Last week, we took a look at how a proven method for setting goals can be applied as a strategy for daily planning—just by changing your lens to a day versus a year or a lifetime.
We encouraged you to envision how you’ll want your day to go, then identify the tasks that will get you there. Check in on your progress midday, and finally, reflect on your achievements. When you implement this strategy alongside the practice of writing things down, you’ll go about your day with more focus. This will lead you to accomplishing significantly more in your day!
Today, we want to walk you through a closer look at this, really honing in on the step-by-step process of a truly successful day—wrapping it all up with dedicated time to spend on yourself and those who matter most.
Whether you’re a working professional, full-time mom, or a diligent student, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and pulled in a million directions. At Day Designer, we’re here to inspire you to take back your day. We promise you can make this a reality for yourself if you set out to do it!
So here they are—the top ten essential ways to plan your most successful day:
Plan on waking up a little earlier each day. Even an extra 10-20 minutes will ensure you aren’t rushed or running late.
Establishing an earlier wake-up time might mean going to bed earlier the night before. It may mean setting an alarm if you haven’t been setting one, or not pressing that snooze button. It could mean breaking a habit of first looking at your emails, text, and social media.
Having this extra time will give your day a calmer beginning. Many early risers enjoy having time to read, meditate, pray, or exercise. Even just sitting down to enjoy that first cup of coffee or tea can get your day off to a great start.
To all the moms out there, not only will you appreciate the personal time, but your family will also sense and appreciate the new morning vibe you’re creating!
How do you want your day to go? Take a few minutes during your morning routine or on your drive to work to think about this. Consider where you want to be and how you want to feel at the end of the day. Do you want to be closer to a certain goal or is there something you need to prioritize higher?
Keep this vision at the forefront of your mind and set this as your intention for the day. Doing so will help center you and ensure you are running the day rather than the other way around.
Review your schedule, make adjustments where needed, and add in your errands and to-dos.
But, remember, we have to start being realistic about what we can accomplish in a day. You’re only setting yourself up for failure if you create a mile-long list every day. Keep your overall list of to dos somewhere separate—we refer to this as a brain dump. It’s extremely beneficial to have these tasks out of your head and on paper, and you can refer back to your big list on a daily or weekly basis. However, be realistic when you identify your tasks for the day!
As your outline your day, be sure to batch similar tasks in order to limit distractions and achieve efficiency. For example, have a set hour when you respond to email and another time when all emails and alerts are turned off. Have a particular day dedicated to appointments and errands, and so on!
While fitness-related goals and priorities are widely set, people often fail to put any sort of plan into action. The best way to achieve your exercise goals is to schedule your workouts. Just think: You wouldn’t miss a meeting that’s in your planner, right? You’re much more likely to follow through with a workout if you set aside the time for it. For added accountability, make a plan with a friend or sign up in advance for a class. And remember—progress is success! Just get moving.
Meal planning is also a great way to stay on track with your health goals. Stopping to think about what you’re going to eat interrupts your day, so make a note of your meals and snacks in your planner. And stay on top of your hydration, too!
Identify your top three. What three items would you not feel like the day was a success if they were not completed? If you have trouble identifying which tasks need to take priority, then imagine that you suddenly need to go out of town tomorrow. What are the three most important things to accomplish before you go?
You’ve heard the advice start with the hardest things first. We believe that progress begets progress. Check a few things off your list first thing to gain momentum for the rest of your day. Check in midday on your progress, and if you feel like you’re running short on time, focus on your top three and that’s it.
As the productive portion of your day comes to a close, don’t neglect looking ahead to tomorrow. Review tomorrow’s schedule, adjust as needed, list your to dos, and move over tasks from today that you couldn’t quite complete. This way you’ll be able to jump right in! Think through what you’ll need for each appointment. Whether you have your puppy’s vet appointment or an important team meeting on the horizon, think about what you’ll need and set those items aside—or, better yet, tuck them into your Day Designer.
Gratitude breeds joy. Being grateful each and every day will add more joy and positivity in your life. Think of at least one thing you’re thankful for, if not many more. This is also the ideal time to reflect on your day be proud of what you accomplished!
Being successful also means knowing when to stop. Knowing when to turn it all off. Knowing when it’s time to take care of you. It means committing to quality, undivided time with those who matter most—and knowing how to live in the moment.
Have dinner as a family, meet up with a friend, enjoy a glass of wine, take your dog for a walk, read to your children, or watch your favorite show. Then, wind down with a calming activity such a detoxifying bath or a book. Truly unplug and take this time to refresh yourself after a day you should be proud of!
Determine the best amount of sleep for you. Become consistent with an ideal bedtime which will help regulate your body’s internal clock. Make a commitment to avoid electronics thirty minutes before bed—keep your phone far from that convenient bedside table of yours.
Remember the importance of a good night of sleep. Without it, tomorrow will be off!
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These practical tips can be applied immediately to your own daily planning method. Start small! Add in one step per day, or even one step per week. To change your current routine in one of these ways may seem hard at first, but will feel easier as you repeat the effort day after day—and soon enough, it will become a habit. As you go through this process, notice how much more successful your day is when you follow this daily planning strategy—and, even more importantly, how you feel in terms of overall happiness and contentment.
Join us Friday as we show you examples of how to approach your day on paper. In the meantime, remember that deciding to make a change is your first step. If you’re ready to commit to planning a more successful tomorrow, share with us below! Which step will you work on first?