Sunset

New Year – End Your Day Well

Today is the last posting for my New Year series. I thought I should use this final topic to discuss setting ourselves up for a good tomorrow by finishing our day well.

My days have drastically changed in the last year. Many days have no specific deadlines now. I could wake up and go about my duties in a leisurely way, although I think that would be a foolish waste of precious hours.

Gears and cogs

There is one day that stays consistent through the waxing and waning of my life – Sunday. Sundays are…well, dare I say it?…choaos in high gear. Looking back, I have no idea how I held Sundays together when my children were little. Even now, when I don’t have little mouths to feed and little arms and legs to stuff into their Sunday best, I can barely get out the door. Some might point to the fact that I travel almost an hour to get to church or that many times I stay in my church area all day long. However, I really don’t think that my problem lies in those excuses.  I wake up 2.25 hours before I am supposed to leave. Any reasonable person (especially a person without others that are heavily relying on her) should be able to head out the door in peace with that kind of lead.

Instead, my Sunday face is not a pretty one. Most of the time I’m leaving with a look that contains a mix of frustration, panic, and even a bit of anger thrown in. Somehow those two plus hours go by with lightning speed and once again I’m walking out the door ten minutes later than I intended.

Satan wins his first battle of the day when I remake my Lord’s Day into Manic Day. It’s hard to get into a worshipping spirit when I am still seething from my role as drill sergeant, even if I’m just screaming at myself!

Besides my bad attitude, my stressful Sundays affect me in other ways. I am much more likely to push the speed limit. After all, I have to make up the ten minutes I lost at the start somewhere. Also, my frantic pace inevitably causes me to forget something. Just this week, even after attempting to be more organized, I walked out the door without my reading glasses. It didn’t matter that I had almost a half dozen pair of glasses at home.  I had the choice of squinting all day and creating more wrinkles to add to my stress lines or paying money to buy a pair down in my church vicinity. I ended up picking up a pair at a dollar store near my church, but even though they were only a dollar, that pair of glasses stands as a reminder of how disorganization costs me.

Glasses

I have decided I need to quit this cycle of haphazard living. I believe I can best do this by being intentional in planning for the next day the night before. Maybe for me this is most important on Saturday nights, but if it can make a smoother transition into a day and make me more productive in the way I use my hours, why shouldn’t I do it every day? Here are the six things I think I need to do every night before bed:

  1. Straighten the house.  Now, I’m not talking about major housework here, just a quick pick-up of objects out of place.  If there is less clutter around, I can focus from the moment I open my eyes on what I should, instead of on the things that are in the wrong places.  My biggest concentration will be on my kitchen and entryway, as those are the places I’ll be launching my day from.  I hope to have dinner clean-up already done prior to this “straighten” time, so I expect to spend no more than 15 minutes on this task.
  2. Review my calendar and menu for tomorrow.  Do I have any must do’s or appointments on my calendar?  What are we eating tomorrow?  Do I need to bring food for an occasion?  Is there anything I need to take out of the freezer to thaw?  If we’re eating out, do I have any coupons I should bring?
  3. Make a task list for tomorrow.  What do I want to accomplish?  If I have a plan in place before I wake up, I won’t be spinning my wheels trying to decide what I really should be doing when the day is upon me.
  4. Create a launch pad.  I really could avoid a lot of stress by gathering what I need to take with me on Sundays the night before.  Remember those forgotten reading glasses?  I could have saved the time and money I spent trying to buy another pair if I’d set them out on Saturday night.  Is my phone charging near my purse?  Do I need to bring up a cooler from the basement to put cold food in to take with me the next day?  Are there any gifts I need to bring (and make sure are wrapped)?  There is no static list – it is really best to think through the day ahead and try to be prepared for it to arrive.
  5. Set out the clothes I will be wearing.  I think some psychologist would have a theory or two as to why I am so resistant to doing this simple thing.  My mother-in-law, who had many great qualities, insisted on selecting her clothes the night before.  In fact, a number of times she fell because she was in her closet too late at night deciding on what to wear the next day.  Because I have never consistently done this task, I inevitably find out that the item I decide to wear isn’t clean or needs to be ironed.  Do you think I have time on Sunday mornings to iron?  Nope.  I end up either picking something else to wear, wearing wrinkled clothes and hoping I can get away with the au natural look, or dragging out the iron and board and sucking up more precious time.
  6. Go to bed on time.  When I stretch out my bedtime and go to bed too late, I wake up sluggish.  I just can’t move around at the same pace the next day.  It is amazing how much less productive I am by just going to bed a half hour late.  Now, my first thought is that I can’t put in these nightly rituals and still go to bed at a decent hour, but I think that is just an excuse.  On a typical night, I should be able to start these focuses an hour before bedtime and still snuggle into my pillow on time.  If I consistently find that they are taking longer (for real, not because I’m getting distracted), I’ll have to start a little earlier.

Do do you want to join me in an experiment?  I’m going to try doing this over the next three weeks every night (including Saturday) and see if it makes my mornings calmer and more productive.  I’m hoping after three weeks, I’ll never want to go back to my chaotic morning craziness.

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