By Lori McNeill

How often do we go throughout our days without truly thinking about how we can create success that day? Many of us simply live our lives day-by-day, going through the motions, without really considering what we want to accomplish. It’s easy to do this, especially in a world that is moving nonstop. You may get to the end of the week, only to look back and think, “How is it Friday already?” with no clear idea of what you accomplished—or if you succeeded. It’s easy to get in the habit of being busy and not taking time to reflect.

Why is it that many of us simply shuffle through life? It’s almost as though we get into a routine and don’t consider that there’s any other way. I have a client whose calendar is absolutely packed with back-to-back meetings. He attends so many meetings that he has little time to manage his team, think strategically, or manage his own task list. Many busy professionals can relate. Often I hear leaders say they never have time to eat lunch or get any kind of break in their day.

Here are a few ways to break out of the “busy” habit, and give more thought and clarity to what you’re doing:

Set a definition for your day. In the morning, before your day starts, take a moment to define what success would look like by the end of the day. You could even write down a statement or two on a sticky note, and refer to it throughout the day. It is much easier to focus on creating success if you define it right up front. By the end of the day, you will either have a sense of accomplishment or you will already know what you need to focus on as a priority for the next day.

Set goals for meetings. At the beginning of each meeting you conduct, whether those meetings are 1:1 or with a group, set the stage for what success will look like at the end. Make sure that everyone in attendance understands what the goals are so that they can work with that in mind. I’ve seen it happen too many times during meetings, people just go through the motions, checking boxes—they meet, they review updates, they discuss issues but don’t determine the action items or next steps. In most meetings, there is no strategy discussion and things tend to become purely tactical. Consider allocating time upfront to determine what you want to accomplish during the meeting, then you can pivot to determine how to go about it.

Ask others how they define success. When you are given a task by someone else, whether it’s for a client, a manager, colleagues, etc., ask them how they would define success of the end product. If you don’t, you may be making some false assumptions. Consider that how you define success could be entirely different than their definition. Alignment is key. It’s also much easier to find out how they define success before you begin the work instead of waiting till you are done to find out that is not what they had in mind.

Try implementing these tips into your routine to achieve success on a daily basis.