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A toolkit for designing your day

If you design your day so that you’re devoting the majority of your time to high-value activities, you’re going to be more productive – and more valuable to your team.

Here are five tactics you can use to design better working days for yourself.

1. Keeping on track

Peter Bregman summarised an approach to planning and organising your day using just 18 minutes of it, in a post for the Harvard Business Review blog network. The key here is doing hourly reviews of your work against the goals you set, to make sure you’re getting the results you need.

2. Starting well

Bregman has a plan for the first five minutes of your working day, in the article linked to above. However, the whole first hour can be critical in making the most of it. Fast Company’s Kevin Purdy suggests some of the best ways of using it to get your day in shape – including ignoring your email, and getting the job you’ve been dreading out of the way before anything else. 

3. Managing inputs

If you’re struggling with information overload and an always-on culture, McKinsey has a useful framework for dealing with the problem. In short: focus, filter and forget. Giving yourself permission to ignore certain things can be a major step towards a smarter everyday.

4. Analysing time spent

Do you really know how you’re spending your time right now? If not, the MindTools Activity Log framework might allow you to start designing your day from a position of knowledge. Put some time into logging your activity today, and see what results you uncover.


5. Increasing value

If you don’t have time to commit to that, perhaps a quick analysis of your last working week will allow you to spot which activities were high value, and which had no value at all. Tom Searcy at Inc. provides a simple model for making your committed time more valuable.

Take a moment to consider these five tips, and see which fit best into designing your own personal day. We all have different productivity needs, and there is no such thing as a ‘universal fix’, but with a little experimentation, we hope you’ll soon start to see valuable results that work great for you.

We’d be really interested to hear how you get on, so come back and share your learnings with us, or share your own productivity tactics. To download our latest ebook on designing your day, visit

Image credit: TT Zop