I’m a planner and I loathe surprises. Whether it’s at work or in my personal life, I’ve found that planning ahead has been the key to managing my time effectively. Not only does this help prevent last minute stress, by inducing the scramble to get things done, but it provides a clear roadmap for your day, prepares you for what’s to come and helps you feel more organized and on top of your game. Here are the top three things I do to keep myself in line.

  1. Calendar

The first thing I do to manage my time is I utilize a digital calendar. I prefer the one on my iPhone because it’s easy to access, but any will do. This is where I keep track of appointments, special events, major work deadlines, when members of my team will be out of the office, etc.

  1. To-do List

This is where I keep track of my daily projects and tasks. Every night, I take a few minutes to type these items into the notepad on my phone. Next to each, I add the time or an estimated  time range that I’ll spend tackling that task. This helps me see my day in full, from beginning to end. As I finish a task, I’ll erase it from my list and if I just couldn’t get to it and if it can wait, I’ll move it to the bottom so it can go to the top of the list the next day.

  1. Alarms

This one may seem a little strange, but after I finish my to do list each night, I set phone alarms for the “major, can’t wait” tasks that MUST be tackled. This ensures I won’t forget any of the important items. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been lost in a project and my alarm has gone off to remind me to call a client or to check in with someone when a deadline was approaching.

Nowadays, there are so many ways to stay organized and on task. My methods are simple, but they work for me. How do you stay organized and manage your time effectively?