Manage your day, or your day will manage you.

How to Manage Your Days with A Daily Planner.

Studies show that it only takes one or two things that feel overwhelming for us to feel like our whole lives are completely out of control.

Working in the hospitality industry where all managers are notoriously time poor, managing our days effectively is critical to our mental health, our productivity, our ability to prioritise and our success as a leader.

There is a difference between crazy-manic-never-have-a-day-off-busy, and purposeful-productive busy. If you want to achieve the latter, you need to manage your days effectively. I have not come across a time management tool that does this as effectively as a daily planner. Of course, that’s why we created the VPTD Daily Planner for Hospitality Leaders. Learning effective diary management has been one of the most valuable and practical skills I have ever learned. The personal benefits to my state of mind and professional benefits to my focus, my ability to prioritise and effectiveness as a leader have been invaluable throughout my career.

Whether you use a VPTD Planner or a diary of your own, the process below WORKS.

Here’s how to effectively manage your days with a Daily Planner.

List tasks on the right side of the page (this is essentially your to-do list)

Be specific, clear and concise.

Break big projects into smaller tasks. Smaller tasks are less overwhelming and easier to tackle. Think about the first step that is required not the whole project.

Sometimes we can think we have ‘so much to do’ we don’t even know where to start. But, when we actually list the tasks, we realise it’s far less daunting than we thought.

Number tasks in order of priority

If you only got 1 thing done today, what would be your top priority? That’s number 1.

As you are going through your list, consider if there is anything that can be delegated.

Some days we may only tick off 1,2 and 3 and must move numbers 4, 5 and 6 to the next day. But if we’ve numbered in order of priority, at least we can be sure we tackled the most important things first.

Assign time frames to each task + stick to them 

So, you’ve created your to-do list. All tasks are numbered in order of priority. Now starting from number 1, allocate a specific time to do that task on your planner.

Our brain subconsciously helps us to complete tasks efficiently if we know we have a set time to complete them. Allow yourself the time allocated and stick to it. If you have given yourself 30 minutes to check your email in the morning, stick to it. If you have a management meeting from 10am to 11am be ready to finish at 11am. Don’t get side-tracked. Work to the schedule.

What gets scheduled gets done.

Be realistic. If you must be ‘in service’ from 11am to 3pm then mark that into your day and schedule everything else around it.

Having a plan doesn’t mean things won’t go wrong, or that plans won’t have to change. But if you don’t have a plan you are starting from behind the eight ball and (speaking from experience) it can be real* hard to get out.

*I am fully aware that to be grammatically correct, I should say ‘really hard’, however, if you’ve been there, or you are there right now… You know what I’m talking about. It’s REAL hard.  

Highlight tasks as they are completed

Highlight completed tasks as you go. The satisfaction of seeing how much you are accomplishing will fuel you on to the next task, and the next, and the next.

Making progress feels good doesn’t it? That’s how human beings are designed. We get a feel-good hit of dopamine when we cross something off and achieve a micro-goal. Yeah baby – make the most of that natural high.

Any tasks that have not been completed must be transferred to the next day.

Schedule for hijacked hours:

If you know that every day, 2 hours gets hijacked by others (your boss, your team members, your customers) your schedule should reflect 2 hijacked hours. There is no point filling your schedule for 8 hours a day when in reality you only have 6 because two hours will be hijacked. You will be setting yourself up to fall short, feel overwhelmed, be disappointed and ultimately, fail.

So I’ll say it again, schedule for hijacked hours!


Whatever tool you choose to manage your days with, whether it’s a VPTD Planner, a diary or an app, it will only succeed in helping you manage your time, if it is reliable and your brain trusts it. You need to use it every day, throughout the day. If you schedule a task and then don’t refer back to it for days, weeks or months your brain will not trust the resource.

Here’s the funny thing; time will stretch to accommodate what we choose to put into it.

Scheduling dates and times is essential to productivity. Understand that a to-do list without dates and times is basically a wish list. It will be never-ending, never completed and you will never feel a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment. Dates and times are critical.

What gets scheduled, gets done.

Repeat after me: what gets scheduled, gets done.

What doesn’t get scheduled, will always make way for the loudest, shiniest most urgent (not necessarily most important) diversions.

VPTD’s Daily Planner for Hospitality Leaders has been thoughtfully created and designed by hospitality leaders.

It’s filled with daily inspirations, management tips, timely reminders and food and drink celebration days – because you need to know when International Taco Day is! You’ll also find Mindful Hospitality practices and gratitude prompts to increase resilience and all-round happiness.

Click here to get your hands on a Daily Planner for Hospitality Leaders or to find out more.

If you are interested in attending a VPTD Time Management Training Session for Hospitality Leaders, register your interest here.

When I am diligent with my use of my Daily Planner, I find I can create anywhere up to an extra hour a day. What could you do with an extra hour a day? 


VPTD conducts Holistic Hospitality Training with a focus on developing the person, as well as the skills necessary, to excel in the hospitality industry. We believe engaging your team is the key to great service, staff retention, job fulfillment and profits.

For more information, or to discuss the training options available for your team click here or email or phone for a chat on +61 0410 793 491.

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