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Life with a toddler and a spouse with an opposite schedule made unproductive days a regular occurrence in our house until I discovered that the tasks I intentionally did the night before made a HUGE impact on how the next day went. They don't take a long time to complete, and I'm so thankful the next morning that I have a planned out day before chaos wakes up! (Toddler mom's relate, right?)
Step 1: Brain Dump
This can take on a million different forms: gratitude list, journaling, bullet journal, line by line list, etc. However, the purpose is the same--clear your mind of all the clutter and enter a state of relaxation. If you're trying to remember twenty things that have to get done and all the things to tell all the people, your brain will continually run in circles...all night long. None of us want that! Get all the things down on paper and out of your brain.
Step 2: Prioritize Your Top 3
This step may look different, depending on your career, responsibilities and schedule. But again, the main point is to narrow in on your top 3 priorities that HAVE to get done the next day, be it first thing in the morning or throughout the day.
For me, as a work at home mom, I do a lot of my work first thing in the morning (5 AM to be exact), and if I don't have my 3 tasks written down, I end up in a daze of "what am I supposed to do today...I'm tired...I don't want to do anything..." You know how it goes! If it's written down, I'm more focused and the likelihood of me actually completing the tasks rises significantly! Simply put, it limits our ability to waste time.
Step 3: Prepare Yourself
What are the hardest tasks or the biggest time suckers you do in the morning? Picking out an outfit? Accessorizing? Finding your shoes, jacket, sunscreen, umbrella, keys or purse? If you check the weather the night before and set out everything you need (especially important if you have kids), you eliminate the run around in the morning trying to remember everything you forgot.
Step 4: Plan Meals
Cooking is not my favorite thing to do, so the worst thing for me is trying to decide what to cook at 4pm each day. to eliminate this, I decided to make a month-long meal plan with a weekly shopping list so I can just cross off the giant headache that meals can be.
No matter what your planning style is, making sure to do it ahead of time is always going to save you some stress. This could even include doing some meal prep for the next day (or week), getting leftovers set up, or setting aside the money to eat out if that's your jam.
Step 5: Pack Lunches
Planning or packing lunches the night before has always been a priority for me because I really despise wasting my morning brain power on such things!
Make It Work For You
Ultimately, anything you do ahead of time to prepare is going to help you focus on the most important things. This is going to look different for everyone, so customize it to fit your family's style and routines. There are so many tasks you can do in advance to set yourself up for success--grab the bonus steps in today's free printable checklist!