Should You Plan Your Day Hour by Hour?

In some books, I often read that you should plan your day hour by hour, but as soon as I try to implement this into my life, I get stressed out, because there will always be something that disturbed that plan.

I found out, that planning your day hour by hour isn’t the most effective way of time-management. You often don’t follow your plan and get frustrated when you don’t get everything done. It is also hard to predict how long it will take for you to do certain things like eating, traveling or talking to others.

 

What are the benefits of planning your day hour by hour?

It’s often said, that planning your day hour by hour creates momentum. Momentum is when you start being productive and achieving a little goal over and over again. This should motivate you to keep going and to stay productive. After hitting those little goals hour by hour, you achieve greater goals day by day, week by week and so on. These little achievements make us feel happy.

Another reason for doing that is goal-setting. Books often talk about engineering your life from your goal backward. That means you set a big goal and break it down to little goals to achieve every month, week, day and in some cases even to the hour. When you keep checking off your hourly goals, you will eventually reach a big goal, because you stayed on track.

 

The problem with planning hour by hour:

First, you will become incredibly inflexible. You won’t be able to spontaneously go out with your friends, grab something to eat, or enjoy a little time for yourself. This is the first thing I noticed following this technique. You start locking yourself into your own plan. You create a prison for yourself.

When someone dares to mess with your plan, you start to become angry and blame the other person for destroying your life, as if this one hour of unproductive time would completely shatter your dreams. You start getting impolite, especially to the slow driver in front of you, the slow cashier at the supermarket or your PC, not booting fast enough.

The sad result of planning your day hour by hour is, that you will get frustrated, angry and especially stressed.

The other reason why you shouldn’t plan your day this way is that you won’t follow through it. As I mentioned above, there will always be something in your life that will hinder you to achieve what you planned to do. You can’t avoid this. You want to create your own world, but all outside factors are against you. You will never be satisfied with your day and your motivation will drop significantly.

So in the end, those little interruptions throughout the day will make you lose momentum, instead of creating it, at least that’s what I found for myself. One week was enough for me to realize that this technique doesn´t increase your potential, but diminish it. To show you exactly why here is an example:

 

Example

My plan:

6:00 AM Reading 20 pages of “The ONE Thing”
7:00 AM Exercising
8:00 AM Meditating
9:00 AM Finishing my school-project

 

In this example, I want to spend the first hour of my day reading a book. I set the goal for myself to read 20 pages of “The ONE Thing” by Gary W. Keller and Jay Papasan. Here is the first problem: How can I know when I’m finished reading? You can guess roughly how long it will take you, in this example, you could read 20 pages in 40 minutes or less. For other books, you need more than one hour. So it is different from book to book.

Let’s say I finish reading within 40 minutes. Then I have two options: Either I rest for 20 minutes until 7:00 AM or I get a headstart a start right after reading. In this example, I decide to rest and listen to some music. When I see 7:00 AM on the clock I start exercising. Unfortunately, the exercise takes more time than expected. I start blaming myself for my decision to listen to music instead of getting a headstart. I finish at 7:30 AM.

Now I want to meditate. But I didn’t encounter the fact, that it’s not easy to meditate when your heart is pounding after the exercise. I wait until I cool down, take a shower and start meditating. It’s now 7:55 AM, but I wanted to meditate for 15 minutes. Now again I have two decisions: Either I meditate for 5 minutes or I finish at 8:15 AM. I decide to meditate for 5 minutes. I couldn’t really concentrate, because I was a little stressed and I hadn’t a lot of time to focus on my breathing.

Now I want to finish my school-project, but being limited to one hour, I had to really quickly write things down and research information which led to a poor quality of my work.

I hope you got the point. Of course, you can say that I could have planned two hours for my school-work or my exercise, but you won’t be able to precisely guess the time you will need to finish something. You also often end up with a poor quality of work, especially at the end of the day, because you will have less and less time. It stresses you out.

 

What´s the alternative?

I have found for myself that planning week by week is most effective. You set goals for the week and then plan every evening what you want to do. All appointments are written down in your calendar and you can fill out the time with working on those goals. I plan the night before what I would like to accomplish that day, depending on the available time I have. I think this is the perfect way to keep momentum to achieve your goals, but also to be free to decide whether or not you want to go out with your friends or go for a walk. You have much more peace of mind this way and the quality of your work won’t suffer, since you work on a task, until it is finished, which sometimes requires several days.

Conclusion:

  • Planning hour by hour isn’t very helpful to achieve what you want, because you will be stressed out.
  • Often you cannot follow your plan, because you didn´t assume a task to take as long as it did.
  • You will get frustrated and lose momentum.
  • Alternative: Set goal week by week and then plan the night before what you want to accomplish the following day. You are much more flexible and still won’t lose momentum.

I hope you now have a clear picture of why it’s not very beneficial to plan hour by hour and have some ideas of how to plan your days and weeks to stay on track. If you have other ideas, let me know in the comments. As always I would be happy for some correction of my language. I hope you have a wonderful and productive day! 🙂



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