You just need 5 minutes, before you start your work day
You can call it journaling, you can call it planning, you can call it anything you want. The reality is if you can take about 5–7 minutes to write down these four items before you jump into your work day, you’ll be better prepared for anything that comes your way.
This doesn’t have to be part of some hustle-culture 5 a.m.–club mega-morning workout. It really only takes a few minutes, and there aren’t any set rules.
Just try to do it by hand, writing with a pencil or pen on paper, instead of typing it out on a device. Connecting your brain and body through writing by hand is centering and grounding, and can help you start your day from a more calm, focused, and aware state of mind.
1. Your main goal of the day
This is your most important thing of the entire day. It could be as practical as a work project, as abstract as a mindset or attitude to maintain, or something in between.
Maybe on Tuesday, your main goal is: Finish Project Elephant and let the boss know it’s complete. But on Thursday, when you have to start gathering info to start writing your annual self-review, the most important thing might be: Stay focused and aim high.
2. One thing you’re grateful for today
Like all of life, the things we’re grateful for on any given day fluctuate. Some days, the world feels alive and abundant with blessings. You wake up feeling energized and ready to tackle anything. On those days, you could write a whole book about things you’re grateful for.
On other days, stress can hit differently. The morning headlines are awful, your coffee is weak, and you’re nervous about an upcoming conversation at work.
On those mornings in particular, it’s important to find something to be grateful for. Gratitude can shift your entire perspective, and often has a ripple effect where once you’ve named one thing you’re grateful for, dozens of others spring to mind.
It could be you’re grateful for a roof over your head, or for a body that’s your very own, or for the simple acknowledgment of your pencil scratching across the paper. Maybe you’re grateful for oxygen, or stars, or having had a glass of water. Sometimes it takes an extra minute, but you will find one thing every day, I promise.
3. One thing you’re looking forward to today
This one can be quite a bit harder, especially if the coffee hasn’t quite kicked in yet. On my more energetic mornings, I like to think of this one as Something I’m excited about. That thing could be a big team meeting, a call with a friend after work, or a new book I started the previous night that I can’t wait to get back to.
Sometimes it’s just looking forward to the day being over so you can crawl back into bed.
Like everything else, this one will fluctuate, but if you sit with it for a moment, there will be something you can find to look forward to every day. Remember, there aren’t any rules, so if that thing you’re looking forward to is returning to bed, then that’s your thing.
(It can also help you to recognize if it’s your thing every day. If you realize you want to return to bed every single day, you might consider finding ways to reach out to someone who can help.)
4. Your affirmation of the day
Here’s where some of you might feel a little awkward. That’s ok! This is just for you, and nobody else has to see it or ever even know. But affirmations really can help shift your state of mind and can help you adjust your perspective when you’re feeling stuck.
This doesn’t have to be anything fancy or overwrought. When you’re writing affirmations, write them in the present tense, from a first-person perspective: I am calm and centered today, not Andrea will be calm and centered today.
If you’ve never written affirmations before, think about how you would like to be in the world if you were your best self. What would that person be like, how would they act, what would they do? Then write as if you already have those qualities.
I am strong and beautiful.
I go with the flow.
I’m smiling, happy, and bring joy everywhere I go.
I’m smart and I make excellent decisions.
Write them any way you like, in words that speak to you in your own voice. I can’t tell you what qualities you’d like to embody—only you can tell yourself.
Have some fun with it and see if you can bring some awareness to what it’s like. Trying on new attributes can help you learn more about your true self.