What are the most important moments of the day? The 20 minutes you commit to planning.
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You're thinking, Planning? Yuck.
I know for some people it's a dreaded word, but don't worry. I'm not talking about writing a business plan or setting annual goals. I'm simply talking about dedicating 20 minutes to prioritizing and organizing your day.
The 20 minutes you spend today can save hours tomorrow and turn a good day into a great day.
Everyone knows that the most valuable resource entrepreneurs have is time. So stop giving it away to people and spending it on activities you don't care about. People say if only there were more hours in the day, they could get everything done. But what about those two hours spent watching The Bachelor? Or that hour-long meeting with a vendor trying to sell you something that you know you aren't going to buy? Been there? I know I have.
It's crucial that entrepreneurs protect their time like the Night's Watch guards the wall in the Game of Thrones. This means declining interesting opportunities. This means choosing one person over another to schedule that long meeting with. This means saying no without worrying about hurting someone's feelings. This means realizing that saying no today allows you to say yes tomorrow to something that means more.
My daily plan.
Today I completed my morning planning for the 504th time. It's a daily routine of mine that is now a programmed habit. I started this habit on Dec. 4, 2012, and I call it my "8 for the Day." The process is simple:
1. I write down the eight goals I want to accomplish that day. I figure if I can’t get eight things done in an eight-hour day, then I’m doing the wrong things.
2. Six of those goals are professional and two are personal. Personal goals include things like going for a run or having a date night with my wife.
3. The next morning, I check off the goals I accomplished, see how I did, reassess and then create a new list for the day.
4. On Saturdays, I flip the ratio and set six personal goals and two professional goals, which may be as simple as paying the bills. This is an effort to encourage weekend fun and discourage weekend work.
On Sundays, there is no list making. I need time to rest and a day free of lists.
Committing 20 minutes a day (sometimes less) to setting daily goals and organizing priorities has been so beneficial to my work, personal life, and overall health and well-being. The "8 for the Day" exercise is something I created that works for me, but there are other great tactics for planning your day.
Tim Ferriss suggests writing three to five things down and then choosing one task to commit time to completing. Gina Trapani chooses her most important thing or MIT. Choose or create a system that works for you.
The point is not when you plan your day, just that you do it. I love to start my day with dedicated time to focus on and visualize how my day will unfold, and what I can do to make it successful. Others like to spend the last 20 minutes before they go to bed thinking about tomorrow and making a game plan.
You choose your most important 20 minutes of your day. The question is, How will you spend them?
This article originally appeared at Entrepreneur. Copyright 2014.