How can a good day become a great one?
Some days are about coping. I get that. On these days, I am happy that we got through school, some form of dinner appeared on the table at some point, and I kept the kids alive! But then there are days where I need to challenge the mental rut I’m in, be more intentional, and stop simply going through the motions.
Marcia Ramsland’s book Simplify Your Life has a section that challenged me to ask myself if there are any opportunities in my week to turn good days into great ones.
Here are seven elements of a Great Day to think about.
1) Preparation the Night Before – Have you ever taken a few minutes at the end of the day to plan out the next one? “To avoid last-minute stress, it is important to prepare the night before, even if it means just glancing at what is ahead and setting the alarm to get up early enough to accomplish it,” says Ramsland. “It might also mean gathering items needed for the next day, confirming appointments, or doing one last ‘sweep’ to put things away.”
I find myself wanting to relax at the end of the day and feeling like I definitely deserve it! (Let’s face it: I usually do.) But building just ten minutes into my evening routine to look ahead, re-order my to-do list, and set my alarm accordingly always pays huge dividends.
2) Start of the Day – What does it mean to you, personally, to start your day well? Does it mean a hot shower, coffee and the paper, exercise, devotions and prayer time, a family breakfast, everyone making beds and starting their school work quickly? With a little bit of thought, determination, and effort, we can reshape our mornings—or at least some of them—to get our days off to a better start.
3) Accomplishments – What gets done during a great day? “List the elements of what you specifically want to get done, including time with family and/or friends,” says Ramsland. I love that this is not just about things we do but also about being intentional to accomplish relationship-building. A friend once told me she felt sad that she never took time to play board games with her kids. So she actually put this on her to-do list and made it happen a few times a week. Start with the most essential things and schedule them into your day/week/month.
4) The People – Whom do you like to spend time with during the day? Since you homeschool, hopefully your kids make the list! Ramsland encourages us to name the people we want to spend time with during the day. Name your kids and spouse, of course, but also name other people in your life who you would love to spend time with on a regular basis. I have made a list of my “A-Team,” people who really encourage me. I want to be with these people more, so when I have time, I try to invite them to do something with my family (go to the park, hike, or come for a simple dinner), or I offer to take their kids to soccer practice when I’m driving there anyway, or pick up something for them at the grocery store. These are ways to integrate people you love into your everyday life and build richer relationships and better days.
5) The Pace – What is the pace of a great day for you? I have found that I can handle a few really crazy days in my week and my extroverted self sometimes even gets a thrill from this. But I also need to retreat and have some white space. Be mindful of how much margin you personally need as you think about what makes a great day for you.
6) Spark of Life – What gets you excited during your day? Sometimes as a mom, I don’t allow myself to think about what I really enjoy, because I am just so busy. But doing things I love is not selfish; it is receiving the good things God has created for me to enjoy. I want my kids to see me living purposefully and engaging in life in a joyful way, because I think that is inspiring and healthy. What sparks joy in your heart, and are there any ways you can integrate these things into your day, or at least into your week or month? Maybe it’s something like creating art, shopping, stimulating conversation, a new project that you’ve been put in charge of, decorating, planning something new, or taking a quiet walk alone to think or listen to a podcast.
7) The End – What satisfies you most at the end of the day? Does it satisfy you that you just made it through the day?—like I mentioned above, this might be your reality right now. Maybe it’s realizing you made progress to reach your goals, you spent quality time with one of your kids, you kept composure, the house is picked-up and ready for tomorrow, or maybe that you read to your children as they drifted off to sleep.
Planning a great day is like practicing the piano, according to Ramsland. You find the problem spot that keeps tripping you up and then pick it apart until you can fix it.
“If you keep looking for your stress points and make the appropriate adjustments, you will find yourself having more great days.”
Photo Credit: StockSnap.io. Following image courtesy of author.