by Crystal Paine
“I wake up feeling in control of my day because I already have a plan of action in place.”
If you are feeling overwhelmed by the challenges of a packed schedule and a too-long to-do list, may I encourage you to start doing a morning makeover?
The morning sets the tone for your whole day. When the morning goes well, the day usually goes well. And conversely, when you wake up rushed and stressed, those feelings often filter into your entire day.
I’ve spent the last few years really working on changing my approach to morning and, while it’s far from perfect, I have found three keys that are imperative to having a better morning:
Morning Organization: Begin the Night Before
You’re tired at night. I totally get that. I am, too. In fact, most nights, I can’t wait to get some comfy pants on, put my feet up, and enjoy a good book or movie.
But I’ve found that if I take fifteen minutes to prep for the next day, I do myself a huge favor. I use that time to do three things:
- Quickly clean up the main living areas of our home.
- Look over my plans for the next day and make a short to-do list or loose schedule for the next day.
- Get together anything I need to get out the door the next day (diaper bag, library books to return, etc.).
When I do this, I enjoy crawling into bed or curling up with a book a whole lot more because I know I’ve got things in great order for the next morning. Those fifteen minutes of effort often completely change my morning. Not only do I wake up to a cleaned-up house, but I wake up feeling in control of my day because I already have a plan of action in place. Now all I have to do is follow the plan!
Tip: When making your to-do list, challenge yourself to immediately cross three things off. This will force you to carefully evaluate everything on the list and help you weed out what isn’t that important.
Get Up a Little Earlier
I know, I know. Getting up early is not fun, glamorous, or exciting. And if you’re currently in a stage of life where you’re getting up multiple times in the night due to illness, pregnancy, or caring for a fussy infant or child, you can skip this point entirely.
But the rest of you, hear me out. Getting up just fifteen minutes earlier can make a tremendous impact on the overall success of your day―and quite possibly your entire life! I dare you to just try it for three weeks and see if you prove me wrong.
Instead of pulling yourself out of bed at the last minute and then rushing around like a mad woman, try waking up fifteen minutes earlier than normal in order to spend quiet time praying, reading the Bible or an encouraging book, or writing in a journal. This will give you a calm start to your day and will allow you time to be still, count your blessings, and begin your day with a great attitude.
Tip: Find a friend to join you in your early rising challenge. It’s so much easier―and more fun! ―when you’re not going it alone. You might text each other each morning when you get up to help you stay accountable.
Attack the Hardest Thing First
I’m a master procrastinator. I can come up with all sorts of seemingly good things to do instead of doing what I really should be doing. But when I spend most of the day procrastinating, I feel behind and unfulfilled.
At the beginning of this year, I challenged myself to stop putting things off, and I committed to begin my day by tackling dreaded tasks first. I thought it was going to be hard―and it was.
But I was also delighted to discover that those tasks I was loathing really weren’t that hard when I just set my mind to do them. They took a lot less time than I thought they would, and it felt good to be able to check them off my list early in the day.
You know what else I discovered? I have more time than I thought I did! When I stopped burning daylight and stalling in order to avoid unpleasant tasks, I found it freed up a lot of extra time. This, in turn, made me feel much less busy and able to go through my days more calmly and cheerfully because I wasn’t constantly feeling behind.
Tip: Have a dreaded task to tackle? Set a timer and challenge yourself to race against the clock. This will motivate you to work harder and faster―and will make it more like a game than a difficult task. You’ll probably find you get the project done in no time at all!