How to Start a Daily Planning Routine

If you’re going to be a regular reader of the articles here at Millennial Success, you’re going to need a daily planning routine.

You probably already know how important planning is–self-direction, focus, consistency, accountability, results–so I’ll spare you any stories or explanations of why you need one. But you’ll definitely need one to make use of the action steps from this site.

And like I said in the subscriber email…If you’re not reading this site to improve your life with the action steps we share, please unsubscribe! We’re here to help the serious self-improvers only.

For those of you who are serious about self improvement and making the most of this site, here’s how to get started with your own daily planner:

1-You have to purchase a planner

I recommend a blank-paged, hard-backed sketchbook small enough to carry wherever you go. Six by eight is perfect. You can also purchase the Y-Planner, which comes prebuilt with recurring daily goals (exercise, meditation, limiting emails, etc.) and checkboxes for your top eight goals.

2-Pick a designated time each morning (or evening) to plan your day ahead. 

Having a planner won’t do you any good unless you use it. So carve out five to ten minutes each morning for figuring out your top 5-8 goals and daily habits based on your weekly and monthly goals. (More on those ahead.) Commit to this time for one month solid.

It’s ideal to include your planning session at the end of your morning routine–gratitude, exercise, etc.–so that you’re mentally prepared to leap headfirst into your goals. But you can also choose to plan the day ahead the night before, after you’ve journaled and gotten new insight on what you need to accomplish for a better tomorrow. Pick what works best for you.

3-Schedule five planning reminders in your phone

Again, it’s one thing to have a planner, and it’s one thing to have goals, but you have to refer to your goals consistently throughout the day to be reminded of them and to complete them. So, until you engrain the habit of continuously referring to your planner for guidance throughout the day, you need to set reminders in your phone to check in with your planner. Five planning reminders from 9-5 works well for all of my clients.

4-Define your long-term goals

Once you purchase a planner, you have to define your long-term goals. You can use the simple template I share with my clients below:

Career: What educational steps do I need to take? What skills do I need to acquire? Do I want to transition into another field? Who do I need to connect with? What would I really love to do, but have been too scared to try? How could I make my current work environment more productive, relaxed, and enjoyable?

Spiritual: Where do you want to be in one year? How will you get there? Do you want to spend more time praying, studying the Bible, or going to church? Do you want to attend spiritual meetings?

Fitness/Health: What routines will you stick with for the next year that will make you incredibly fit and healthy? What is your ideal picture of health?

Self Love/Self Improvement: What trips, classes, and adventures do I want to go on this year? What do I really love and want to do more of? What do I need to do more of to be happy? What would I regret not trying, or sticking with? Which fun/enjoyable things can I do regularly each week? Which bigger things would I love to do a couple times a month? And which ones could a plan only a couple times per year?

How many books will I read this year? What successful habits am I committed to for this year?

Giving: What social/environmental/spiritual causes do I want to support? Where do I want to volunteer? How can I best help my family and friends? How often will I give? How much will I give? 

Low-value habitsWhich low value habits am I committed to eliminating entirely? Which will I strictly limit throughout the day? For most people, these are social media, texting, email, tv, and hanging around toxic people. Some of these can be foregone—like social media. Others should be limited as much as possible—like texts and emails.

Procrastinations: Write down a list of the biggest procrastinations that are making you feel paralyzed. Most people should have at least twenty. Make these procrastinations a priority for your first month of goal setting!

5-Create monthly goals

After you’ve gained clarity on your long-term goals, you’re going to create a monthly planning page in your journal. (Set a recurring reminder in your phone to do this once every month on a Saturday or Sunday, now*.) Break the page into quadrants. Then slash a line one and a half inches from the bottom. Top left is daily recurring goals—things you’ll stick with every day. Below that is career goals. Top right is self love/fun goals. Below that is health and fitness goals. And the very bottom row will be giving goals.

Refer to your longterm goals from above to make relevant and actionable goals for this month. Fill up each box with enough challenges to take up a month. Make sure that your monthly goals are coming from your long-term goals!

6-Establish your weekly goals

Once a week on Sunday, use the same format as above to determine your weekly goals. Refer to this page every morning when you come up with your daily goals. You can use the picture from the Y-Planner below for reference. Create a recurring reminder in your phone (right now!*) to spend twenty minutes planning out your week every Saturday or Sunday afternoon.

*If you wait, you won’t do it. And if you’re not going to use the action steps in this site…why are you still here?


7-Then actually spend five to ten minutes each morning planning out your day

At the end of your morning routine—and before you check any email or messages—spend five to ten minutes planning out the details of your day. You’ll need to have your weekly planner handy for this: that way you can pick from the goals that you’ve already identified as important to your career, health, fitness, and purpose.

Use the template from the Y-Planner below in your own blank journal so that you have your basic habits lined up alongside the goals you come up with from your weekly plan.




Once you commit to this daily planning routine for a month, you’ll be a completely different person. You’ll be organized, focused, and disciplined. You’ll be tenfold more accomplished than you were, and you’ll be consistent. You’ll even start to feel more intelligent. Because once you start using your planner to make concrete action steps for the insights you gain from reading and reflecting, you’ll make consistently smarter and smarter decisions! And it’ll be out of habit.

So start a good habit today. And if you’ve already used a planner but haven’t been consistent, make this your year of consistent daily planning. Last thing: if you want to make this process a ton easier on yourself, purchase the Y-Planner here, prebuilt with the daily, weekly, and monthly templates you need to succeed.

Written by Daniel Dowling
Hi! I'm Dan, founder of Millennial Success. When I'm not getting six-packed--that's "hit in the face" in beach volleyball--or reading Jane Austen's novels for the fifth time, I'm helping people make every day a breakthrough as a writer and coach.