How To Structure A Working Day
We know what you’re thinking. Is structuring your day worth the bother? What’s the point if your day is likely to be intercepted with urgent client calls, emails and spontaneous team meetings. Surely, it’s just a case of making a good to do list?
Yes, it is important to have flexibility and to roll with the punches, while also having a keen eye for priorities and deadlines, but there are some intrinsic benefits to introducing some structure into your day too.
Firstly, by having a structure, this allows you something to fall back on. It’s your backbone that you can lean on, depending on what arises. Secondly, having structure helps you to work to your strengths, and it’s a useful way to get the best out of yourself at different times of the day.
Lastly, having a structure to your day will undoubtedly leave you feeling more in control and confident. Because, let’s face it, in an unpredictable world, having a sense of structure in the background, can help you find a sense of autonomy amidst those unpredictable or manic Mondays. Here are just a few ways you can structure your day.
Energise your day
Start your day with an energising activity. This may sound like ‘another thing’ to think about but try weaving in 15 minutes at the start of your day and after a few days it will become a habit. Common routines might include meditation, yoga, writing, reading and exercising. But it could be as simple as having a nutritious breakfast followed by a cup of coffee. The important thing is to start the day doing something that will nourish you. Something that puts you first.
Fresh to do
Spend your first moments of work assessing the week’s to do list. Review what you managed to do yesterday, and if you haven’t already, make an updated list for the day ahead. (The next few points explain just how to carve out your to do list across the course of a day.)
Play to your strengths
You might like to structure your to do list by time. Decide the most productive times of the day for you and arrange your workload accordingly. For example, if you find writing reports challenging, start off with this. If you find researching a breeze, plan this in at the end of the day.
The early bird catches the worm
Your tasks of the day should focus on your most important actions. A good rule of thumb is to make sure you complete at least one high-leverage task every day. This will ensure that you don’t feel like you’ve wasted the day.
Right before lunch time
It’s a good idea to perform a physical activity like a workout or brisk walk, but it can also be light exercise like stretching. Eat easily digestible food for lunch such as green vegetables and fish. Try to avoid poultry and milk-based products which might make you sleepy
The afternoon surge
Once you come back from your (hopefully) refreshing break, it’s time to make more calls, meetings or do research-based work. As long as you’ve completed your most important task during your morning, you can move on to whatever has the next highest priority for the day.
End of work
To make sure you switch off and don’t worry about work in the evening, it’s a good idea to introduce a short end of work routine. If you can, plan your work for the next day by listing out your priorities. This will ensure you can relax in the evening and recharge for the next day.
Top Tools: Structuring Your Day
- Use a journal or notepad for your morning routine
- Use Google Calendar to schedule your time blocks and tasks
- TickTick is a great resource for daily tasks
- Evernote is a daily sketchpad with an admin panel
- You can even monitor spikes in productivity using ResueTime, which tracks the time you spend online and categorises it.