Freedom Through Planning

I keep every todo item, whether for work or home, in one place. For me, it is OmniFocus. Whenever a task pops up, I capture its name, the date I plan to do it, client name and the length of time I expect it to take me (ex. “NIKE - design layout for new shirt tag - 30min” ). It’s all a guess, but it’s better than nothing. I keep my eye on the number of tasks I’m planning for the coming week and try not to overfill each day. The Forecast view in the iPad version of OmniFocus is great for doing this. It helps prevent me from overbooking my week or overextending my client obligations.

Each night, I look at the tasks I’ve marked as due for the next day and add up their estimated working times. I might adjust that list up or down depending on my available work hours for that day (meetings can pop up and eat time, though I try to always add meetings as tasks in my todo list, set as due for the day of the meeting). My aim is to have enough tasks on my list for the day to fill up about 90% of my available time.

Then I just plan them out. A client might need their artwork earlier in the day, so I’ll schedule their’s first. I assign each task to a time of the day, using their estimated work times as a guide (ex. “8:30–9:00 - Nike: shirt tag”, “9:00–10:00 - Clark: book cover edits”, etc). From open to close, I string my day together like a chain.

Is it worth it? It depends on how you work. I like structure, so this is perfect for me. It binds me to a series of goals and keeps me busy yet efficient. The better I get at this, the more I can accomplish in a week. The more I accomplish, the more jobs I can take on.

If you don’t plan your day, you are letting your day control you. You’ll be open to distraction and disorder. Learn to plan it out instead. You’ll discover so much freedom in that planning.