This post was inspired by a comment I got on an earlier post (thanks Ryan M.) asking what I did to plan the day ahead. I have gotten more into planning as my life has gotten more hectic and crowded. But I’m not a great planner nor do I really strive to be. When I was in the engineering profession the most difficult part of my job wasn’t the work but the predictability, so nowadays I try to keep things as open as possible, while still getting stuff done. In that 5am hour (when I get it) or if not when I first sit down to work but before I’ve started anything else, out comes my notebook. In it I write down the 5 things that I will be super happy and satisfied with my day if I can get done. Sometimes they are work related, in fact mostly, but other times they are things to do with friends & family, running the household, or even something health related. It’s definitely not a to-do list, because I noticed early on that if I overfill it, I get overwhelmed, so I try to max it out at 5 things, and if I can have a super productive day by getting 3 things done, then that’s all I write down, because those might be 3 big things. I have this weekday practice for a couple of reasons – 1) clarity and 2) focus. Instead of thinking over and over again about stuff I need to do or remember, I have confidence I’ve identified what’s important and it allows my mental alarms and reminders to shut off for awhile. The second thing is focus. I’m someone that works from home. I have right now in front of me my computer, my iPhone, and my iPad. Each programmed to get my attention for appointments, emails, texts, and calls. Talk about distraction, and that doesn’t even take into account my ability to get lost on a google search tangent or in the social media universe. Not to mention the real people, work crisis, appointments, and endless errands that also require taking care of. So not only does the list give me clarity on what the key items of the day are, it also keeps me focused on getting them done, then it leaves a lot of freedom in there for me to still feel creative and able to handle the myriad of things that will come up during that day and everyday.

This is just one little practice that I’ve found is easy enough to do consistently and that helps me. I would love to hear what practices you have that help you stay clear and focused?