A short, prioritized daily card is the most effective to do list template you can use to make a planner that works for you.
Do you have a planner that helps guide your moment by moment decisions about what to do each day? Is it working for you?
Every week inside Simply Convivial Continuing Education, we do a live trouble shooting session and answer questions like that. Today, I have a clip from one such session all about our daily cards and how to make them work for ourselves because the same planning method is not going to work the same for everyone. We all need to learn how we work best and adapt and adjust accordingly
The daily card is a term that we use from Work the Plan for your daily to do list. So, you might have a planner, but are you using it? Does it really help or is it a waste of time?
Using this to do list template will help you not waste time planning, but still take advantage of thinking deliberately about how you’ll spend the day.
The daily card can be just a card, just a post-it, an index card, or it can be a section in the planner. The point of it is to keep a very truncated, limited, small set of tasks for that day alone.
How to use this to-do list template
So, you make a list of the top priorities for that day. And you re-do it every day. You might make it the night before, or you might make it the morning of, but you’re not making a daily card for every day of the week during your weekly review. Every day you’re renewing your task list and adjusting because sometimes the needs and the priorities of where our attention needs to go for the day do really adjust on a day-by-day basis, and I think now more than ever, we recognize that.
How do you decide what your daily three are? Can it be in all different kinds of formats? Are the tasks typically habitual things? How do you keep wishful thinking off the daily card?
People often say, “Mine turn into a daily brain dump, so I struggle with knowing which three to put on my card.”
Knowing what to put on the card—that is the hardest part for everybody. And so, what we have to remember is the reason why we do a daily card every single day is for the practice so that we keep iterating, we keep learning, we learn from the previous day, and implement that the next day.
The template for your to-do list is simple: Just a list of three. It doesn’t have to be fancier than that. This template is repeatable, quickly and effectively – and it’s the repetition that makes it work.
So, the more and more we practice, the better and better we get at knowing what needs to go on the list. If you’ve made a daily card before and you find at the end of the day that really what you put on your list was wishful thinking and not what actually was important to do today that’s something to think about. That’s what you adjust moving forward.
I make a better daily list when I do it the night before rather than the morning of (and that’s not a universal thing.) It really depends on person to person. But, for myself, when I stop at the end of the day and I look at the list that I made for that day and see what did and didn’t happen, I make a more realistic plan for the next day when I’m tired and wishing I had accomplished what was on my list.
In the morning, I feel more like, ‘Oh, fresh start, everything’s possible!’ I tend to be more energetic and optimistic in the morning and my to do list will reflect that. So, I make a more realistic to do list if I do it the night before. Your mileage may vary, but the point is to try it out. Try different times, try different formats, try different ways to write out your list, and learn.
So, think of each daily list as an experiment and you can apply what you’ve learned to the next day’s card.