Plan Your Days … or Else


Everyone has the same number every day. In case you haven’t done the math. There are 86,400 seconds in 24 hours. Everyone has the same amount to start every day. These 86,400 seconds will tick by no matter what we do. It’s our responsibility to use them wisely.

What will you do with your 86,400?

Most people will spend about 8 hours working and about 8 hours sleeping. The other 8 are up for grabs. Many people will spend a lot more hours working and give up a few more sleeping hours. Some people can keep this pace up for their whole lives. That’s great if you are one of these people. Others need more sleep or more downtime. If that’s you … that’s Ok. Just plan accordingly.

Since Work and Sleep may take up 2/3’s of a typical day how we spend these hours may not be completely up to us. But, how we spend our “other” 8 hours is very much up to us.

I realize we have lots of entrepreneurs and solo-preneurs out there. Most of the people I know in these roles work many more than 8 hours … I know where they spend their “other” eight.

Use your Eight Wisely

How you spend your other eight hours is up to you. During these “other” eight hours there are a lot of things we can do. Some of these hours will be consumed with commuting time and other commitments that we don’t have much control over. Some will be filled by family or work commitments. This is all well and good, but you need to block off some time for yourself.

For me I try to block off time every day to:

  • Read
  • Think
  • Exercise
  • Do Nothing

Some might say … Doing Nothing is Not Productive

There are times in our days, our weeks and our months where we can actually get more done by doing nothing. In these times we can be re-charging, re-thinking and re-evaluating.

Plan for downtime and take them when you plan them.

Below are a few Tools, Routines, Realities and Risks that I use to help keep on track as I try to use my 86,400 seconds wisely.


  • Use a Calendar
    • This might be obvious, but it should be stated. Use a calendar and stick to it. Use it to plan your days, calibrate the time you plan vs. the actual time to complete a task, and as a way to make the most of your 86,400.
  • Microsoft Outlook – Calendar function with tasks.
    • You can show the whole day, the work week or the full week, or the month.
  • Google Calendar –
    • You can do the same things as Outlook
  • DayTimer – Old Fashioned Pen and Paper.
    • Yes, the analog method still works perfectly well.
    • Added bonus … It always boots up!

Whatever works for you … use it.


  • Monday – Friday: Print your daily calendar and put it in a laminated page protector. Then use it to aggressively use your time wisely. If someone wants, expects or needs something from you … work with them to get it on your calendar.

If it’s not “Calendar Worthy” you can be upfront with the person and let them know this may not be a good use of your time. Is this fair? I think the answer is YES. You know where you need to spend your time. You can let people know where your priorities exist. Your calendar will help people know where and how you prioritize your time.

What I tell people is: If it’s not on my calendar it does NOT exist.

Harsh? Yes. But also very true.

  • Sunday: Look over your schedule for the week. Plan to be ready for the weeks meetings … instead of being surprised and unprepared by weak meetings.


The reality is … things happen. Plans change. Deadlines move around. Customers, partners, colleagues, and families (yes you need to plan time for your family and friends) will need things at times that don’t align perfectly with your calendar.

That’s life. Plan for the unexpected by blocking off times or by giving yourself some extra cushion to achieve a deadline. You’ll feel a lot less stress and you’ll be able to get more done.

The Biggest Reality: Everyone has the same 86,400 seconds every day. Planning to use them wisely will reduce your stress and will ultimately make you productive.

As an added bonus you will become a much better judge of your skills — both for time management and also for what you like to do. Why do I say this? Because you will be more attuned to what your skills are and for your best times to work.

Also, you will schedule more time … or at least prime time … for what you really like to do.

Speaking of Prime Time

Some people are night owls. Some people are morning people. Everyone has different times that they are more productive. By monitoring your time with a calendar you will find what times of day are best for you for thinking, doing critical tasks (number crunching, creative efforts, etc.), doing mundane tasks (expense reports, updating CRM, etc.) and even for daydreaming. Using a calendar will allow you to plan accordingly and use your time more effectively.

Secret: You might even learn something about yourself. You might find that your best work is done during odd hours. Adapt and adjust to these circadian rhythm clues. Because they will help you to be your best and get the most out of your 86,400 seconds per day.


The biggest risk is … Not planning your time. Because if you don’t plan your days … someone else will.

What will you do with your 86,400?


Jeff  is a veteran in the Enterprise Content Management industry. Over the past 20 years he has worked with customers and partners to design, develop and deploy solutions around the world. Jeff is currently the Director of Strategic Alliances at Winshuttle. He has worked for Microsoft, FileNet (IBM), K2, Captaris, Open Text, Kofax and Kodak. He speaks and blogs about ECM and the Intersection between Social, Mobile and Cloud Computing.