Give me 5 minutes, and I’ll give you ….
Um …. well …. a free printable daily planner?!? Just what you were hoping for, right?
Here’s the thing, though …. this simple form that takes just 5 minutes to fill out at night, can do wonders for your day tomorrow.
Let me just tell you that I’m far from what you’d call ‘super organized.’ At times (actually, several times just recently), I’m a hot mess. Like you might meet me and think I’ve lost my mind … or have severe ADD … or am a bit of a crabby B*, or all of the above.
After the boys go to bed, I have 8 million things I want to get done. The house is usually a mess, there’s dirty dishes to put in the dishwasher, there are backpacks, toys, and, more often than not … socks and undies strewn about in various places throughout our house (still baffles me as to how undies end up all over the house?!?). There are lunches to be packed, backpacks to be refilled, forms to be signed, and papers and mail to read. This time after the boys go to bed is also my one time during the day to work on my blog. And I love this blog. I think I love this blog too much sometimes. I would much rather jump into a project, a post, or check Facebook than clean up dishes. I have been know to work on projects or be on the computer until late hours of the night (early morning??), and then … when I can barely keep my eyes open anymore, I stumble up to bed and am instantly asleep. It’s on nights like those, that I then wake up to Baby Ben around 6am sharp, and the day starts off rolling. And snowballing. And my head is constantly spinning. And I have no real clue what needs to happen first. What forms need to be signed. Who I need to call. What appointments I’m supposed to make. What we’re having for dinner. Or basically … I’m a hot mess mama that seems to perpetuate the chaos of our everyday life.
Well … I’m fixin’ to put those days to an end. (and, no … I’m not one bit Southern, if you’re wondering about that last sentence)
I mentioned last week about I now try to go to bed at a reasonable hour. No more 1am red eye blog sessions. I really try hard to be in bed (and hopefully asleep) by 11. With that earlier bedtime, I also try to wake up before the boys. Even if it’s just 15 minutes. Just to have 15 minutes to make coffee and collect my thoughts (and put on my game face for the day).
The other thing that I’ve just started doing ... every night ... is filling out this simple daily planner. Sometimes I force myself to do it. Sometimes I’m excited about doing it. I’ve even forgotten once and had to get out of bed to go get my notebook to finish it. But it’s amazingly helpful. At least so far it’s been great, and so I thought I’d share. Yes, there is still chaos when the boys are all up each morning, but now I am okay with it. I am even learning to embrace the chaos a bit. And that’s because I’m clear on what our day looks like, what my priorities are, and what must get done … everything else is just a bonus. I’ve also noticed that I am more aware of the small ‘wins’ during the day and seem to be better at making an effort to make everyday ‘a good day’. (sorry if that sounds a bit cheesy, but it’s true).
I’ve given a lot of thought to a daily planner worksheet over the past year. I’ve read books about nightly rituals. I’ve even tried a template from the latest book I read, The Charged Life from Brendon Burchard (see that ‘Productivity Planner’ HERE). My friend Sara also send me a great template from a planner she had received. I liked a little bit of different things from each example. I also found that I needed a template that was quick, but effective if I was going to stick with this habit each night.
Here’s what I came up with:
Let me first break down the components of this worksheet and explain WHY I choose to include each of them.
‘Building Your Dreams One Day At A Time’
Step 1: Well … I guess writing tonight’s date is step ONE, but I figured you could handle that one on your own. So … the first section on this planner is focused on your GOALS. The goals that I’m referring to here, however, are your three top goals don’t change everyday. The thinking here is that you have bigger aspirations … maybe New Year’s Resolutions … maybe goals-of-the-month … maybe BIG life aspirations, lofty life goals, but THREE things that remain the same for some time. This section is intended to do two things:
- Force you to write down these goals … each and everyday. This keeps them in front of you and at the forefront of your mind. They don’t get buried in the everyday chaos. Writing them down each night reminds you of them and forces you to take a minute to evaluate them again and again. And writing them down also helps hold you accountable to yourself to work on these things that you’ve decided are important in your life.
- And secondly, by writing down what you did today and what you plan to do tomorrow ensures that you continue moving toward these goals (even in tiny, itty bitty increments). What I’ve heard and read over and over and over (and also applied in my own life) is that you just need to START. Start somewhere. Start working toward that big goal by taking a small step today. Start the conversation. Take the first step. Just do something to move you closer to your goal … everyday. Even if you’re not completely clear on what that goal looks like. Even if it’s a bit fuzzy … just start doing something. Marie Forleo (one of my faves) mentions frequently that clarity comes from action (not from planning). Once you start doing somethings, the path opens up and becomes more clear. Just pick some small actions each day to move forward toward your goal. Make a call to a friend about your idea. Do some research on the topic. Think of those in your network that you can reach out to to bounce ideas off of. Those seemingly inconsequential actions can really make a big difference in the course of a month, a quarter, or a year. And, if you’re strapped for time (as most Moms are), just focus on doing something every day. Want to be (and feel like) a better mom? Pick up some parenting books from the library, research some blogs to follow that provide helpful tips, look for community groups to join, talk to your friends and fellow Mom’s about their ‘secrets’. Work on it everyday, and you’ll be amazed at how far you’ve come in a year (and how much you’ve learned along the way).
‘Looking Forward To Tomorrow’
STEP 2: Now that you’ve forced yourself to spend sometime on yourself and your goals …. it’s time to get more tactical. The goal of this section is to get you to look at your calendar. I’m not joking …. physically pull it out, or pull it up if it’s on your phone or computer … and look at it. Look at your day tomorrow. Your week ahead. And finally, glance through your month quickly. This is huge for me. I keep a lot of info on my phone’s calendar (that I share with Matt), but I also have an offline blog calendar that I use. Matt adds stuff to our shared google calendar all day long and I usually don’t have time to register it all. I add stuff to the calendar on walks, between pushes on the swing, at the gym, or basically anywhere something pops into my mind. I’m good about adding all the info. I’m not so good, however, at looking at the calendar and planning for the day ahead, the week ahead, or even the month ahead. I’ve been caught off guard by a ‘pajama day’ at school that I had on the calendar, but forgot to actually LOOK at the day before or morning of. I’ve been caught without a sitter because our scheduled dinner date ‘snuck up’ on me (even though it was there for weeks. I need this step to do two things:
- Force me to look at my calendar and mentally prepare for the day, week, and month ahead … everyday.
- The second section helps me to pick three things … just 3 things … to focus on accomplishing tomorrow. Not my 100+ items on my to-do list. Not the things that pop into my mind all day long, screaming, “Do me! I’m the most important!!” These are the three things that I’ve intentionally decided must get done tomorrow. Pediatricians appointments. School forms that are due. Making a call to the plumber. Buying toilet paper … whatever. This section forces you to take a minute and prioritize what are the must-do’s for tomorrow. Then … when you have 5 minutes of peace after breakfast, you call refer to the list and make the pediatrician appointment. When you’re 5 minutes early to pick up at camp or school, you can call the plumber. When you’re at the store, you will remember to buy more toilet paper. Get these three things done … and it’s a successful day! No more endless to-do lists weighing on your mind while you contemplate each’s priority.
‘Just a Little Better Everyday’ & ‘Life is Good’
STEP 3: End your night on a good note! This last section will leave you going to sleep thinking about ‘One Win’ of your day, ‘One Thing To Do Tomorrow to Make It Great’, and a couple things that you’re grateful for at the moment.
Your one win of the day can be simple … ‘Owen shared a toy with Charlie.’ Or huge … ‘Charlie went potty on the ‘big boy’ potty’ or ‘Ben slept through the night’, or ‘I learned how to grill Salmon to perfection.’ It’s simply a way to pat yourself on the back, so-to-speak, for a small or bigger thing that went right today. Celebrate the small victories!
After celebrating what went right today, think about having a good day tomorrow. What one thing can you do to make it a ‘good day’? Tell a new joke to the family at breakfast? Smile more than yelling/raising your voice? Take Charlie to the park while Owen is at camp? Read a book to Ben … just the two of us? Sit down and color with Owen? Watch 15 minutes of Thomas The Train with Charlie … without distraction?
And finally, end by consciously writing down what you’re grateful for. Big things. Small things. Things that you’ve noticed today that make you happy. Anything that you’d be sad to wake up without. Just jot a few down every night, and you’ll be amazed how much more content you feel as you drift off to bed. You can read more about my ONE New Year’s Resolution this year to be more grateful HERE.
That’s it! There you have it … the template, the planner, and the ideas and instructions:
I love mine so far. I fill it out right before I head up to bed each night. It’s helped me remember to send a field trip form with Owen one morning. It’s helped me remember to call the pediatrician (a task that I am terrible at pushing off). It’s even helped me remember to buy toilet paper (and that’s something that is no fun to run out of!). It also helps me to be more present with the boys during the day. All the million to-do’s aren’t weighing on my mind all day. I know what I MUST accomplish, what NOT to forget, and everything else can come only if there’s time.
I have two versions available for download (so you can give this method a try, too!!) …
The first is the larger, 8.5″ x 11″ template, perfect for those cute three ring binders (Target has some adorable ones … just sayin’). Each day will take up a whole page, but you’ll have more room to write with this size:
Download the large 8.5″ x 11″ template HERE (I print double sided copies to fill my book).
The second version is the 5.5″ x 8″ and works great for those smaller planners. This is the size I use. Awhile back I bought a smaller planner binder that I keep notes, my calendar, and other random thoughts that pop into my mind during the day. It basically goes with me everywhere. I wanted my nightly planning template to also fit in here so I could keep everything in one place.
You can download this smaller version HERE. HINT: It is designed to be printed double sided and when you choose ‘flip on long side’ the template should line up on the front and back. Then, I simply used a paper cutter (or even a scissors to cut the sheets to size.
If you give this a try each night, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Or … if you have other helpful tips or other things you do each night to help you have a better morning … please share!
A little better everyday, right?
Thanks for stopping by!