The Top-Six Strategy for Daily Success

With all the conflicting organizational and productivity strategies on the market it can be hard to find a practical organizational solution that really works on a daily basis. I’ve tried Stephen Covey’s First Things First strategy of prioritizing tasks into quadrants of importance, as well as David Allen’s GTD strategy of next actions. I picked up Julie Morgenstern’s book, Time Management from the Inside Out and enjoyed her analyze, strategize, and attack solution.

But when I tried to setup a paper or electronic solution I found that most organizational systems just didn’t work for me. The Covey solution required too much time to figure out individual priorities, the next actions of David Allen were clunky in Outlook, and Julie’s Time Map solution was a little difficult to setup.

Yet each system had some really good points. So I took the best strategies from each solution and created a Top-Six Daily Planning Sheet. This printable daily planner sheet is quick to use and has places for all of your daily activities.

The Printable Daily Planner Includes..

1. The Top Six Daily Priority Boxes

2. Sidebar Boxes for Email, Phone Calls, Meetings, and Planning

3. A Step by Step To-Do list

4. A Place for Daily Goal Planning

5. A Place to Capture After Hour Activities

Here is how it works…


The way I use the sheet is to print a new one each morning. I then take a pen and write down my top priorities for the day. Sometimes I only have a few and sometimes I will fill in all six. Under each priority, I usually jot down a next-action.

As I open email and throughout the day, I’ll write down people that I need to email back in the email section. I do the same thing with voicemail and phone calls. I usually write down any meetings or appointments in the meeting box.

Once I have the basic information filled out, I’ll create a simple to do list. It’s real easy to do when you have your top priorities right in front of you. With the next actions listed, it’s easy to get started.

Strategies For Setting Priorities.

1. Ask yourself six things that you want/must to get done by the end of the day. Make sure they are truly important, not just urgent.
2. If you are a motivated type person, list your hardest task first. The rest of the day will just get easier.
3. If you find it hard to get going, list an easy task first. Do it first thing. This will get you moving and make it easy to check off your first box.
4. Check off your priorities as you complete them. This will motivate you to go on.
4. List your after work activities like exercise in the after hours box.

Download instructions:

The Top-Six Daily Planner is a free download. The zip file includes a MS publisher version that you can modify and a PDF version that you can use without any additional software.

Additional Information:

At the end of each day, store your printable daily planner sheet in a three ring notebook. As the days go by, this will create a daily journal of your activities that you can easily refer back to.

The books listed above have a myriad of good organization and planning ideas. Using this sheet along with these strategies will help you get more done and maybe even help you go home earlier. :-)


  1. says

    Hi John,
    I think I’m going to love this. It is similar to what I’ve also used, but you have added some limitations for me, which I like. I usually write too many things on the list and then I’m frustrated when I can’t get them all finished and have to transfer them to the next day.
    I printed 5 copies and I’m going to try it for a week.


  2. Leah says

    Not more than three hours ago, I was thinking that I needed to record five things to do each day that actually get done. Now I find this!

    I keep a "master" to do list, which is filled with what I want and need to do. What I didn't have was a way to pull out those things that really needed to get done today. I think your form will help a lot!

  3. says

    The value added for your site are your worksheets. Consider bundling them into small $5 productivity packages. Then use the #productivity #organize and #organizing hashtags on Twitter. In time, they will be a big hit.

    • says

      Vizionheiry, thank you so much for your ideas. I have a new system I want to try out that would work well in a productivity package. I'm going to do a test and see how they do. Thanks again!

  4. says

    Without a doubt the "trickiest" part of being self employed is time management. Next comes the "stickiest" which descibes all the post it notes all around me. Your sheet looks like a gem. I am going to try and us it and might even save a few trees as Guess above suggested!

  5. says

    I realize these approaches are a kind of mix of several existing organizational strategies, but I think you have something here in the combination. I think with some tweaking you could create a branded strategy of your own here based on your experience and share it with others desperately seeking better time management skills. I also wanted to thank you for sharing this post on BizSugar!

  6. Marta Vasquez says

    John, I have been using the daily priority sheet since last year. (when I discovered this website) It has been a true blessing. Gone are the days of Post-it notes. Every person that has seen it has loved it! It has spread at my employment like wild fire. Thanks for this beautifully created form that has transformed me from “what am I doing and when?” to “Miss Organized- Beyond- Belief”. I hardly recognized myself. Yes, it has changed my life that much!!!

  7. David says

    Love it! Right up my street! I wonder, can this be developed further to help you consider the top 30 priorities for the week? I like to consolidate ahead of a full week and then take daily tasks from there. Now I am using your template, my next step is to link this to the calendar, as quite often my time is everyone elses and not mine.

  8. says

    I just stumbled upon your website in doing an online search for the best paper planners. I’m a professional organizer and familiar with the 3 methods you mentioned in the first paragraph of this article, and I like how you’ve cherry picked from each and simplified it all on one sheet. I’m excited to share this with my clients. Thank you!

    • John Richardson says

      Thanks for the kind words, Teresa. I’ve experimented with the format over the years, but putting everything on one sheet and keeping it front and center through the day, has paid big dividends. As much as I like my electronic gadgets, good old pen and paper still have a place on my desk.

  9. Nina says

    Thanks a bunch! I was just sitting here and trying to find something I could effectively put into a plan of action. I feel this may be the solution.

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