7 tips to keeping a work diary

Whether you're a planner or not, or like to use technology to record everything or not, there are lots of ways to help you monitor your to-do list. Having a diary whether online or paper-based can be a really helpful, tangible way of keeping track of your day-to-day, weekly, and monthly tasks.

1. Less opportunity to procrastinate

If you've written down a task or activity and scheduled it to a particular day, you're more likely to actually action it.

2. Online or paper-based

It makes no difference whether it's online or paper-based, as long as it works for you. Find the method you prefer and really make use of it. I prefer paper=based as I find it more visual and more satisfying to tick items off as I go along.

3. Daily to-do lists

You can assign tasks and activities to specific days and then forget about them until the actual day.

4. Be realistic

Don't overfill each day - set yourself realistic, achievable targets. If you try and assign too much to a day, you're setting yourself up to fail. If you do get through your list for the day, you can either reward yourself with a well-deserved break or just pick something from another day's list and get that done too.

5. Colour coding

It's hugely helpful to assign different colours to things like meetings, networking, travel, urgent tasks, clients, preparation time, and admin. It makes your diary very visual and helps you see at a glance what your time is scheduled for.

6. Specific days

Schedule tasks for specific days of the month. If you know you have a specific deadline, or know that you need to complete an order or service for a client every month on/by a certain date, or a monthly networking event that you need to remember, assign it in advance to that particular day. Action anything that you need to for this task/event in advance, and then forget about it knowing that it's in your plan and accounted for.

7. Wiggle Room

If you have deadlines or several activities to complete for a project, then add in a bit of wiggle room. It's really important to build in a bit of slack to take account of interruptions or the unexpected.

You can spend fortunes on special diaries with lots of varying features, but essentially they all do the same thing, which is help you to plan your working days, to manage your time more wisely, and to help you to stay focused.