Aligning your daily routine with your long-term goals - verbal to visual - doug neill - sketchnoting, visual note-taking, graphic recording

Aligning Your Daily Routine With Your Long-Term Goals

As a follow-up to last week’s video on sketching out a lifelong business plan, this week we’re going to zoom in and look at a single day.

By paying attention to the actions that you take on a daily basis you’ll be able to ensure that those actions are in alignment with your priorities and long-term goals.

I’ll be sharing the latest iteration of my own daily routine with the hope that it might encourage you to sketch out what your day looks like. When you make your day visual in this way you’ll be able to see whether or not you’ve set aside a time and a place for the activities that are most important to you.

The Morning Routine

Aligning your daily routine with your long-term goals - verbal to visual - doug neill - sketchnoting, visual note-taking, graphic recording

How you choose to start your day sets the tone for the rest of it, so make sure you’re intentional about how you spend your first few hours.

I’ve come to enjoy starting my day at a coffee shop, just a few minutes walk from my home. There I eat breakfast and drink a few cups of coffee as I slowly wake up by first reading some fiction, then some non-fiction, and then writing my morning pages (stream of conscious journaling). That sequence is enjoyable and therefore something that I look forward to – a routine that helps me get out of bed when snooze button appeal is at its highest.

I follow up my trip to the coffee shop with some exercise, alternating days between a run and a 7-minute workout (here’s the app I use).

What I like about this morning routine is that I tackle habits (reading and exercise) that are important to me but that also might get overlooked if I leave them for later in the day. I work out my mind, and then my body, all by 10:00am. That builds up a good amount of momentum that propels me into the next part of my day.

Let’s Get To Work

Aligning your daily routine with your long-term goals - verbal to visual - doug neill - sketchnoting, visual note-taking, graphic recording

After my morning routine I head to work at an office that I rent within Wayfinding Academy, a new alternative two-year college here in Portland, Oregon (I’m not a staff member but I am a huge supporter of what they’re up to!).

Within the 8-hour chunk of time from 10:00am to 6:00pm I focus on Verbal To Visual – developing new video episodes and blog posts like what you’re reading now, building courses and other educational materials, and connecting with the global Verbal To Visual Community.

For the first time ever, my office space is separate from my living space. That separation makes is so much easier to switch gears from my morning routine into work mode, and then from work mode into the rest of my evening.

Social Time

Aligning your daily routine with your long-term goals - verbal to visual - doug neill - sketchnoting, visual note-taking, graphic recording

In the past I haven’t been great at setting evenings aside for something other than work. I used to push myself as hard as I could and work as late as could almost every day. That was unsustainable, and I’m much happier with my new routine of leaving the office at 6:00pm and not doing any more work until the next day.

I set aside those evening hours for free time or to socialize. By giving myself those breaks in the evening I create the space not only to have a fuller life (friends matter!) but also recoup the energy that I spent during those work hours so that I can get back to it the next day.

Sleep (Lots Of It)

Aligning your daily routine with your long-term goals - verbal to visual - doug neill - sketchnoting, visual note-taking, graphic recording

I then end my day the activity that has the biggest role in a happy and productive tomorrow: a solid eight hours of sleep.

I’ve seen the consequences of “burning the midnight oil” enough times to know that whatever benefits come from that push are outweighed by the detrimental effects (mental and physical) on the days that follow it.

So I’ve chosen to make sleep a priority, and I’ve already seen the positive impact that has had on all aspects of my life.

Within the big picture of my daily routine I have created the time and the space for all of the things that are important to me, and nothing that isn’t. I’m happy with that picture, and I’m excited to see what comes out of it over the next year.

Your Turn

Now it’s your turn to give this activity a try. Create a flowchart of your day as a way to check whether or not you have a time and a place set aside for the activities that are most important to you.

Since your commitments and priorities are no doubt different than mine, your daily flowchart will reflect that. And keep in mind that your days will change as your go through different phases of life. I doubt that mine will look the same one year from now, but I’m happy with where it is at the moment, and I hope you can create a day that you’re happy with as well.

Good luck!

-Doug

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Want To Dig Deeper?

If you’re new to the idea of sketchnoting and excited to develop more visual thinking tools, I think you’d enjoy our foundational course An Introduction To Visual Note-Taking.

If you’d like to make sketchnoted videos like the one you saw here, we’ve got a course for that too! Check out How To Make Sketchnote Videos.

And if you’re an educator interested in bringing visual note-taking into your classroom, check out Sketchnoting In The Classroom.