“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” ~ Annie Dillard
Would you like to create a better day? Do you race through your days putting out fires, handling the urgent but with little time for the important? We all have days like that but when it becomes the norm rather than the exception, it’s time to take a step back and reconsider. As Annie Dillard’s quote illustrates, our days add up to our lives. I, for one, don’t want to look back someday and view my life as one giant to-do list being frantically checked off.
This is probably not the time for me to even write this post. This week has been hellaciously busy. I had three meetings on Wednesday alone. Last night I had a board meeting and then met up with David for a local music event we help organize each month. I don’t even want to admit how long it’s been since I vacuumed my house (two weeks? three?).
But maybe that’s why I DO need to share this now. For myself, as much as for my readers. David and I were talking yesterday, quickly running through all the various local events we are working on and filling each other in on the parts we each have been working on. He was at work and had to put me on hold three times to answer phone calls. I had just come home from picking up my monthly co-op order and running a few errands so I was putting things away while we talked. We agreed that we will take some time just for us as soon as this very busy month is over. We have scheduled live music for nine events this month, including a city-wide festival. If I’m counting correctly, that’s 22 live music slots we’ve filled. And I create Facebook events, graphics and flyers for all of these, as well as doing social media sharing for all. It’s been totally nuts.
When life is crazy it’s all the more important to make time for a few touchstones in your day. Time to slow down, enjoy the moment and remember why you are doing all this. So let’s take a look at 5 ways we can do just that.
5 Ways to Create a Better Day
The way we begin our morning has a huge impact on the rest of the day. Beginning the day with a simple, pleasant morning ritual starts the day off on a happy note. It doesn’t have to be elaborate. A cup of tea or coffee enjoyed in a leisurely fashion might be all you need, or have time for. But you can also take it up a notch with a full-fledged morning ritual taking an hour or more to indulge in several things that make you feel as though you have nourished yourself well before taking on the world. This is what I’m aiming for with My Morning Basket. It hasn’t become a habit yet but I’m working on it.
Daily life can be hectic and it’s all too easy to get caught up in the rush. Set aside time each day to step back from all the ruckus and just get quiet. You can meditate, pray or just sit quietly for a few minutes. I’ve found that the more I meditate the more of this quiet I crave. My mind is a busy, busy place most of the time and just as our bodies need rest, so do our brains. Even five minutes can make a difference in your day.
You know how I feel about my afternoon teatime, right? It’s my very favorite ritual. When I am planning my day I always plan for a break at around 4 p.m. to brew a perfect cup of tea and enjoy a little break. If you are working outside the home you may very well not be able to have a formal 4 p.m. tea break. But do try to find some time late afternoon or early evening to take a little break of some sort.
Perhaps you’d like to share a cocktail with your spouse immediately after work before you start dinner. As a kid I was always fascinated by the way Darren and Samantha did this in Bewitched. My family were teetotalers so this seemed rather exotic to me. A few years ago I set up a little bar area in our library for this very reason. I thought it would be nice to share a drink with David in our library when he first got home from work. We could sit and chat about our days before I started cooking dinner. It hasn’t happened yet but you never know.
Count Your Blessings
Studies show that the practice of gratitude has many positive benefits. Many people keep gratitude journals and that’s an excellent practice. You can do this in any number of ways. There are even apps for this. You can do it first thing in the morning, mid-day or in the evening. Personally I think evening is a good choice. If you know that you will be writing down your gratitudes before you go to bed you’ll be more likely to stay mindful during the day, looking for things to write later. And as they say, you tend to find what you seek.
Plan the next day
I believe that a good day starts the night before. Don’t wait until the morning rush to try to make a to-do list or plan your day. Take a few minutes the night before to plan the next day. There are many ways to do this. I use a full sheet of paper to map out my day. This paper is divide into categories and includes such things as our dinner plans, anything I need to purchase, people I need to contact, household tasks and work-related items. I make sure to check my planner for any meetings, appointments or other scheduled events.
I also include a few things I want to do just for myself such as playing the piano, practicing my French or reading. By planning the night before my mind is freed from all those to-dos buzzing around in my head. Well, theoretically. As I said, my mind is a busy place but this really does help.
Do you do any of these things on a regular basis? If you have other suggestions I’d love to hear them. Leave me a comment and we’ll discuss.
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Morning and evening routines can make a HUGE difference in your daily life. If you feel like your mornings and/or evenings could use an overhaul, I highly recommend these online courses by Crystal Paine: