My Daily Docket is my daily lifesaver

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by Tsh

Tsh is the founder of this blog and is currently traveling around the world with her husband and 3 kids. Her latest book is Notes From a Blue Bike, and believes a passport is one of the world's greatest textbooks.

Many of you have shared with me your positive experiences in regularly using the Daily Docket, and I’m so thankful for your encouraging feedback. For those of you who are newer readers — feel free to first download the Docket and see what you think.

There’s a lot of info on the internet about scheduling your day as a stay-at-home mom, and I’ve tried to apply a lot of these different tactics. They never worked for me. They were too rigid — a system would encourage me to write out a specific timetable for my day, and rotate weekly jobs set in stone on different days of the week. By writing this schedule out and hanging it visibly, I’d know what to do next.

It’s a great idea, but my life’s a lot more… unpredictable. When I tried to make Thursdays my Laundry Day, or One-On-One Time With My Daughter at 11 o’clock Monday through Friday, I was trapped.

I was trapped because life happened — one week I’d have an abnormally large amount of laundry, so by trying to do it all in one day, I set myself up for failure because I just couldn’t do it all. Time with my daughter would get pushed back because we really needed to run errands at 11 a.m., or she needed an earlier nap and 11 just wouldn’t do.

I wanted to throw any semblance of routine out the window. But I really didn’t want to do that, because a routine helps me. I love checking things off a list. I’m visual, so it helps to see my day’s plan.

What has evolved as my Daily Docket is a marriage of scheduled routine and flexibility.It provides the skeleton for me to hang my agenda, but it allows for wiggle room because I fill out a new sheet each day.

Instead of a set routine for Mondays, I fill out a fresh sheet for that very day, using a Weekly Checklist as my resource (also found on the downloads page). My week’s goal is to get everything done I need to do by that week, but I’m flexible as to when specifically I should do it..

Let me show you how this works.

The night before, I take one of these and fill it out for the next day. It helps if I fill it out in pencil because things are so unpredictable in our home that I have to be flexible.

The smaller categories on the page are as follows:

  • My MITs – The three most important things on my agenda today.
  • Current Scripture I’m working on memorizing/meditating over.
  • What’s for Dinner? – When I write it down, I remember way in advance what the dinner plans are, and what I need to do in advance for preparation, so I’m not scrambling at 5:45.
  • Health stuff – I’m trying to log my water and my food choices, so I like checking off that I’ve done that. And by writing down my work out plans, I’m more apt to do it.
  • Blog and/or Graphic Design stuff – To-do items for my blogs and my graphic design business.

The bigger items are my day’s to-do list and my day’s general plan.


Photo by Jessica F.

My to-do list:  it’s short.

I limit myself to 10 things, because I know I realistically can’t get more than that checked off. I’ve actually almost never gotten all 10 accomplished in one day. By keeping it short, I’m making success – finishing my list – more of a reality. If I remember additional things throughout the day, I jot them down in my notes section, possibly for tomorrow’s list. I like Jamie’s idea of sticking with six items.

My day’s general plan:  it’s general.

General is the key word here.  The Docket looks a lot more structured than it is, but I don’t write out every last thing I have to do that day. I only assign a time and slot to those things I want to get done at a time of day. I want to get computer work during my kid’s nap time, so I remind myself that it’s a 2 o’clock job. I want to get breakfast on the table by 8, so I make a note of that. And most importantly for me, I want to get to bed by 10:30. Seeing it on paper reminds me that it’s important.

Here’s an example of what a Daily Docket looks like filled out (click to enlarge it):

Application Time

Feel free to download this Daily Docket (or the smaller one) for free. But you don’t have to use this — use what works for you. The point is to have a plan for your day, and to approach it proactively.

Whatever you use, keep it simple, easy-to-read, very easily accessible throughout your day, and thorough enough to manage your whole day on one sheet.

What do you use to get you focused on the day? If you use the Docket, do you have any suggestions or feedback? I know several of you have asked for an even smaller one than the Pocket Docket… I might get to that. Someday.

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Comments

  1. avatar
    Mrs. Legends says:

    I’ve been reading this blog for about six months now, and I’m currently pregnant (our first). I want to thank you for all of the tips and great tools you offer. Simplemom.net and simplemarriage.net are definitely helping me shape myself into the wife and soon-to-be mother that I want to be.

  2. My suggestion is get it laminated. It’s cheap to do and saves paper! I had 4 sheets laminated and just use a overheard marker (vis-a-vis) which wipes clean with water when I’m done. Having more than one sheet lets me look back at yesterday’s sheet to see what I didn’t get done so I can move it over to today’s.

    Otherwise I love the daily docket and just need to stick with it ;-) I want to know where you keep your daily docket? My desk where I usually keep it in view is tiny and it takes up space, do you have a special place you keep it in view? Hang it on a bulletin board?

    • Leah,
      I like the idea of laminating several copies of the Daily Dockets. You could either use a binder clip, or hole puncher and what I call a binder ring (I’m not sure what they are really called) to bind it all together. Either way, you could hang the laminates up in plain view.

      • A magnetic sticker strip on the back would work great too, that way it could be posted on the refrigerator!
        Thank you for all the free downloads Simple Moms :)

  3. did you read my mind? I was just thinking about this problem. A rigid schedule doesn’t work (company is coming so the floors MUST get done today and the laundry will have to wait…) but otherwise I feel like I am floating all day without ANY structure. I am anxious to try this.

  4. Like Theresa said above, rigid schedules just don’t work for me either, but I’m becoming frustrated by having no plan at all.

    Your Daily Docket looks really helpful. Thanks for sharing it with us.

  5. Thanks for sharing this ~ I’m going to give it a try! :)

    Please come and have a look at my blog ~ I’m running a Help Haiti Appeal and every person can help a little:)

    http://frdknitwear.blogspot.com/
    .-= Amanda´s last blog ..Roast Beef and Gravy (microwave version) =-.

  6. I know I’ve read about your Daily Docket system before, but thank you for this little nudge — I just printed it out and we’ll see how it goes. I was just last night thinking about this (as I was reading Steady Days), that I owe it to my family and to myself to be more organized. And I simply cannot keep all this stuff in my head — I’m too old and my brain is too leaky. :)
    .-= Laura´s last blog ..Seeds, Seeds, and More Seeds =-.

  7. I love this idea. I’m a designer and visual person as well, so lists work great for me. Keeps me on track! I was just brainstorming on a similar form to make but a little more customized for life in general. I wish I was organized enough to stick to my daily lists, but realistically I don’t. I sure try though. I like this idea of only putting 6-10 things on your to-do list. Good idea:-)
    .-= Amy @ Living Locurto´s last blog ..New free Valentines =-.

  8. Love this idea! And what would make it even better would be if you sold it as a dry erase board :) The i wouldn’t feel like i was wasting paper.

  9. I love the Daily Docket. I use it (almost everyday). It helps keep me on track. If I don’t check things off, I put a forward arrow next to it so it shows that I need to push it to the to do list for the next day. I used to use Franklin Covey, but this works really well.

    Have a great weekend.
    .-= Mommy2Twinkies´s last blog ..If you’ve got nothing else… resort to cute toddler art. =-.

  10. I have been using your Daily Docket printout for over a year and I love it! I print out 5 copies every Monday morning and plan my week. Thank you so much for sharing it!
    .-= Vicki Haley´s last blog ..Loving the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly =-.

  11. I’m new to your blog and I’m really enjoying it. Thank you for the free downloads. I’m looking forward to trying your daily docket. I’ve tried other things in the past but they have been to structured for lives surprises. I like how yours is flexible but still keeps you on track. Thanks again!
    .-= Monica´s last blog ..Food! =-.

  12. I really like your daily docket here, it works well for getting through my day. I hate printing things off so much though, so I’ve copied your plan onto a dry erase board and hang it on my wall. Less paper waste! There are also dry erase sleeves that pages can slide into.
    .-= Summer´s last blog ..This Is Why I Should Be A Hermit =-.

  13. Now I need to put “Pull printer out of closet” on my to-do list so that I can print the docket!

    Someday, when you have time, you should make this an electronic document for us “paperless” folks. Someday.

    Thanks, Tsh!
    .-= amandaginn´s last blog ..Right now. =-.

  14. I feel the same way about rigid schedules, I get frustrated when I fall behind. I’m going to try this method instead. Thank you!

  15. Thanks, this is great, this is basically what I do everyday in a notebook, but now I think I’m going to print it off, laminate it, and keep it on my fridge next to my master calender. I’m so glad I stopped by your page today!

  16. I love this. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the concept of the Too Big To Do List. I think mine can sometimes make me feel worse at the end of the day, when it’s supposed to make me feel better.

    I love your Daily Docket Idea.
    .-= Meredith from Penelope Loves Lists´s last blog ..Get ready for tax time: I wish this were fun =-.

  17. I like this idea! I do a Daily clipboard: http://homegrownmom.com/domestically-challenged/my-daily-clipboard/420

    I’ve tried to get it all onto one sheet before and I can’t seem to keep it that way. But I have done similar things. I especially love your MIT’s! When I do keep the one sheet, I list my top 6 priorities, starting with God, my hubby, and kids down one side as a reminder. I was thinking of posting the sheet I made, but yours is way cooler! I’m sure I’ll be linking to it soon :)
    .-= Angela @Homegrown Mom´s last blog ..Homegrown Grandma =-.

  18. Just started using the Daily Docket and LOVE IT! It’s such a satisfying feeling to be able to check things off. It makes you feel more purposeful through your day. Such a great tool!
    Thank you thank you thank you.
    .-= April´s last blog ..Young Love =-.

  19. Thank you for this post. Every year I feel like I try another “schedule” system and a week into it feel like a failure cause I can’t follow it perfectly. Life happens and kids are unpredictable! Thank you for sharing your wisdom w/ us. Can’t wait to read more!

  20. I really like the daily docket. I printed off the small one and used it for a week or so. But I don’t like wasting printer ink. So after a week of using it I found I pretty much had the format down and I write it in a spiral notebook. I do the “brain dump” you had posted about in the past,on the back of the previous days daily docket, then make up my docket based on that. I try to do it each morning and then pray through it before I start my day.

    It has helped a lot

  21. LOVE this idea. Thank you so much for sharing. I tend to rebel or feel like a bit fat failure with too much structure, but without any structure I’m aimless! :) I think this is perfect for me!!
    .-= Kristi_runwatch´s last blog ..Are you ready for a fresh start in your parenting? =-.

  22. I’m very excited to give this a try. It’s definitely much more up my the lines of my life style with our busy life. Can’t wait to give it a try this week! I’m new to your blog and I LOVE IT! It’s exactly what I need to keep me motivated, knowing I’m not alone!

  23. Thank you for this awesome resource…if there is anything that makes me crazy on a daily basis is a lack of control over the day and priorities! It so easy to slip up if you are not prepared! I will download this tool and use it to organize myself…will keep you posted Tsh!
    .-= The Pursuit of Mommyness´s last blog ..The Pregnancy Sign Mind Game: Saturday Confessional Part 1 =-.

  24. I really liked the idea of the daily docket, and was wishing there was an iPhone app for it. :) I recently discovered Bento 3, and realized that you can make a Daily Docket using the various spreadsheet tools. It works really well! This way, you can either print it out, use the electronic copy on your computer, or, with the Bento3 app for iPhone/iPod touch, you can carry it around with you that way! I still think a Daily Docket iPhone app would be a very good idea, though. :)

  25. I’m also one who hates wasting paper, but I like making it look nice. I bought a cheap certificate frame at target for $5 and put the daily docket in there. Then I just use a dry erase marker to write on it and erase it every day. Works for me!

  26. avatar
    christina says:

    perfect timing on this post. I have printed this list off many times but could not find my download so I was going to search your site for it. Thanks for the repost because it was right there.

    I love this list.

  27. I LOVE this!!! Thank you so much. I cannot wait to share these ideas with my moms’ group on Wednesday. Keep these good posts comin’!

  28. Thank you for this.

  29. My Husband and I are moving into our own home next week (after housesitting since getting married 10 months ago). I am looking forward to developing a flexible schedule which still allows me to accomplish goals throughout the day.

    In the past I have used Google To-do lists to outline my monthly/weekly tasks which I then cross off once they are completed. At the end of every month/week I then mark then as uncompleted and start again. I look forward to incorporating your daily docket so I can transfer one weekly and one monthly task to accomplish each day :-)

    I love reading your posts thank you for taking the time to write such a great blog.

  30. I am fairly new to your blog, but I absolutely LOVE reading your tips and ideas to simplify and organize life. I am a working mother, and it is such a struggle for me to find new ways to further simplify. Thank you for writing, and I look forward to following your blog!

  31. My daily docket is – literally – the back of an envelope! I save our used envelopes and grab one each morning (or sometimes start one the night before), writing a bullet point list of the day’s ‘to do’s. The important thing is, I update it constantly during the day, crossing off completed items (which gives me a ridiculous amount of satisfaction) and adding new ones as they come to mind. The latter is a lifesaver for me, as I nail down new ideas down on paper – the envelope list – before I get distracted and forget them again. On the reverse side of the envelope I jot down what I’m planning to feed my toddler for her lunch and dinner. This is a good prompt for any foods I may need to defrost, and also, when I come racing into the house after a trip out, with a hungry child in tow, I can glance at my docket and remind myself what I had planned for her next meal – rather than dredge it all up again from the back of my mind.
    .-= Kate´s last blog ..Upon the loss of a child =-.

  32. This is great! I have used a Franklin Covey planner for years, but can never stick with it because as my life has changed (added children, changed jobs, etc.) the way it is to be used has changed a lot! Too much effort to keep updating it :-(

    I like this layout and it seems like it would actually fit. It seems to encompass the pieces of my life, but doesn’t seem to look too overwhelming! Thanks! I can’t wait to try this!

  33. If it means anything, count me in on asking for the Daily Docket in iPhone app form. Until that wonderful day, I guess I’ll carry it around in my pocket, all folded up, next to my iPhone…

  34. You are so interesting! I don’t believe I’ve read through anything like that
    before. So nice to find somebody with some original
    thoughts on this subject matter. Really.. thanks
    for starting this up. This web site is something that’s nweded on the
    web, sokmeone with a bit of originality!

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