I love relaxing in my bedroom. It’s usually the cleanest and quietest room in the house, because it does not see the same level of life activity as the other main areas of our home.
It is also one of the most put together rooms in terms of decor and comforts. It is often only in this room that I will take the time to slow down from life’s hectic pace. And because I have learned the value of a good night of sleep, it is mostly in this room that I prioritize the inclusion of those little things that aid in relaxation and rest – a candle here, a photograph there; little rituals that serve no purpose beyond bringing a smile to my face and helping me to shed the cares and burdens of the day.
Little wonder that this haven of peace beckons to me at the end of each day. The dilemma is when I answer its siren call in the middle of a day, to the detriment of a to-do list that is in need of my time and attention.
Now please don’t misunderstand: I am an avid advocate for days of rest, not only on the Sabbath, but liberally sprinkled throughout our seasons as time to simply recharge. Nor do I subscribe to the idea that we should be a slave to our schedules. In fact, quite the reverse, I am earnestly working to simplify my own schedule, paring down to the things that are truly important and learning the simple-yet-oh-so-hard skill of saying “no” to the seemingly endless opportunities to fill up every speck of empty space.
Yet there must be some days where we tackle our commitments and priorities with gusto. Those days make the days of rest possible, and it is unwise and unhelpful to be a sloth on such days.
Yet, this is exactly one of those days. And after a bit of pondering in my favorite cozy spot (complete with a mug of hot apple cider), I think I’ve landed on the main contribution to my sluggish attitude. What I believe we have here, is a failure to plan. Actually, to be more precise, a failure to plan at the right time.
The plan is important. On the days I wake up and wing it, I end up at the mercy of whatever happens to grab my attention – a work deadline, a hungry family, a sink so full of dirty dishes I have to eat breakfast off a paper plate; or, less industriously, perhaps it’s a new post from one of my favorite bloggers or the rabbit hole called pinterest. At the end of the day, I wonder where all my time went.
So, I do my best to make sure I make a plan for my day. The plan may have to change. The plan may have to change so much I just chuck the whole thing out the window. But it’s one way that I can help myself stay on track and keep account of my days (a sentiment drawn from Psalm 90:12).
For the longest time, I would do my planning first thing in the morning. I reasoned this way I could align my plans with how I was feeling and how much I thought I could reasonably accomplish. But on occasion, I would find it more convenient to plan the night before – usually before what I anticipated to be a busy morning – and I noticed an interesting trend. If I made a plan the night before, I usually accomplished more than the days I planned first thing in the morning.
My theory behind this phenomenon is that I rarely feel like doing all that much, especially first thing in the morning. I’m tired, I’m cranky, I’ve not reached my minimum coffee limit, and I’m quickly distracted by the demands of the day and the immediate needs of my family.
However, by planning the night before, I wake up and begin to trudge my predetermined path, coffee in hand. And though the day may yet begin in the same chaotic way, I always know the next thing to do. When I get sidetracked, it is much easier to get back on course. When I don’t feel like it, it is easy to just take the next small step (instead of trying to figure out what I can do that fits my current mood…how about nothing?!). One small success grants enough enthusiasm to pursue another, and before I know it, I come to the end of my day and feel pleased with all the progress I was able to accomplish.
To be sure, there’s no magic bullet for time management and productivity, and this is no exception. No matter how or when you plan, it comes down to the discipline of following through. But I encourage you to search for the tricks and habits that make that follow through just a little bit easier.
Eliminating the need to make next-step decision early on in the process by doing my planning the night before has been a great trick for me, and I know it’s a habit I need to incorporate in my routine and stick to.
I hope you’ll give it a try and see if it might work for you too. If you do, I’d love to hear about the outcome, or feel free to share any other tips that you’ve picked up in your own planning journey in the comments below.
Have a great week, friends!