Deciding to make a change and get more organized is just the first step of a potentially life-changing journey. What would you do with the extra time each day that you gained by being more organized?

Hopefully, you would choose to keep the system going by devoting five minutes each morning to planning out your daily schedule. Should complicated? It doesn’t have to be. In fact, it may take you more time to read this article than it would to set your day up for time-management success.

Five minute planning whirlwind

It may seem as though five minutes is not enough time to put a dent in your daily chores, but it is actually more than enough. You can do it while eating a bowl of cereal for breakfast or drinking a cup of coffee. Let’s break it down into smaller intervals to make the process simpler:

0 seconds to 30 seconds

Take a look at your master list of all things that need to get done. Choose what needs to happen today, and don’t forget to make plans based on what happened yesterday. Leave big chunks of time for accomplishing specific tasks, sort of like setting a deadline for yourself. Don’t give yourself too many chores, or you will get discouraged if you don’t get them all done.

30 seconds to 60 seconds

Look at your notes from yesterday to see what actions must be taken as a result of yesterday’s occurrences. Make a list of follow up meetings you need to schedule. Did you take any urgent phone calls near the end of the business day yesterday that will require immediate action this morning?

60 seconds to 90 seconds

Look at what you crossed off yesterday. Did you get into an amazing groove yesterday that allowed you to get a lot of work done in a short amount of time? If so, find opportunities to repeat your success today. Winning these small battles will keep you motivated to get things accomplished in the future.

90 seconds to 3 minutes

Create today’s list of action items. Be realistic about what you can finish, and use specific words for what needs to be done. For example, start sentences with action words such as “call,” “schedule,” “research” or “outline.” Make the list as short as possible. If you get more done than planned, so much the better!

3 minutes to 4 minutes

Take the list you just made and prioritize it. Put the things that absolutely must get done at the top, but be sure to leave time for other tasks as well. For instance, finishing a report at work might lead the list, but paying bills should be on there, too.

4 minutes to 5 minutes

Categorize the priorities by letter or numbers. A’s or 1’s are the items that absolutely must get done today. B’s or 2’s are important things that should get done today. C’s or 3’s would be nice to finish today but could hold another day if necessary.

Finally, put “plan my day” on the list. Then cross it off. See how nice that feels? Imagine how great it will be to do that for all of the line items.

If you consistently take five minutes in the morning to plan the coming day, you will eventually get into the habit. They say it takes three weeks to create a habit, so try to keep your organizational efforts on track for at least that long.

Perhaps you will start to see a change in your level of productivity each day. That fact alone might be enough to keep you devoted to your five-minute morning regimen for the long term.