Yesterday, I talked about my need to live a more disciplined life. In case you missed it, you can read that post here. Today, I’m going to share three tools I’ve found that are super helpful in keeping me on task…when I am dedicated to use them! Again, please give me grace, because I am a major work in progress in this area! I just thought these few tools might be helpful to someone reading this and so I wanted to share them!
1- The Make Over Your Mornings Course
As I mentioned in my last post, I have done lots of research looking for ways to keep my days organized and productive. I’ve come across TONS of strategies, methods, and printables out there which I think are kind of like “fad diets.” They work really well for a small population, but are difficult to maintain or ineffective for most people. Last spring, however, I came across a course that has been really helpful to me, did not cost a lot of money ($17 full price), and is very easy to follow through with. It is called “Make Over Your Mornings” (MOYM), and was created by Crystal Paine of moneysavingmom.com. I am not getting compensated or anything for recommending this course, I just found it really helpful! I enjoy reading Crystal’s blog, not just to spot some good deals or yummy recipes, but also because she is constantly writing encouraging messages that help me have a positive attitude and feel more self-confident. This course that she created is broken down into one short video, one short lesson to read, and a few small action steps for each day. This takes about 15 minutes a day, and there are 14 days in all. To be honest, I crammed all of the lessons in a few days straight because I was riding a wave of motivation, but you can take the whole two weeks if you want!
The biggest benefits I received from MOYM were creating an effective morning routine, but more importantly, an evening routine. I will share with you a specific change that I have made: I used to wake up to a sink full of dishes and a pretty untidy kitchen, with the mentality that each morning I would clean up from the night before. I wanted to spend the evening relaxing with David! But there’s just something about waking up to all of that mess that made me feel defeated before the day even started! Through this course, I identified what my ideal morning looks like and took small steps to figure out how I could make that a reality. (Spoiler Alert: I’m not there yet!) Crystal’s tips are all so easy to follow through with, and it’s now my habit to clean the kitchen and run the dishwasher every night after dinner. I’m sure for many of you that sounds like no real accomplishment, but to me it is! I think my favorite part of the process was when I was in England over the summer and my mother-in-law said, “David’s told me that you decided to clean the kitchen every night after dinner and that it’s made a big difference.” (Or something to that effect!) It felt so good to know that David had praised my efforts to someone else and noticed all the hard work I had done. Plus, I feel like it’s worth it every morning when I come downstairs to a clean kitchen! There is so much more to the course as well, like breaking down big goals into actionable steps, and how to best structure your to-do list. It’s super helpful, super practical, and I highly recommend it!
2- A Bullet Journal
Speaking of a to-do list, which I highly recommend having, I have just started a brand new (to me) approach to my daily to-do list. I first heard of bullet journaling over the summer in this post on the blog Modern Mrs Darcy. She also references this post, which was very informative about how to start your own bullet journal. A bullet journal is just a blank notebook that you can customize to be a day planner, personal journal, list of things to remember, and basically whatever you want it to be. It sounds pretty confusing, but both of the links above break it down so that it’s really easy to understand! I like to use mine (so far) as a resource for books I’ve read, books I want to read, things/people to pray for (and a section for answered prayers!), a personal journal (of sorts), and to organize my days. Each night, I look at what is on the schedule for the next day, any places I need to go, and any tasks I need to accomplish. I write these out in a list on the next blank page of my bullet journal, labeled with the date and using different symbols to categorize the to-do’s. As I get certain things done or finish appointments, I make a notation of that being completed. This has been such a great time management tool for me!
My favorite part of bullet journaling, though, is the “personal journal” aspect. I have always wanted to start journaling and keep a record of special little things that happen each day, or funny/sweet things that the kids say. Journaling seemed like a big pressure, though, as if I had to write long, eloquent entries that were written with the thought that my great grandchildren could come across this journal in the dusty corner of an attic one day and read it. (Am I the only one who thinks about things like that? I might be. I’m kind of weird.) Basically, outside of a few elementary school diary entries that were mostly about boys that I liked, I have never written in a journal. By the way, those diary entries are pretty funny. I wanted to marry this boy in my class and have about 50 different species of animals as pets in our backyard. I told you I’m kind of weird! But I digress; the great thing about using a bullet journal to record highlights of the day is that it’s format welcomes simple, jotted down notes that you can add quickly during the day or before bed. There’s no pressure to add too much detail or be so articulate, because the point is to quickly capture the memory. Although this isn’t directly related to time management, it clears mental clutter and gives me a huge sense of accomplishment! Many people seem to use their bullet journals in lieu of a daily/weekly/monthly planner as well. I tried to do this at first, but I can’t replace my beautifully formatted weekly Simplified Planner by Emily Ley. Which leads me to…
3- A Planner/Calendar That Works For You
You could definitely incorporate this into a bullet journal, but for me, having a separate weekly planner is really helpful. I can see each week at a glance, and scribble down the dates for clubs, sports’ practices, Bible studies, date nights, church events, parties, appointments, and everything I need to remember ahead of time. Mine also has a small box to record what you’re making for dinner each day, which is great when it comes to meal planning. I scribble all over my planner with things I need to remember on certain days, then use my bullet journal to create a more orderly task/activity/things to remember list for each day the night before. Some people also use google calendar or a scheduling app on their phone for this, but I am a pen and paper kind of girl!
So those are my three most useful tools for helping me stay on task each day! Definitely not rocket science, but I thought I would share them in case it could help anyone. Please let me know what you do to manage your time well! I am always interested in seeing how other people approach time management and would love to get some advice from you!