Back in January I wrote an article about writing down your goals for the year, and how writing down exactly what you want to accomplish is a great way to improve your year and help to create a better you by the end of the year. Hopefully you have something like that in place, as well as an accountability partner that can ask for updates to make sure you are actively working towards your goals. Today, I want to introduce a method of productivity that I suppose is somewhat similar: the idea of writing down your ideal day.
I’ve been implementing this strategy for a week now after hearing it on a podcast, and I have to admit it’s been very helpful for me. The idea is that at the beginning of your day, you simply write down what your ideal day looks like, complete with things you may want to do, people you want to reach out to, places you want to go, and other similar items. I like to split mine up into time periods and what I want to be doing during those time periods. Here’s an example of what an ideal Monday could look like for me.
7:00 am — write down ideal day
8:30 am — arrive at work with some solid energy
8:30 am to 12 pm — have a productive morning checking off items from work checklist
12 to 1 pm — if there’s time, write article on Daily Goals during lunch
1 to 5 pm — have a productive afternoon of work (2 meetings, follow up with [Employee] on Forecast file)
5:30 to 7 pm — crush a workout
7:30 to 8:15 pm — cook/eat dinner
8:15 to 9 pm — write Entertainment of the Week article
9 to 10 pm — watch and hopefully enjoy last night’s Walking Dead on DVR
10:15 pm — bed at a reasonable time
-Call mother to confirm airport pickup
-Invite friend to Thursday Night Football at Buffalo Wild Wings
-Text friend good luck on her test today
-strike up conversation with cute girl at gym if she’s there
-drink lots of water
Pretty simple. I have mine in a google doc that I update every morning.
Here’s why writing down your ideal day is an effective process. Before you even start accomplishing things, it puts you in a good mindset. If you keep your daily activities realistic (don’t put “win the lottery” on your list every day. Yes that would be ideal but it’s not going to happen), you can look at your list upon completion and be excited to have your ideal day. When I’m done writing down everything I look it over and am immediately hit with a bout of motivation and energy, eager to start making my ideal day a reality.
Now, try to make sure you look at this as an ideal day and not as set in stone goals that you need to accomplish. This is important! If you see it as the latter you will often be met with disappointment when the day doesn’t go as planned. You can still have a great day without it being the ideal day you wrote down at the beginning. This was my mistake for the first couple days, as I ended up being extra busy at work and wasn’t able to do a lot of the items I wanted to. Instead of focusing on the positive accomplishments I made at work, I focused on the negative of the things I didn’t get to. I realized I was treating it as a goals checklist instead of just putting down my ideal day.
One suggestion is to keep your items kind of generic and vague. This could be “have a refreshing conversation with a friend” or “try something new.” Those are two things that could happen organically and in a variety of different ways. Now some specifics won’t hurt if they are easily attainable. My “call mother” and “text friend” items above are something that there’s really no way I won’t complete, because they barely take time and are quite simple.
I know I’ve only been doing this for a week, but I can’t encourage it enough. With that in mind, try it out for one week! If you don’t feel that it helps then stop. Everyone is different, and there’s definitely no reason to continue doing something that as no value for you personally. I’m confident that you will find value though, and recommend that you give it a go. If nothing else, it truly does help you start your day in a mindset that initially guides you in the right direction.