3 Tricks to Staying Focused On Daily Goals

Today's the day you finish that email and make that difficult call, right? And no matter what happens, you are getting to the gym -- that is a must! It's been a month since you worked out.

But before that, don't forget to make the orthodontist appointment and to confirm the sitter for Saturday night. Oops... the phone is ringing -- better get that. It's the school -- you forgot to give your son his lunch -- and "No ma'am, he can't just 'mooch off the other kids for once.'" So you better run over there -- but your brother has a quick question -- should text him back first. And so it goes.

What happened to the day?

Your son got his lunch. Your brother got his text. The sitter is confirmed and the orthodontist is on the books. But the email is left dwelling in draft mode, the call is pushed until tomorrow and the gym is still a distant memory.

And it's not like you took a nap and had lunch with a friend. No. You ate lunch over the sink and never took a shower. The shower would have happened but you kept thinking you were getting to the gym -- and why shower twice?

Now it's time to figure out dinner, help kids with homework and go to bed. Actually, fall into bed because you are exhausted. But what did you accomplish? You and I know that you accomplished numerous things. You gave it your all in every moment, but somehow it just isn't satisfying.

Feeling accomplished at the end of the day, has little to do with how much gets done, and everything to do with your expectations about what should get done.

If your expectations meet your results, you will feel accomplished -- otherwise, forget it. You might find a cure for cancer, but if you don't finish the report that has been on your list of to-do's for two weeks, it's going to bother you.

So how do you set expectations that are achievable in the time frame allotted and still be flexible enough to meet unexpected circumstances?

One approach is to create three categories for your "to-do's:" must, might and mystery.

The must list is just that -- things you are absolutely committed to doing. The might list consists of items that you will fit in if you have time. The mystery list is blank -- these are the things that will come up that you are not expecting. And every day -- you accomplish items on all three of these lists.

Let's take all that accomplishment and start feeling good about it!

Coach me quick tips for feeling accomplished at the end of the day:

1. Create your must list.

Only put things on this list that you are truly committed to doing. There may be days that you cannot truly commit to anything because there is too much up in the air, and you have to be completely flexible. This is where your might and mystery lists will come in. If you do add items to your must list, schedule time to make those must items happen. If you need some support in keeping your commitment, ask for help. For example, making a plan to meet a friend at the gym to workout -- is a great way to make sure it will happen.

2. Create your might list.

Resist the urge to add everything to this list. Think about each item you are adding here and whether it is realistic to expect you might get it done. For example, "finish the report," might be practical -- "find new job" probably won't happen. Break down those larger goals into small steps and just put one or two on the might list. For example: "contact three colleagues about potential job leads," or "revise resume."

3. Create your mystery list.

Add items as you move through your day. If you suddenly had to bake 24 cupcakes for your daughter's preschool party and you made that happen -- add it to the list. If your boss asked you to create a sales pitch for the new client and have it ready by tomorrow, jot that down. Your ability to be flexible and navigate the needs of colleagues, family and friends on the fly -- is amazing.

Review all three lists at the end of the day and pat yourself on the back. You deserve to win at this game feeling accomplished -- make sure you set the game up so that you have a fighting chance.