“Wonderful. Productive. Smooth. Successful.”
This is how we want to be able to respond when someone asks us, “How was your day?”
With everything on our plate, those words often seem unrealistic.
But despite our waking hours being filled with a rush of activity that has the potential to send us into a state of chaos and overwhelm, the truth is we actually do have the tools to achieve a sense of satisfaction on a daily basis.
All it takes is the choice to be proactive, instead of reactive. This means asking yourself what you want to happen, considering what is likely to happen and incorporating a little mindful preparation ahead of each new day.
You can design your day in a way that gives you control of your tasks and responsibilities —and not the other way around.
Designing your day sets you up for success, boosts your productivity, and enables you to tick off your most important tasks.
It empowers you to start and end your day with purpose, be present in each moment, experience joy on a daily basis, and feel focused and connected.
It means you can take care of life admin, work responsibilities, personal commitments, and experience life — without having to sacrifice one for the other.
Today we’re sharing 10 steps you can take to successfully design your day.
WAKE UP WELL
What you do in the minutes after you open your eyes sets the tone for the rest of your day.
If you roll out of bed after hitting snooze a dozen times, only to skip breakfast and rush out the door into peak hour traffic, you’ll spend the next 12 hours in a blur of overwhelm and panic.
Alternatively, if you rise early but well-rested and ease yourself into the morning with mindfulness and appreciation for a new day, that sense of calm and control will permeate the rest of your waking hours.
What simple, but potent morning rituals can you implement to awaken your soul, cultivate joy and encourage the rest of your day to follow suit?
Maybe you could wake before the rest of the household and spend half an hour in quiet solitude?
Perhaps you could move your body and stir up some feel-good endorphins?
Or, try taking some time to prepare and enjoy a slow and nourishing breakfast?
However, you choose to do it, greet your day with purpose and love.
We’ve said it countless times and we’ll say it over and over again: what you focus on, you attract. What you acknowledge, expands. What you show appreciation for, grows.
So practice gratitude and remind yourself of at least three things in your life you are thankful for. Believe that there’s plenty more where that came from.
Give the Universe a little wink or a nod and say, “Thank you, I’ll have some more of that, please.”
HOW DO YOU WANT TO FEEL?
It’s about identifying your Core Desired Feelings in order to set goals with intention.
Danielle explains it like this:
“You’re not chasing the goal itself, you’re actually chasing a feeling…
“What if first, we got clear on how we actually wanted to feel in our life, and then we laid out our intentions? What if your most desired feelings consciously informed how you plan your day, your year, your career, your holidays — your life?”
So take a leaf out of this brilliant woman’s potent book and decide how you want to feel today.
Calm? Connected? Present? Clear? Confident?
Write it down.
And then align your actions and goals with those words.
TAKE INSPIRED ACTION
It’s easy to get lost in the humdrum of meeting all of those daily responsibilities, commitments and expectations and forget to look at the bigger picture.
But it’s important to spend at least a little time each day honoring the big bold dreams, goals and intentions you have set for yourself over time.
Review those goals and ask yourself:
“What step can I take today, however small, that will get me one step closer to achieving them?”
Decide what it is you can do.
Commit to doing it.
Schedule it into your day.
And do it. You’ll be one step closer than you were yesterday.
IDENTIFY WHAT’S IMPORTANT
This is where we really start to get into planning mode. Set aside a few minutes each morning and review your priorities for your day.
Ask yourself, “What is important to me, today?”
What are your top, achievable ‘must-dos’?
What are the things that, should you complete them, will leave you feeling satisfied and accomplished?
List three to five of your most urgent tasks and aim to cross these off before you do anything else.
Remember, there are probably one hundred things you’d like to achieve, but you can’t do it all.
Hone in the most important items and focus on those, for now.
SYNC YOUR CALENDAR
Check-in with your calendar and familiarise yourself with the time-sensitive aspects of your day.
Are all of these appointments and meetings crucial?
Are they all valid and worthy uses of your time?
How can you streamline your agenda to make it run as smoothly and effectively as possible?
SCHEDULE IN TIME FOR LIFE ADMIN
Bills need to be paid, invoices need to be sent, emails need to be checked and phone calls need to be returned. That’s just the way it is.
There are plenty of menial but necessary duties that need to be done each day, but the key is to not allow them to take up too much time or distract you from what’s really important. So set up a predetermined block of time dedicated to administration — whether it’s related to work or your personal life.
Don’t get sucked into intermittently checking emails. Instead, trying tending to your inbox just twice a day. Morning and afternoon.
During this time, which ones can you respond to immediately? Which ones can you delegate? Which can you delete straight away? Flag any others for follow up at a more suitable time.
FILL IN THE GAPS
If time permits and all of your important tasks have been tended to, what else would you like to achieve today? Make a list of anything else you’d ideally like to accomplish before the day is over.
Note that this isn’t about overdoing it, or trying to squeeze in so much that you get overwhelmed and stressed. But if there’s something you can do today — and do well — you won’t have to think about it tomorrow.
Inject a few simple pleasures into the tiny spaces between ticking off one thing and moving on to the next. You know that slice of time we often fill with mindless distractions like a quick scroll through social media, an unhealthy snack or a negative thought?
What can you do here that would be a better use of those fleeting seconds?
Here are some ideas:
Make yourself a cup of tea and savour each sip.
Send a heartfelt message to a loved one.
Repeat a positive affirmation.
Close your eyes and take 10, mindful breaths.
PREPARE FOR THE UNEXPECTED
It goes without saying: things happen that we don’t necessarily plan for.
Pressing problems that demand our attention at the drop of a hat. Colleagues, partners or children appear out of nowhere with an urgent, “I just need you to do this one thing,” or, “Can you help with this?”
Meetings run over time. Cars break down.
Tasks need more attention than planned.
So be prepared for a few unexpected twists and turns and be open to last-minute changes.
Create a little buffer in your day that allows you to be able to quickly adapt if things turn awry.
FINISH ON A HIGH NOTE
Just as we need to begin our day with purpose, ease and self-care, so too do we need to end it on a high note.
At the end of the day, when all of the ‘stuff’ is done, create space for an evening ritual that prioritizes one or all of the following:
* Quiet reflection.
* Slowing down.
* Switching off.
Leave your work at the office, disconnect from technology. Set aside your roles and responsibilities for the time being and allow your body and mind to recover from a busy day.
Let off some steam through exercise. Connect with a loved one. Eat a good meal. Take a long bath. Read a good book or listen to a stirring podcast.
Most importantly, take a few minutes for quiet reflection. Celebrate your achievements from the day. Acknowledge where you could do better next time. Let it go. Move on. Focus on tomorrow.
Sleep well, and look forward to another well-designed day.
Don’t forget to download our printable planner to help you design your day with intention. You can download your planner by entering your details at the top of this article