being efficient. This should not be criteria to measure your success in life. Slow progress is still progress, no progress is fine too and, at times, you need to take a step back to move two steps forward. Everyone is on their own journey and it’s important not to measure your achievements using someone else’s criteria for success!