One of the commitments I urge all my clients to make is to keep a daily diary. This is the moment when all the annual, monthly and weekly habit plans come together into one clear set of daily actions.

Not having a diary is an act of self-sabotage – it’s like charging expenses on your credit card all month, not keeping tabs on your spending, never asking for receipts, and then complaining about how high your credit card bill is.

While many people have moved to electronic diaries in recent years, I’ve found lots of my clients are switching back to paper options. The old saying ‘don’t think it, ink it’ seems to be more important than ever. Personally, I don’t think it matters which approach you use as long as you are driving it, it is working for you and you are getting the results and sense of satisfaction you need to stay motivated.

At the start of each week, use your monthly planner and weekly habit map to complete your daily diary. Be sure to note:

  • Significant moments and milestones
  • Meetings for work, home or play (with time for travel if required)
  • Times for your habits
  • Key actions you need to take to help fulfil your hopes
  • Energy drainers you need to take care of

Be generous in your allocation of time so you’re not running from one activity to the next and driving yourself crazy.

Remember the 80:20 rule. Life moves constantly; a reasonable balance to aim for is knowing that you can probably control 80 per cent of your time, while 20 per cent of the time you’ll be thrown a curve ball. Leave space for the curve balls so they don’t send you into chaos and overwhelm you.

Four questions to guide your diary planning

  1. Will I feel that this was a day I lived well?
  2. Will this move me towards my purpose, vision, values and hopes?
  3. Have I made quality time for the people who are most important to me?
  4. What are the rewards and consequences?

(Extract taken from The Life Plan, by Shannah Kennedy. Head over to to order your copy or get in touch with Shannah here to find out about executive coaching options.)