I’ve used a variety of to-do lists and productivity tools over the years, and having a clear idea of what I’m going to be working on during the day keeps me focused and helps me achieve my goals. Winging it usually results in wasted time and rushing to meet deadlines.
While there are great diaries like the Passion Planner and Panda Planner available, I settled on this simple A4 daily planner that I printed myself until I went travelling and needed something virtual (Things for Mac).
The Most Important Task
Once you’ve got your priorities straight you’ll have a good idea of what you need to do first – your Most Important Task. Having this written down can focus you and make sure you do this before getting distracted or doing the fun things first. There are spaces for the name of the task, a box to tick when you’ve completed it, and if you are selling services, a box to enter how much this task has made for you.
This is also a gentle reminder of what you’ve set as your most important priority for the day should you get distracted.
Other Daily Tasks
The next box has lines for all the other tasks you have to do today. More than 3-4 additional tasks and you’re probably going to get frazzled and suffer from the Cognitive Switching Penalty which will slow you down. As before, there are boxes for the name of the task, a tickbox to celebrate finishing it and a box for how much it earned you.
At the end of the day you can then tot up how much you made, if your business works like that. You probably know how much you need or want to make a day and this keeps you focused on earning towards this target.
Checking Banks and Updating Invoices
You’ll need to keep an eye on incoming payments and update your invoices or billing system (depending on what kind of business you run) and this is a reminder to do so daily.
You’ll probably have a list of clients to contact every day, so here’s a space to list them. Extra points for doing Deep Work including your Most Important Task in the morning and making calls etc in the afternoon. Any missed calls can go on this list too.
If you’re anything like me you have a variety of unconnected thoughts throughout the day which can easily distract you. This area is a parking place for all those thoughts and reminders for yourself. Writing them down can get them out of your head, stop you forgetting them and allow you to return to them later once you’ve done your Most Important Task and hit your target.
Download the Daily Planner for Freelancers
Click here to download the planner in PDF format.
In this article we’ve outlined a free daily planner for freelancers, describing how it can help keep you focused on tasks that will help you reach your creative and financial goals.
Do you use a different daily planner? Tell us what you think of it in the comments below.