Most of us suck at planning and it’s assumed that we all know how to do it.
After years of trial-and-error I want to show you a proven framework that we use at Asian Efficiency that allows you to plan the perfect day with an advanced tip at the end that will change the way plan… forever.
Let’s get started, shall we?
1. Plan the Night Before
This is the most underrated productivity tip ever: plan your perfect day the night before.
Most of us have probably heard of this… but are you actually doing it?
Don’t let its simplicity fool you. I used to think it was fine to skip it and plan my perfect day in the morning, but what I found is that it’s just not as effective.
Mornings can be unpredictable and you can easily get derailed by the smallest emergency. Before you know it, you’re just putting out fires all day, adding stuff to your todo list and running around like a headless chicken without knowing what you were supposed to be focusing on because you didn’t plan it the night before.
That’s why you want to plan the night before. When things are about to spiral out of control, you can always circle back to your original plan and focus on what’s actually important. On top of that:
- You have the most clarity the night before. You can look at your calendar and strategically calculate how you want your ideal day to flow.
- You’ll sleep better. Write down every single thing you will be doing and when you don’t have any open loops in your head, you’ll sleep much better. A strange but great side-benefit is that your brain overnight will “work on any problem” you might have. Don’t ask me why this is the case but from my experience this seems to be very true. If I have a challenge, I’ll often know the solution the next day when I wake up.
- You wake up with a purpose. Every single time when I plan my day the night before, I wake up with a sense of purpose. I know exactly what I need to do and there’s no thinking about what the next step is. I just get going and be productive right after my morning routine.
The challenge most of us have is sticking to this routine. What I would suggest is to make this part of your evening ritual (we have an excellent post on setting up one up).
Once it becomes habitual then there’s only one question left remaining that you need to ask yourself each time which I’ll cover in #3.
2. Tighten Your Morning Ritual
Once you have planned your perfect day the night before, then the next step is to jumpstart your day when you wake up and get into a flow where you can immediately start being productive.
That’s essentially what your morning ritual is for. As soon as you get out of bed, without fail and thinking, you know exactly what you need to do step-by-step to get yourself ready for a productive day.
You don’t want to have any guesswork when it comes to your morning ritual. It should be as routine as it can be and we have instructions in the AE Primer to set one up.
3. Determine Your Frog
Here’s one question you always have to ask yourself when you plan the perfect day the night before: what’s my frog?
As Mark Twain eloquently said: Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.
The idea behind it is that when you tackle the most annoying task as the first thing in the morning, everything else you’ll do that day will be relatively easy in comparison.
Consider it the most important thing you have to do that day. No matter what happens, if you don’t get this particular thing done you would consider it an unproductive day. That’s your frog.
So ask yourself this question each night – what’s my frog?
Once you know what it is, schedule it in your calendar to do this as the first task. So if you start work at 9am, then the first thing you do at 9am is eat your frog. No exceptions.
What you will find is that once you finished eating your frog, you’ll feel a huge sense of relief and that the rest of the day will just flow because it can’t get any worse than that frog you had for breakfast.
4. Structural Productivity For The Win
If you plan the night before, have a tight morning ritual and you know what your frog is – you’re already ahead of 99% of people.
For those who want take things to the next level, you need Structural Productivity. This a more intermediate and advanced concept and it’s one of the underlying ideas behind a lot of what we teach at Asian Efficiency.
The basic idea behind is that we all have activities that are non-negotiable. They have to get done regardless of what happens.
At a primal level they include:
You can also include things such as:
- family time
And so on. Everyone has fixed activities they have to do each day to live happy and productively.
Now what if you can schedule all these “fixed” activities?
That’s essentially what you do when you apply the concept of Structural Productivity. You set fixed times for all your non-negotiable activities. They need to happen anyway, so might as well schedule them in and then work around it. Everything else will be revolved around this – what we call allocated time.
This can look something like:
- 6am-7:30am – Morning Ritual
- 7:30am-9am – Exercise/Meal 1
- 9am-12pm – Frog eating.
- 12pm-1pm – Meal 2 (has built-in 30 minute break).
- 1pm-6pm – Allocated time #1.
- 6pm-7pm – Meal 3 (has built-in 30 minute break).
- 7pm-9pm – Allocated time #2.
- 9pm-10pm – Evening Ritual.
- 10pm – Sleep.
You can borrow this basic framework to plan your perfect day.
Did you notice that eating your frog is scheduled in? For the rest of the day, when you need to get other work done, you can do that during the times blocked as “allocated time”. This is where you can schedule meetings, do miscellaneous tasks or whatever you want to prioritize there.
Now you have a proven framework for planning your perfect day. Make sure to do it the night before, streamline your morning ritual and know what your frog is. To take it up a notch, apply the concept of Structural Productivity and you’ll be insanely Asian Efficient.
If you need help planning your day, head on over to The Dojo, our exclusive members-only community that is jam-packed with trainings, courses, masterclasses, podcasts, coaching calls, action plans, and productivity-focused individuals just like you. It’s an extremely supportive group, and if you have a planning challenge, I guarantee someone in there has dealt with it too.
Do you want to see more examples of our personal systems and workflows? We reveal them all on our Personal Systems seminar. It’s completely free and you’ll get to see the exact step-by-step systems and workflows that we personally use to be insanely productive. Register for the next available seminar here.