If you fall into the latter camp, (no judgement!) you might find the day is over before it’s really begun. Important tasks and to-dos are side-lined, great ideas get shelved, and dreams and ambitions are forgotten. It’s easy for the day to go awry if you don’t know what you want to achieve.
But if you’re a daily planner, you’re more likely to regularly finish the day feeling accomplished. Every day you’ll take small aligned steps toward your goals and with each bit of progress, you’ll feel inspired to keep going. And the best bit? Anyone – and everyone! – can develop a daily planning habit that sets them up for success.
Just consult the science. Research consistently shows that setting regular goals improves performance, boosts productivity and can increase feelings of mindfulness and wellbeing. Ask Atomic Habits author and performance expert James Clear. He says, “You do not rise to the level of your goals, you fall to the level of your systems.”
In other words? Success is all about the plans you make and follow day in, day out.
Want to make each day count? Here’s how…
How To Plan Your Day The Head Plan Way
Review your big picture goals
“The days are long, but the years are short.” That’s a quote from American author Gretchen Rubin that reminds us that what you do today ultimately impacts what you’ll be doing a year from now.
When setting daily goals, remember to flick back to your weekly, long term, and short term goals to ensure the goals you set today are in alignment with your big picture of success.
It’s all a matter of getting from point A to point B. So ask yourself this: what can present me achieve today to secure the success of future me? Got your answer? Great – jot it down!
Imagine you have a crystal ball
Close your eyes for a sec and imagine you’ve just had the best day ever. What’s the one goal you feel most excited to have achieved?
You’ll know it when you feel it – it’s the goal that makes you feel accomplished, reassured, and like you’re on the right path to success. Once you have it sussed, pop it into the ‘main goal of the day’ section.
This goal will guide your actions throughout the day. Maybe a problem arises and you’re not sure which way to go or perhaps something comes up that requires your urgent attention.
Whatever it is, when your attention is pulled in different directions – which it almost inevitably will be – having a clear goal for the day allows you to narrow your focus and redirect your attention back to what’s important.
Figure out your top priorities
We live in a world with so many competing commitments, and when left unchecked, other people’s priorities, requests, and demands can steer us off track. To ensure your priorities remain front and centre, think about the top three things you want to achieve today.
What will steer you closer to your goals? What can you do right now to inch ever closer to success? It could be a deadline you need to meet, research to complete for the book you’re writing, or an email you need to reply to.
If it helps, scribble out everything you’d like to get done today into the ‘notes’ section first, and then select the most important three tasks from your list.
Scientifically speaking, you’re more likely to complete tasks when you commit to doing them at a certain time so, if you find it useful, create a rough schedule for each task too.
Goal attainment, coming right up!
Don’t forget self-care
Self-care isn’t selfish. Actually, it helps you flourish, and be the bright, bubbly, talented, and exceptional person you are - and giving to yourself allows you to give so much more to others.
Here’s our top tip: write a list of all the things that make you happy and all of the small tasks that you’ve been putting off. When you have a ready-made self-care plan it’s easier to make self care a part of your daily routine and – here’s the important bit - when you commit to ticking off those niggling to-dos you clear space for new energy to flow.
Self-care can be having a bubble bath, getting your nails done, or crawling into bed with a good book – it’s also ticking off life admin, decluttering your space, and preparing for tax season too.
So go ahead and schedule it in.
Plan a reward
We’re hardwired for rewards. During those moments of the day where tiredness gets the better of you, your motivation wanes, and you feel plagued by self-doubt, a reward can be the thing that inspires you to keep going.
Need more convincing? Countless studies have shown that tangible incentives improve goal commitment and performance and can be the thing that keeps you keepin’ on when your intrinsic motivation runs out.
Just like having a list of self-care actions can really help you implement it into your routine, having a list of daily rewards to hand can be a game-changer as well.
Recap the day
It’s easy to go from one day to the next without recognising your success and achievements but it’s time to turn that around. Inside The Head Plan, we provide a space to document what you’re most proud of achieving that day and to record the thing you feel most grateful for.
Recognising your achievements boosts your self-esteem and allows you to see how much you’ve progressed - and even on the really bad days, we’ll bet you’ve done something you can take pride in.
Meanwhile, Gratitude makes everything better. Finding even one thing to be grateful for increases your vibration, boosts optimism and deepens your connection to the present moment.
So, at the end of each day, combine pride and gratitude for the win. We’ll take one of each, please.
Do it on the daily
Repetition is the secret ingredient to success. It’s the steps you complete day in day out that create your reality. Setting goals for the day isn’t a one-time thing; it’s a regular habit that will transform your life.
Here’s the really great thing: All it takes is five or 10 minutes first thing in the morning or some focused attention before you go to bed at night to set the wheels of success in motion and make each day count.