In this episode, Ann dives deep into journaling, an excellent tool for setting priorities in the morning and reflecting at night to celebrate what you have accomplished for the day. For many years now, Ann has been using The High Performance Planner by Brendon Burchard, and she’ll share how it has helped her dial in her life vision into annual, quarterly, monthly, weekly and daily tasks.

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If you are feeling overwhelmed by your task list, try out these journaling tips from Ann! Learn how she does it, what she writes in her journal, and how journaling can help you plan and organize everything to ensure that you are not wasting time doing things that will not help you achieve your life goals. Listen now!

Key Points From This Episode:

  • Examples of prompts from The High Performance journal in the quarterly, monthly, weekly and daily stages.
  • Ann shares her theme and focus for January.
  • How does Ann prepare to show up and win this month? What is her mindset?
  • What does Ann put in her weekly entries?
  • How does Ann do her daily journaling?
  • Ann talks about nighttime reflections and why it is essential.
  • Ann shares some of her daily wins.
  • Learn from what happens during the day and set an action plan for the next day.
  • Practical tips on how to start your journaling and some questions that you can ask yourself to reflect and celebrate.
  • Avoid giving yourself negative self-talk and celebrate every progress you make.

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“Whatever you do in the month, should always match up to your long-term goals so that you don’t lose sight of what’s important to you.”  

“Why do things that won’t really help you achieve your goals? Life’s too short.”

“Find a tool that works for you.”

“It is very important that you have your life vision dialed in, your life goals dialed in on where you want to be in life in 30, 50, 10 years.”

Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

It’s Not Rocket Science Show website

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Ann Tsung on Twitter

About Ann Tsung, MD


Ann Tsung, MD, MPH is a physician who is triple board-certified in emergency, critical care, and preventive/aerospace medicine. She is the podcast show host of It’s Not Rocket Science Show, and a real estate investor. Her mission is to help people create time, vitality, and deep relationships so people can achieve peak performance and fulfillment in life. Her passions include mind-body medicine, functional nutrition, longevity, productivity, and human optimization. She firmly believes that everything we need is within us now.



Please note the views, thoughts, and opinions expressed herein belong solely to the speaker, and not necessarily those of the speaker’s employer, organization, government institution, or medical program. This show is for general informational purposes only and does not constitute the practice of medicine, nursing, or other professional health care services, including the giving of medical advice, and no doctor/patient relationship is formed. The use of information on this show or materials linked from here is at the user’s own risk. The content of this show is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Users should not disregard, or delay in obtaining, medical advice for any medical condition they may have and should seek the assistance of their health care professionals for any such conditions. Please assume that any links leading you to products or services are affiliate links that I will receive compensation from. I only mention products or services that I have used and believe would add value for you. Please note that I have not been given any free products, services, or anything else by these companies in exchange for mentioning them on the site.

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Full Transcript




Ann Tsung: I think it’s very important that you have your life vision dialed in, like, your life goals dialed in on where you want to be in life in 30 years, in 50 years, in 10 years. And then just start with a daily planner. That’s all you have to start with. And just pick out a few questions from it or just get this planner and everything is, all the questions are there for you. It’s called The High Performance planner. And with all the questions there for you, all you have to do is fill it in, and really dedicate just 10 minutes of your morning and five to 10 minutes of your night to journal. And you will see that your goals that you have set for yourself in this life, you’ll achieve those micro steps. And then after a quarter, after a year, you’ll be amazed on how much you have accomplished.



ANNOUNCER: If you’re struggling with your vitality, energy, mood, focus, or sleep, this podcast is for you. Your host, Dr. Ann Tsung, ER doctor, and aerospace flight surgeon, will help you reach for the stars and remove the barriers or blockades that have been holding you back from living your best life. If you’ve been challenged by your health, relationships, or productivity, then it’s time for a breakthrough. So, here’s your host, Dr. Ann Tsung.


Ann Tsung: Hello, welcome to It’s not Rocket Science Show. I am your host, Dr. Ann Tsung. Today I like to dive a little deeper on the journaling that you do in order to set your priorities during the morning time. And then the journaling and reflections that you do at night to kind of celebrate your wins, celebrate what you have accomplished and get ready for the following day. 

I use this tool called The High Performance planner created by Brendon Burchard. I’ve been using it for a few years now and has been really instrumental in terms of helping me looking out at my life vision, my long-term annual vision, quarterly vision, monthly, weekly, down to the day. And it just organizes items for you really well. And that it gives you prompts and questions that you can do for the morning and then nighttime. 


So, let’s go ahead and dive in. The book in there has pages for quarterly planning. So, I want to read off some of the examples of the questions that it prompts you in the quarterly planning stage from January to April. What are my major personal and professional goals this quarter? And what metrics or milestones will tell me if I’m on track? If you can’t really change what you don’t measure? Right? And what experience do I want to create this quarter whether that can be your loved ones, friends, experience of joy, happiness, relaxation, I mean, those are the fun things that you can plan. And what is one of my values I’ll live each of these months as a theme. 

So, say for January, I actually put down that the theme is going to be self compassion. And then the following month, I wrote down the theme is going to be focus and presence. Some other examples I’ve had love and gratitude, or patience and reflection, I want to be reflective of the things that I have done accomplish experiences that I’ve had and be grateful for it. So that’s example of the quarterly planning page in there. That’s been pretty awesome. Whenever I’m looking at the month or the week, sometimes I check back at the quarterly planning pages, I have my monthly planning as well, to see where I’m at. And if I need to pivot and change some of the items I’m doing. Maybe I need to delete something, maybe I need to delegate something, or maybe some things can be automated or don’t matter anymore. 


And then looking ahead, dialing down more, there’s a month at a glance. And the monthly page, right now it has one-year goals and your three-year goals. Again, whatever you do in the month, should always match up to your long-term goals so that you don’t lose sight of what’s important to you. And why do things that won’t really help you achieve your goals? Life’s too short. You want to be able to move towards your vision, move towards your dream always. And some of the prompts on that page is that these things must happen this month. So, you list out the items that you must accomplish this month, say a presentation or a paper that you have to do or some sort of training you have to accomplish any meetings or major milestones. And the next prompt is the major deadlines that this month includes so you don’t forget some of the important deadlines where you have to submit things or to submit to the group or to accomplish so that whoever you’re working with can also accomplish their tasks and their job. 


And the next prompt, the best way I can prepare and ensure that I show up to win this month, to win, are I put that I need to have a blast and everything I am doing essentially in order to prepare that show up because if I am just going in with a mindset that it’s a task or that I have to do, it just feels like you know, work. It’s just feels like okay, I need to check off this box. But if I can have a blast, how can I make it fun? If I get to do this if I get to do this training to learn more if I get to try I will and have this experience or if I get to do this presentation, so that I can empower others, and to educate others and to learn together, but that’s a completely different mindset. So how can I have a blast and make it fun? And that’s how I’m going to prepare for this to show up and win this month.

And the next question is, I would feel like I am living my best month, if I can say, for example, reconnect with others, have authentic self-image and not be afraid of sharing my authentic self. And if I can, say be flexible in the goals I set and not give myself negative self talk, then I really feel like I’m living my best life this month. So that’s an example of the month ahead, and then now, it dials down even more to the week ahead. 


So, how do you have an extraordinary week? And some of the prompts that they give you is fantastic. And again, this is all listed out in the journal. So you don’t have to make your own calendar and mark your own calendar and draw them out. It’s very simple. So, what is the most important thing I need to stay focused on or make happen on this day? So lately, it has been flight surgeon training, reading through the flight rolls, and finishing the computer-based training. Essentially, a lot of the important meetings, or the weeding I have to do, journal articles, test questions I want to do, emergency medicine and critical care, those items that require deep work, that’s where I put it, and what events or meetings need to happen on this day and how can I do them exceptionally well? So important phone calls, important interviews, important meetings, where I am presenting? Or how can I prepare for them in order to contribute to the meeting, in order to move the whole project forward? 


So next problem, what is the one thing I can do for myself on this day that will bring me joy or help me recharge? Sometimes I put gym or could be sauna, it could be an afternoon meditation, or a walk in nature outside or maybe even walking meeting, or just anything that bring me joy. Or sometimes I would say, sit down and enjoy the matcha latte I have made for myself and just look out my balcony, and watch time go by for a little bit as my break that will help me recharge. It could be something very simple. And next prompt is who’s the one person that I need to reach out to, lead, care for, or work hard for on this day? What do they need from me? And how can I show up well for them? So, if it’s a meeting, I am assigned to, I put in my head that I’m going to take fantastic notes, I’m going to understand what is presented. And I’m going to send out an email with the notes I’ve taken and to send it out with the questions that really matter that this group will, you know, require us to answer. Or perhaps there is somebody I’ve been meaning to follow up with, or a friend that I’ve been meaning to follow up with, or a loved one, or my mom, my fiancée, anybody that I haven’t connected with, or I just wanted to reach out to to see how they’re doing that could go in there as well. It does not have to be for work. But even be yourself. If you haven’t connected with yourself lately. If you have just been go, go, go. Perhaps you need to give that time to yourself to reach into yourself to give yourself some self love. And how do you show up well for yourself or for others? And there’s spaces for other notes as well. 


So, that’s the week and now we dial down to the daily which is something I do every day after my morning meditation I found that that’s the perfect time frame for me to jot down my priorities for the day to reconnect with myself to set a good mindset for myself for the day. So, like I said before, regarding my morning routines, typically in the morning, I wake up, I shower, I dress, brush my teeth, do the normal hygiene, and then I go meditate. A lot of people meditate right after they get up because they found that they get into a deeper state. For me, because I want to get the hardest thing of the day over with so I go to the cold shower first. You can do it however you want. 


And for the day, the prompts, number one is today’s message to myself. Now today for me, it’s a Saturday to my me-day. So, I said to myself that I will love myself, give myself self love. And one thing I can get excited about today is well today I’m going to make it a day of celebration with my fiancé and do the things that we love that’s fun for us. If one word could describe the kind of person I want to be today, then that word is – and why do I choose it? Say, for example, today I say the one word is relaxed. And the reason why I chose it is because I don’t want to focus on my task list or to-do lists. I want to be able to just wind down from the week, get some relaxation, to be free from all the overstimulation to stop thinking about all the items I have to do. So that by next week, I can refocus, I have the mental capacity to begin again. 

And someone who needs me on my A game today is again, today’s me day. So, I said myself, I need to recuperate, I need to rejuvenate my mind, my body, and a situation that might stress me out or trip me up to date could be, so if there’s a challenge that you anticipate or a difficult conversation that you are dreading for the day, so you can write that down, and how you will deal with it is, so essentially, you are already thinking about mitigation strategies of the difficult situation, before it even happens. And that gives you perhaps some calm and peace and an action plan for the day. And what I wrote down was, I thought I might be stressed out recording these podcasts, because I was recording a few in a row. And that one of my tasks is to find out about licensing for the music I’m going to use, and something I was dreading regarding, like picking the music, because it’s almost analysis by paralysis, there’s so many different types of music out there that I can use. And, you know, it just takes time to go through all of them. So, I was dreading that a little bit. And I said to myself, really, I would deal with that. 


And regarding recording in the podcast, you know, think about my intentions, how I can serve the population, how I can serve you guys, and just go with it and share my authentic self. And regarding the music, I said that I was going to focus on it one at a time, one website at a time. And truly, the artificial deadlines are what I set for myself, to get this, you know, licensing sort out. It’s really not that urgent, I just told myself that it’s urgent, but really, it’s important, but it’s not really that urgent that I have to complete today. As long as I knew, maybe one thing that’s moving forward today, as long as I review one or two tracks today, then that is progress. So, a lot of times we have these mental deadlines for ourselves that we have, we’re racing against. And it’s kind of like the trap that we set in our own life. It happens to me a lot. So really, when it comes down to it is not that urgent. 


The next thing is someone I could surprise with a note, gift or sign of appreciation. Sometimes I put my friends a lot of times, I put my fiance and just be anybody you want. One action I could take today to demonstrate excellence or real value is perhaps that’s being present, being an attentive listener, or, you know, really focusing on the task, I have in the morning and avoiding all the distractions. Today, I said that I would be kind to myself, and there would be no negative self talk. So, to me, that is demonstrating excellence and real value to myself. Next, one thing I could do today, that’s a little outside of my comfort zone, to try something new to express something to take a phone call or have a conversation that is you’re not quite comfortable with or maybe like even a job interview, or perhaps it’s something that you’ve been thinking about doing. You’ve just been thinking, thinking, thinking but you haven’t taken action. Step two, perhaps this is that one thing that you can take the action step on. So, for me is to get the podcast and get the musical license sorted out and start thinking about the actual task list and just take action, because once you take action, the momentum will flow just like this is flowing right now. 


And next, the problem is, if I was a high performance coach, or looking at my life from a higher level, I would tell myself to remember that so this is a question that is using your higher self, your higher consciousness, that self that can be more objective, and looking at your life right now and give you your own coaching advice, essentially, like it kind of knows what’s going on and it can be truthful to you initially and this may be a little difficult because you just can’t think of a solution, though it kind of comes more natural down the line. So, for me today, I say if I was my own coach, I will say to myself that you’re doing absolutely fantastic that you are making progress, even thinking about these things, and thinking about how to serve others through those podcasts, and you’re just doing a fantastic job. 


The next prompt is the biggest project I have to keep in mind that I want to take on even though I cannot act toward them today, for me, is real estate investment. I’ve been thinking about it, I’ve been learning about it. And eventually I would like to create a real estate empire to help me with my passive income and my financial freedom. And last question from the morning, I wouldn’t know that today was a great success at the end of the day, if I didn’t said or felt this. And this is a question that, you know, don’t be too harsh on yourself. Think about the low-hanging fruits, sometimes we want to make sure we accomplish these priorities or these tasks, and then I will feel successful for the day. But, you know, I’ve learned that really take the small wins. For me, if I could connect with my fiancé for the day, if I can just share a moment of joy. If I can put in my full intention, my full authentic self to this podcast, then it’s a win for me. And if I celebrate in my efforts, if I celebrate in my time with Mike, then it’s a win for me. So those are the morning prompts. And I found that when I do them in the morning it sets me up for the day. I also write down the today’s top three goals and priorities. With the first one being the most important that I have to get done in the morning, and really, preferably, to complete all three by noon or one o’clock. And the journal also lists out the times and where you can put down the important meetings calls that you have for the timeframe a certain time. And then there are also prompts for tasks that absolutely must be done today. And sometimes I use it as some of the sub-tasks like okay, if I have time, then I will create a category. If I have time, then I will tackle this. If I have time, then I will tackle this. But very, very important is definitely always in the morning, the top three tasks, and don’t do anything else until those top three tasks are done. Say, reading a paper, a journal article, creating a presentation. Preparing to review some slides, a lot of times are items that don’t require internet connection that require you to actually to remove all notifications, distractions. Sometimes I even go as far as taking my phone outside of my office, because typically it’s in the morning anyway, early morning. And so I’m not distracted to pick up that phone. And that’s been working out really well. For me. All of my email notifications are off, all my text messages sound is off, so that I can really accomplish what most people accomplish in a few hours in just one hour. 


And now what I really love about this journal is that it has nighttime reflection questions. And this is important because you want to celebrate the wins. Again, we’re just go, go, go all the time. That’s who I am. And sometimes we don’t look back at how much we have done and accomplish throughout the day. And then we think to ourselves, I didn’t get to do that. Or oh, my gosh, I only did that halfway. I didn’t get to finish, I plan to read 30 pages, but I only read 10 pages because of the other things that popped up other meetings and calls that popped up. And so we give ourselves negative self talk, we don’t give us enough credit for what we have actually progressed throughout the day. 


And so there is a prompt for the evening journal – a moment that I really appreciated today was – and I can say what I wrote yesterday, actually, the beautiful weather, and the morning quality walk that I had with my fiancé. That’s when I really appreciated the nature. And a situation or task I handled well today, for that day, when I wrote this journal, I completed my most important tasks by 10:30am. And I thought that was a win. It could even be an interaction that you had with somebody that may have triggered you, though, you realized it, you calmed down, and you responded back in a compassionate and kind manner. Or perhaps a situation that you could have handled well was that there are so many distractions coming at you, so many temptations that you didn’t want to pick up that phone and you told yourself No, I am going to remove distractions. I’m going to focus on this. I’m not going to look at my phone. I’m not going to look at my email. I am just going to set a timer for 25 minutes or an hour and refocus. 

And the next prompt something I realized or I learned today, it could be anything that you have learned during your reading for the day, and anything you have learned through the meetings that you’ve had, or any courses that you’ve done, or it could even be something you learned about yourself, how you interact with others, or something you learn about others perhaps, and how they work, how they act, what they need, and through the interactions that you’ve had with them throughout the day. 


And number four, the prompt is that, “I could have made today even better if I”. So, with that question, I believe there’s a better way to phrase it, because I could have made today better if I is kind of like, another way to say, well, you didn’t do enough or whatever you did wasn’t good enough. It’s a form of negative self talk to me on something that’s already happened. So to me, I will prefer the question is, “I will make tomorrow better if I”. So, learning from today, what happened today, and set an intention and action plan for tomorrow. Looking forward. So, I said that I didn’t get enough sleep that day, I didn’t do enough body recovery. So, I said, for tomorrow, I will make sure I get adequate number of sleep, and to do whatever it takes to recover my body from the heavy weight lifting that I did. And again, regarding the next question, it’s a similar thing, something that could have helped me feel more connected to others today would have been, it’s another form of, to me, at least to me, that I didn’t do enough that could have, would have, should have done better. I reframed it to be more future-oriented. And something that will help me feel more connected to others tomorrow will be. So, what I wrote down was to be present with my fiancé as much as possible. And that’s how I will connect with him tomorrow. And the next problem if I was my own high performance coach, I will tell myself the statement about today. 


So, I said to. the way to kick ass today, essentially about the work that I did to progress the goals to progress on what my coworkers needed. And that just, you know, told myself that I did it well, I celebrated, I kicked ass, it’s all good. And down the line. I think, you know, after you get used to this goal setting and journaling, it becomes easier easier at first, right now everything I’ve talked about sounds like the light. And you don’t have to start with all of it. As long as, I think it’s very important that you have your life vision dialed in, like your life goals dialed in on where you want to be in life in 30 years, in 50 years, in 10 years. And then just start with a daily planner. That’s all you have to start with. And just pick out a few questions from it or just get this planner and everything is, all the questions are there for you. It’s called the High Performance planner. And with all the questions there for you, all you have to do is fill it in, and really dedicate just 10 minutes of your morning and five to 10 minutes of your night to journal. And you will see that your goals that you have set for yourself in this life, you’ll achieve those micro steps. And then after a quarter after a year, you’ll be amazed on how much you have accomplished. 


And so, to summarize, really to find a tool that works for you. Anything that is handwritten, a whiteboard posted, a planner with prompts that you have already, or really just start today, right now, write down three things that you would like to progress on today. And think about the ways that you want to feel, how you want to think, what you want to experience. And then tonight, reflect on those items. Think about what you’ve learned and what you’re grateful for, and things that you will do the following day from the lessons that you have learned today. Those are some of the very, very simple questions you can ask yourself to reflect, to celebrate. 

And for the show notes for the link to the planner, when I’m talking about, please go to In there, you will also find my free gift as well, that will help you progress towards your productivity goals. And I want to thank you for spending this time with me. I hope that this has served you well. I hope that if you just take one item from it, and maybe perhaps your mindset has changed just a little bit, I would have served my purpose here for this podcast. And thank you and remember everything that we need is already within us now. Have a good day.


ANNOUNCER: That’s it for today’s episode. Head on over to iTunes and subscribe to the show. One lucky listener every single week that posts a review on iTunes will win a chance in the grand prize drawing to win a private VIP Day for a health and life makeover with Dr. Ann Tsung, herself. Then, be sure to head on over to and pick up your free gift from Dr. Tsung. Then, join us on the next episode.


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