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What to Avoid When Planning Your Day

It's time to get into the weeds! Plan your day like a star with a few simple guides to keep in the back of your mind. Where do you start? First things first... don't skip!

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It’s time to get into the weeds! Plan your day like a star with a few simple guides to keep in the back of your mind. Where do you start? First things first… don’t skip!

From there, it’s a piece of cake! This week on the show we’re reviewing the transition from weekly planning to daily planning; how do you take those big rocks and provide just enough detail in your time management so you’re able to get things done? Plus, we review our own individual processes for daily planning and look forward to hearing more from you!


Episode Transcript

Brought to you by The ADHD Podcast Community on Patreon

Pete Wright:
Hello, everybody, and welcome to Taking Control: The ADHD Podcast on TruStory FM. I’m Pete Wright, and I’m here with Nikki Kinzer.

Nikki Kinzer:
Hello, everyone. Hello, Pete Wright.

Pete Wright:
Oh, Nikki. We’re going to do some more planning today.

Nikki Kinzer:
Yes.

Pete Wright:
Yeah. We’re going to plan our day.

Nikki Kinzer:
I laugh because you’re going to ask me what to avoid.

Pete Wright:
Yeah.

Nikki Kinzer:
And I have a really clear answer.

Pete Wright:
Is it, “Avoid talking to Pete, because he will take you down a path and distract you in conversations that are inappropriate for a podcast”?

Nikki Kinzer:
Like celebrity crushes?

Pete Wright:
Just saying, if you got to have a thing not to talk to Pete about, it’s celebrity crushes. But yeah, I can’t wait to hear what your clear answer is about planning your day. We’re continuing our conversation about planning and productivity. Last week we talked about what to avoid when planning your week. How do you move the big rocks around on the board? And today we’re talking about how to actually fit them in on a given day. And how do you stay on top of stuff so you don’t burn out? You don’t burn out, but you still get things done.
Before we do that, head over to takecontroladhd.com. Get to know us a little bit better. You can listen to the show right there on the website, or subscribe to our mailing list, and we will send you an email with a new episode each week. Connect with us on Twitter or Facebook at takecontroladhd.
And if the show has ever touched you, help us out. Head over to patreon.com/theadhdpodcast and join our wonderful community of Patreon supporters. Patreon is a listener-supported podcasting, so every dollar you contribute over there with your monthly donation goes back to us being able to do new things, which we are doing, continuing to do. In fact, I think we have a meeting, as we record this, the day after tomorrow. After that meeting, I think we’re going to launch our next new thing, and I’m very excited about it, because I think we’re darn near close. So it’s going to be really great. Thank you to everybody for your ongoing support and participation. Again, patreon.com/theadhdpodcast. If you were a patron at the supreme level, you’d be watching this livestream right now, and that whole crack about celebrity crushes would make a lot more sense, because I got 15 minutes of celebrity crush talk on the livestream today. So it’s bananas. You can’t miss it. Patreon.com/theadhdpodcast. Thank you, everybody, for your support.
Nikki?

Nikki Kinzer:
Yes?

Pete Wright:
What do you avoid when planning your day?

Nikki Kinzer:
What do you avoid? You don’t skip it.

Pete Wright:
Oh. Oh. Feel like you’re scolding me.

Nikki Kinzer:
I know. You can’t avoid doing it. We have to do it. So the whole thing about what to avoid is just not to not do it. You have to do it.

Pete Wright:
Yeah, you have to do it.

Nikki Kinzer:
Don’t skip it.

Pete Wright:
You have to do it.

Nikki Kinzer:
Make it important. So the podcast is done now. The show’s over. That’s all.

Pete Wright:
Yeah, it’s pretty much over. I was thinking we could use at least the next two minutes and do a little visioning exercise. Maybe you could walk us through how you plan your day. Do you want to do that? What do you do? What’s your process?

Nikki Kinzer:
I do want to do that, but before I do that, I want to ask you how you do that too. But I do want to talk about just some of the basics of why it is important that we do this, because so many people don’t, and that’s why I say that’s what you want to avoid, is to not do it.
But what does it mean to plan for your day? So for me personally, it is taking a moment to review your calendar and your task list. And this is what I would say to people. This is what it means. It just means that you’re going over the day. What’s going on? What meetings do I have? How busy is my day? What do I need to work on? What did I plan? What do I need to adjust? So it’s not really doing anything much more than just looking at your list and looking at your calendar.
Now, if you did the weekly plan, which is what we talked about last week, then you should have a pretty good idea of what you need to do, because you’ve already gone through the prioritization and the planning and time-blocking, so these really do go hand-in-hand. You want to do that weekly plan, but then you also want to check on a daily basis where you’re at.
And I think there’s a few things that make it really necessary. One is it gives you the time to adjust your plans, because I know and you know and everybody that’s listening knows that just because you plan something doesn’t mean it’s going to happen. And for the most part, it doesn’t happen the way you planned it. You have to expect it not to go the way that you think it’s going to go. And so when you’re looking at things on a day-to-day basis, it gives you that direction for the day like, “All right, so what do I need to do today? Where do I start? What kinds of things do I need to do to get ready for that meeting today?”
It’s giving you a moment to also ask yourself, “How do I want to show up for my day?” And I think that’s really important, because when you have a moment to reflect and say, “Okay, I really want to show up for my clients. I really want to show up for the podcast. I really want to send out a positive vibe,” whatever it is, then you’re setting the stage for that. So I do believe it’s necessary not only to keep you on track but also to give you that moment to just say, “How do I want to show up?”

Pete Wright:
I like that. That’s a nice way to look at it. I don’t tend to think of it that way often, and I should, just as another frame around which to think about my time, is how I want to be present in it. Because so much of my thinking about daily planning is just moving rocks around, just moving pieces around on the board.

Nikki Kinzer:
When can you do the daily plan or daily review? I would say first thing in the morning or the last thing that you do in the evening. For me, it’s really hard to do anything in the evening. So after I’m done with my last client or I’m done with the project, I tend to just leave my office. So for me, I know that the evening is not going to be a time that I’m going to look at anything. But I will look at my schedule and my things in the morning before I start.
And one of the things that I would say is that we want to avoid having it not be important. And the way that that happens is we get distracted by doing other things. So if you go into your office or wherever you’re working and you go straight to your email, you’re probably not going to do a daily review or plan. If you’re thinking you’re going to do it in the middle of the day, it’s really easy to forget about it or not do it, because other things are going to come up that are going to be more important. I did put an exception here.

Pete Wright:
What’s that?

Nikki Kinzer:
And that is my GPS program. And I’m not saying that just because. I really have a good reason for this. On the East Coast, my GPS program doesn’t start until noon, if you’re on the Eastern Time Zone. And for some people that is an inconvenient time. But the reason I think it’s okay for my GPS people is because you actually have a very dedicated time and space where you’re planning. You have somewhere where you’re going. You have other people who are going to be there. You’ve got a coach who’s directing you, and you’ve paid for the service. So you’re probably going to show up, right?

Pete Wright:
Right. All your productivity pals are there. You don’t want to let them down.

Nikki Kinzer:
Yes, you do not want to let your PPs down, so it is really important that we do not let the peeps down.

Pete Wright:
Do not let the peeps down. Absolutely not.

Nikki Kinzer:
Yeah, yeah. So I just wanted to throw that in here, because I just think it’s different when you have a dedicated time and space.

Pete Wright:
Right, right. So how do you do it? How do you personally do it? I want to know what it is about your planning ritual.

Nikki Kinzer:
It’s habit. And I want people to make it a habit. And I know it’s so hard to do that when it’s not a ritual for you already. I already have a ritual that I do unconsciously in the morning. When I’m done with work, I… Not work. When I’m done getting ready, I come into the office and I, like what you would say, open it up. I make sure that all the lights are on, and I will open up the window often, water my little bamboo plant. If I have my essential oils on, I’m going to do that. I’m going to go get my cup of coffee. I’m going to come back into the office. And what I do is I look at my calendar. Who am I meeting today? How much time do I have in between meetings? And then I look at my things list and I think, “What am I going to do in between those meetings?” If I don’t already know.
Now, for me it comes very natural, and I know that it doesn’t for everyone. So what I want people to know is that it’s okay if you have to have reminders. It’s okay if you have to have beeps going on to tell you to check your calendar, your to-do list. And don’t worry about it if you don’t do it every day. You can always do it tomorrow. That’s the great thing about it.
But it really is a tool. It’s a habit that’s going to help you feel more in control of your day so that you’re being more proactive than reactive. And so when we look at it as a positive thing, not a burden, it can really be very helpful, because when we don’t have any idea where we’re going to go or what we’re going to do, it’s stressful. You can just stay there frozen and not do anything, even though you have a million things to do.
The other thing that I do in the morning that helps too is not just the looking at the calendar and the list, but there are a couple of things that I do first thing in the morning all the time. So for me, I always check Slack. I always check Discord. So all you Discord people, I’m looking at you every morning and [crosstalk 00:10:48] every afternoon.

Pete Wright:
Right, right. And that’s also why you’re not around during the middle of the day, because you have it blocked.

Nikki Kinzer:
I have it blocked to look at it in the morning and to look at it before I leave. And I have that on my things as a reoccurring event. So when I come in in the morning, I know I always look at Slack. I always look at Discord. I also have a list of clients that I’m going to check in with. So anybody that’s worked with me, you are probably getting your check-in around 9:00 Pacific, at around noon in Eastern Time. And there’s a reason for that, because that’s when I do my check-ins. So there are-

Pete Wright:
Nikki’s looking at things now.

Nikki Kinzer:
Yeah, yeah. So there are things that I just do on a ritual, routine basis that starts my day. And I don’t go into reactive mode. So what about you?

Pete Wright:
So I… Okay. You embarrassed me the other day, and I just have to say out loud, in the time course we-

Nikki Kinzer:
How did I embarrass you?

Pete Wright:
I actually recorded myself in a video talking apparently about how I didn’t like Todoist.

Nikki Kinzer:
Oh, you loathed it.

Pete Wright:
Yeah, I loathed it. It was very frustrating. And let me say, first of all, a lot of work has been done on the app since then.

Nikki Kinzer:
Yes, it has.

Pete Wright:
And it’s now a lot better, and it’s now the thing that I use. And you know what they say about opinions and a-holes, right? Everyone has one, and they always stink. Yours truly is not immune to that. I have changed my opinion on Todoist.
There are a lot of things I don’t like about it in terms of just usability, but one thing that I love very much that applies to this conversation is the today agenda view, where I can put things into this, and it’s tied to my calendar, so I no longer have to do the old thing where I used to drag tasks for my task list into time slots on my calendar. I just set the time in Todoist or move the block around on my calendar, and they sync between the two. So I still have a thing to check off where I can see the overall structure of my day.
And I do that in the morning and in the evening. And I usually do it… I’m still in bed, honestly. The first thing I do is I wake up, I put my glasses on, and I bring up the phone, and I just look at the day, and I start moving things around so that I know, when am I going to need to really get started? Has anything changed overnight that I need to move around? And I build out the rough sketch of my day so I know what my plan is after my shower. At the end of the day, around 4:00, I do the same thing, and I look at the next day, the evening and next day, because there’s always evening stuff. A lot of time I’ll end up doing that in the car. I’m waiting in a parking lot for a kid to finish swimming or running or whatever activity they’re doing, and so I’ll be doing that mobile. So I do that on the phone or on the iPad.
And as you know, I’m a huge, huge fan of hyper-scheduling, of doing that sort of block scheduling thing, and have been doing that for years. So pretty much every minute of my day is accountable to something that I am able to able to attribute to an activity, because… And I think this is an important distinction. Planning your day has nothing to do with what work you have to do, or how many jobs you’re working, or whether you’re not working jobs at all. Planning your day has everything to do with time and how you’re going to put your body in that time. Anything you want to accomplish, whether you’re looking for a job, or looking for a new job, or working three jobs, all of those things have time associated with them, and planning your day will determine the degree to which you successfully finish your day with stress or without it. And I think that’s super important. It doesn’t matter… And that’s why early on in this podcast, we talked about getting rid of this idea that you have a work calendar and a personal calendar. That’s a joke.

Nikki Kinzer:
It is, yeah.

Pete Wright:
That is a horrible thing for the way my brain works, because time doesn’t care if I’m at work or at home-

Nikki Kinzer:
Or at home, right.

Pete Wright:
-or sick or on the weekend. It doesn’t care. Time is a harsh mistress. So that’s an important lesson, and it was an important lesson for me. Once you make that switch, it gives you more flexibility about when you’re going to do things that are for the job and when you’re going to do things that are for you. So I think that’s important.

Nikki Kinzer:
I think so too. [crosstalk 00:15:34].

Pete Wright:
I have one more rule.

Nikki Kinzer:
Oh, sure.

Pete Wright:
Can I say one more rule?

Nikki Kinzer:
Yeah, please.

Pete Wright:
This is another lesson that I think I learned probably the hard way. I’m sure I learned it the hard way. I’m a big Calendly fan. You’re a Calendly fan. I know you’re a Calendly user too. We just upgraded our Calendly accounts for the team here, and now everybody has the Calendly Premium. And one of the things I was reflecting on over the weekend as I was thinking about this show is, the default meeting duration when you go to Calendly to schedule time with any new user or any new meeting appointment is usually an hour or, if you’re judicious about it, a half hour, if you’re conscientious about taking up somebody else’s time when you request a meeting.
And I know there are some things that require an hour to do, but most things don’t. Most things require a half hour or less or 15 minutes. And so I try to think in smaller blocks and, and this is the big lesson, build buffer time into the meeting itself. So in my Calendly, when you try to get an appointment with me, you don’t get 15 minutes, you get 10 minutes for the shortest meeting. You don’t get a half hour, you get 25 minutes. You don’t get 60 minutes, you get 55 minutes. Because that way I have buffer time between one meeting and the next, and-

Nikki Kinzer:
Oh, right. I see what you’re saying.

Pete Wright:
You see what I’m saying? Because you will get it where people will schedule what is available, and suddenly you have no transition time. So I really recommend not thinking in terms of hours and half hours, but in terms of 25 minutes and 50 minutes, so that you have enough time for transition. Remember, we have ADHD. Transitions are naturally hard. Give yourself the time proactively to make those transitions intelligently.

Nikki Kinzer:
I agree. That’s great. Absolutely. The only thing I want to add to lessons learned is, again, this is going back to what we talked about at the beginning, your plan is not going to be set in stone. It is going to change and it has to be adjustable. But with that being said, what I find so many times with clients is they feel bad and they take on the shame and responsibility of, “Well, I had it planned that way, and I didn’t do it. I had it time-blocked that way, but I didn’t do it. I’ve tried it, but it doesn’t work, or I get distracted, or whatever.” And there can be these little roadblocks that get in your way.
But what I want people to do is not look at that with such judgment, but to look at it as more curiosity. Let’s be curious about that. If you really want to do this time-blocking that Pete and I are talking about, let’s figure out how you’re doing it and what’s getting in the way of doing it. Is it the wrong time? Is it the wrong task at the wrong time? Are you not giving yourself enough buffer time? But don’t take it as something that is your fault. This is something that’s new and something that you haven’t done before, certainly have not mastered. And so it’s one of those things that you have to keep practicing and not give up on it.
And that’s the thing about the daily review and the weekly plan, is that we tend to think it’s not as important, but it is. It is, because then it just gives you a little bit more guidance than just trying to jump in and not knowing where you’re going.

Pete Wright:
Huge.

Nikki Kinzer:
Yeah, yeah. But it’s all about adjusting too.

Pete Wright:
Yeah, yeah. And you said earlier, remember, if you miss today, that doesn’t mean the rest of your week has to fall apart.

Nikki Kinzer:
Or you need to have a new system.

Pete Wright:
Try it again tomorrow.

Nikki Kinzer:
Yeah, right. Absolutely not. There you go.

Pete Wright:
Well, thank you. Thank you, everybody, for hanging out with us, for downloading and listening to the show. We so appreciate your time and your attention. Don’t forget ,if you have something to contribute about the conversation, head over to the show talk channel in Discord, and you can join us right there by becoming a supporting member at the deluxe level. Patreon.com/theadhdpodcast. On behalf of Nikki Kinzer, I’m Pete Wright, and we’ll see you right back here next week on Taking Control: The ADHD Podcast.

Through Taking Control: The ADHD Podcast, Nikki Kinzer and Pete Wright strive to help listeners with support, life management strategies, and time and technology tips, dedicated to anyone looking to take control of their lives in the face ADHD.