August Dare: Plan Out Your Day The Night Before
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Happy August, friends!!
So, I have kind of quietly been taking a bunch of time off this summer, which has been awesome. But I realized that in doing so, I completely spaced off sharing our July dare. Oops! The dare that I had meant to post for the month was to “Crush On A New Band”, which I did in full force (times a dozen) at the Eaux Claires music festival that I attended with some friends in Wisconsin during July. It was awesome, it was full of so many of my favorite bands, and I left with so many new band crushes as well that I totally want to explore.
So if you feel like doing doing a “double dare” this month, I’d still totally encourage anyone to find a new band (or an old one!) and dive headfirst into Googling all about them, binge-listen to their albums, watch all of the awesome and terrible videos of them on YouTube, and if possible, stalk their tour schedule and grab tickets to their next show in town. Or even better, schedule a road trip to see them, because it wasn’t until I piled in the car for an 8-hour road drive this summer with a bunch of friends that I remembered how fun that is, even in your 30s. So the July dare was an easy one — basically, just crush on a new band like you would a new guy or girl, and have a blast falling for them and spending all of your free time getting to know them. :)
Alright. Moving onto August, because somehow it’s already August. (What?!)
Our new dare for the month is dedicated to myself and everyone else out there who needs to get back in gear, especially now that the summer is coming to a close and the school year is upon us, and get some s**t done. It’s a simple one:
Plan out your day the night before.
This is a habit that I’ve practiced on and off for years. And without fail, whenever I sit down and make myself set aside the 2-3 minutes it takes to schedule out my day the night before, magical things seem to happen.
1. I sleep better. I don’t know about you, but one of the last things that always goes through my head before falling asleep is the laundry list of things I need to accomplish the next day. When those to-do lists are just randomly buzzing around my brain, the chaos makes them feel more overwhelming, and then I start to worry about forgetting important items, and wondering if I’m going to be able to squeeze everything in, and whether I need to get up earlier, and….basically, it makes that glorious, peaceful moment of finally being able to catch some zzz’s not quite so glorious. But by contrast, when I have taken time to write out my schedule and to-do list for the next day, I can fall asleep in peace. And usually, much faster. Which means more zzz’s for me – yeah!
2. I wake up knowing where to begin. On the flip side, waking up is also a much better experience when I’ve planned by day beforehand. I’ve already thought through which big projects need to be prioritized, I have a fresh memory of the day’s schedule and what appointments may be on the calendar, and I just generally have an idea for how much energy the day is going to require.
3. I get more done. As someone who really loves efficiency (and as someone who’s a “3” on the Enneagram), this one is probably the most important to me. Quite simply — I get so much more done when I start my day with a plan. I start my days with the biggest, most important projects (when I’m feeling inspired and rested and extra-caffeinated), and then work my way through the rest of my to-do list as the day goes on, and then conclude the day with something fun that I’ve planned and look forward to. It’s basically how I try to live out my days everyday. But without a doubt, those days when I take the time to plan things out the night before are always those when I get more done.
None of this is rocket science, of course. The benefits of day-planning and goal-setting are well-documented, and recommended by just about every self-help guru and business coach imaginable. But as with so many healthy habits in life, this simple step is one that I too often easily skip over while making a bee-line to my pillow. And one that I would definitely love to focus on as I’m getting back in the groove this month.
So for anyone interested in joining me, here are a few planners that I’d recommend looking into for the fall…
Recommended Day Planners:
Storyline Productivity Schedule (Free!): This is the daily planner that I’ve used on a daily basis for the last 1.5 years or so, and I absolutely love it. (And did I mention, it’s free!!) The productivity schedule is part of the Storyline curriculum that was developed by one of my favorite authors, Donald Miller, who has an organization based around helping people learn how to live better stories. (I also highly recommend this book of his, which helped me think more about the big-picture story of my life.) I love how it forces you to prioritize the biggest three projects of your day, to think through little “rewards” for finishing each (mine are usually as simple as a quick snack, or a 5-minute walk around the block with my pup), and to actually write out the “things I get to enjoy the day”. There’s a huge PDF which explains the research and psychology behind the schedule that you can read, but I generally just print out tons of copies of page 16, which is the page pictured above. I’m hoping they release this in a spiral-bound copy you can buy soon!
The Get To Work Book ($55): This daily planner is a new release from one of my all-time favorite bloggers, Elise Blaha Cripe. First off, Elise is absolutely amazing. I’ve been reading her blog since before I even knew what a “blog” was, and just completely admire the way that she so thoughtfully lives out her life, and takes risks, and runs her businesses, and infuses such great design and creativity into everything. I’ve taken recommendations on planners she likes (see the next item below) in the past, and really love them. So when I found out that she was researching, developing, and designing a planner of her own, well let’s just say I knew right from the start that it was going to be a hit. You can watch this 7-minute video to see a walk-through of The Get To Work Book, and also catch a sneak peek of the 12 calendar pages that can double as frameable art prints here. But in general, I just love the heart and philosophy behind this planner, and think you will too. Stay tuned for pre-orders for the next release coming this month!
The Action Method Book ($16): Speaking of Elise, she actually recommended the Action Method awhile back, which I promptly bought and used for years, and still love and use to this day. They have all sorts of various products, but the Action Method Book is the planner that I really love. (I recommend lime green!) It’s super duper simple — mostly just tons of dotted blank space, which is awesome for brainstorming and doodling and not forcing you to “stay within the lines”. I love using it more for projects and party-planning and such, but it also works great for planning out your day-to-day life. And the Action Method offers all sorts of various projects and sizes of planners, so you can find the one that’s best for you.
The Day Designer ($59): I still have yet to buy a copy of this, but I have so many friends who use and swear by The Day Designer that I feel it bears mentioning. Designed by the talented Whitney English, it is an absolutely beautiful planner (which comes in multiple cover designs) that’s chocked full of helpful resources for planning meaningful days that are filled with gratitude. It’s always coming out in new editions, so if you want to get started, the “August Edition” begins this month and will carry you throughout the next year.
I Dare You!
That said, you totally don’t need to buy (or print) a planner to participate in this month’s dare. All you really need is pen and paper, and a few minutes carved out at the end of one day (or even the end of your business hours) to plan out the next day. If this isn’t a regular habit of yours already, I feel like this month’s dare might just be a tiny bit life changing. :) You let me know.
Alright, time to get stuff done. I dare you!
Great idea! I do this very informally by looking at my calendar before I go to sleep, but I love the idea of formalizing the habit. It does help me feel more productive and less anxious, knowing what to expect for the next day.
Thanks Ali, we hope you find it useful! :)
I absolutely love planning out my day the night before. I sleep better not having to worry I’m going to forget things and I absolutely get more done that I would have otherwise!
Love this post – and the Storyline planner page looks awesome! I love that he includes “things I get to enjoy today.” So important for me to remember it’s not all about doing, but also about just being.
Thanks Courtney, we’re glad you enjoyed this post!
SUCH a great dare! definitely a habit I’d like to get into
Something you might find useful is the printing and binding service offered by kinkos and most office supply chains (I find staples to be consistently the cheapest for this in my area). You can build and customize the ‘planner’ online and then have it printed, spiral bound, and delivered. Sometimes I take stacks of printouts into kinkos just to have the spiral and a plastic cover put on which is only $5. Just a thought if you haven’t tried it yet for the storyline planner :)
Thanks for sharing Liz, that’s definitely a good thing to consider — we appreciate it! :)
If I ever do this, I tend to do it only on Sundays during the sermon, ha ha whoops. But this is a great reminder. I think I’ll do it now (I actually listened to the sermon today so that’s a good start). ;)