Why Scheduling Your Day Might Not Work For You

Using your personality to be more naturally productive

Arlo Sanchez
5 min readMay 6, 2023
Photo by Remy_Loz on Unsplash

“If you don’t plan your day, you won’t be productive.”

When hearing this saying from productivity gurus online, I started getting uneasy.

And upon years of observation and reading up MBTI, I concluded that:

There are people who are more productive when they schedule their day to the minute, and there are people who are LESS productive when they do.

By planning your day, I mean every hour having a specific purpose.
8:00–8:30 morning routine
8:30–11:00 deep work
11:00–12:00 break

(and so on)

Here’s the thing: that’s not me.

After hundreds of iterations and self-reflection, I realized I’m quite the opposite.

When I plan my entire day, I end up more resistant to follow the plan. It feels as though I am restricted from exploring and improvising. Most days, I end up not following the plan altogether.

But at the same time, I have friends who cannot function unless they have a plan set in place so they can follow on auto-pilot.

The problem is when planners think they shouldn’t plan, and non-planners think they should excessively plan to be more productive. In reality, we should all follow our natural tendencies — whatever they are.

Which is why I will be clarifying these 2 types of people so you can identify which one you are, and build a system that maximizes your personality.

Let’s call these 2 types the visualizer and the retrospective thinker.

The Visualizer and the Retrospective Thinker

If you’re familiar with MBTI, there are the sensory and the intuitive types. And there are also the judging and planning types. I highly recommend you take the test first so the rest of the article will make sense for you. (16personalities.com)

If you have an intuitive and judging type (_N_J), then you’re most likely a visualizer.

If you have a sensory and judging type (_S_J), then you’re most likely a retrospective thinker.

If you’re neither, you’re more in the middle.

  • A visualizer focuses on the future, creates a plan and builds stages to achieve it.
  • A retrospective thinker focuses on the past, makes minor adjustments and builds checklists to maintain standards.
  • A visualizer focuses on an end goal, then reverse engineers milestones to achieve.
  • A retrospective thinker focuses on a past mistake or success, then try to repeat it and experiment to see if they can improve it.
  • A visualizer prefers to be a CEO
  • A retrospective thinker prefers to be a COO

It’s important to note that visualizers and retrospective thinkers aren’t exclusive. You can be both. And you can develop both visualizing and optimizing.

However, you naturally incline to one of the two. So instead of forcing yourself to do what isn’t naturally for you, lean into what works best, so you can be more effective and productive.

Planning Vs. Optimizing

This is why visualizers prefer planning, while retrospective thinkers, like myself, find it hard to stick to a plan.

I prefer to optimize the present based on the data I’ve accumulated in the past 19 years of my life. I’m constantly improving, but not to achieve a certain future outcome.

This doesn’t mean I don’t have future goals, it’s just that the idea of growing from my past self excites me more than achieving a non-existent potential target.

I get called a realist a lot (if you relate to this keep reading), so I tried to integrate future planning because that’s what I thought was more effective.

I’ve spent the last 6 months trying to be more future-oriented, and I can say I have a solid grasp of my vision for the future:

  • the person I want to become
  • my careers and family goals
  • my lifestyle

But, at my core, I realized I don’t have a specific future target that I want to achieve. I’m more concerned about being better today than I was yesterday.

While I’m decisive, I’m also willing to experiment with new ideas. This allows me to be creative and gather new data I can use to optimize my life.

While visualizing is sort of helpful, I’ve experienced more stress aligning myself to a specific goal than if I just focused on being consistent and being present. In fact, I wrote about how I ruined 3 months of my life by obsessing over a goal. You can read about that here.

Scheduling for Visualizers

But going back to scheduling your day.

If you’re a visualizer, start your day thinking about what specific outcomes you want to achieve by the end of the day, with the specific results you want (e.g. write 30 pages of essay, chest workout, 2 meetings).

After that, break those down into smaller actionable steps.

Then, get out your calendar and time block the needed activities.

Make sure you have a clock nearby so you can stay on schedule. This is important because sticking to the plan is what keeps you relaxed.

Optimizing for Retrospective Thinkers

For retrospective thinkers, the process will be similar but the approach would be different.

As a retrospective thinker, you’re focused on what worked in the past and making it better.

This means you don’t have to rely heavily on planning a future outcome.

You already know what needs to be done. You already did it yesterday.

So instead, take out your journal and do the following steps in the morning:

  1. Make a habit journal (these are the things you need to tick off everyday)
  2. Reflect: how can I improve by 1% today
  3. Make a to-do list with small actionable steps to gain momentum
  4. Schedule any ESSENTIAL events like meetings (things you can’t control)

In the afternoon:

  1. Review your habit journal
  2. Cross out the tasks you’ve already done
  3. Adjust your task list if needed

In the evening:

  1. Make sure all tasks are already done
  2. Reflect on the day: what went well, what went bad, how you can improve tomorrow

Then repeat.

I hope this article helped you find clarity in your productivity system. Let me know if you’re a visualizer or a retrospective thinker in the comments.

Notion Templates

If you’re a visualizer, I highly recommend Dan Koe’s power planner (click here)

If you’re a retrospective thinker, I made my OWN version that works perfectly for me. If you want to give it a try, you can download it on Gumroad for FREE.

Here’s the link: https://thearlosanchez.gumroad.com/l/dailyplanner

If you want to be more productive and discover yourself more, subscribe to my Weekly Newsletter where I talk about personal growth, self-discovery and authentic human nature so you can grow your personal brand on Twitter.