Since we took our life on the road, I’ve constantly struggled with the daily battle of having a flexible schedule vs. a productive work day. While I love the freedom that this lifestyle offers, it can be hard to find a routine that allows you to accomplish your to-do list.
I’ve tried tomato timers, hour-by-hour agendas, and my default of completely flying by the seat of my pants! Some things work, some don’t and honestly, it can depend on the day and the mood. But one thing is for sure, the struggle is real. Many days end with me beating myself up about what I did or did not get done, how much time I wasted, my inefficiencies, and the worst – comparing my productivity to others!
You may have similar struggles. If you’re like me, you might even be a perfectionist and uber hard on yourself. So combine those personality traits with all the distractions out there (cough, social media) and it can be so hard to fight through the day!
But recently, I had a bit of an epiphany. It never mattered how many times I’d try to end the day with crediting myself for everything I achieved, or how much grace I’d give myself, nothing seemed to make me feel better.
I really started to think to myself “if this were my last day on earth…what would make it a good day?” and “what makes me feel my best throughout the day”. I sat down and made a list, and now that has become my daily to-do’s.
It’s achievable. It’s powerful. It’s the stuff that really matters.
So no matter what happens each day, I know that if I do these 10 things, it’s gonna be a good one. Pressures off! And I believe it will help you, too.
Here’s my list of 10 simple ways to have a good day:
1. Learn something new
There is something about learning new things and that feeling of a light bulb going off in your head that makes you feel like you’ve achieved something. Whether you learn something new in your job, your hobby, or just something you’re interested in, it helps boost your confidence and mood.
- Watch an instructional video or listen to a podcast about a specific topic
- Ask someone to teach you a new skill
- Read an informational article online or in a newspaper/magazine
2. Do something active
Move your body! And I don’t mean just taking the stairs instead of the elevator (although that’s a good choice). Break a sweat, get your heart rate up, and really move. It doesn’t have to be an extreme workout just do something active. I don’t even have to go into the benefits of physical exercise but don’t forget about it’s positive effects on your mental health, too.
- Go on a long walk with your dog or a friend
- Go dance in your room by yourself
- Play with a kid and try to match their energy level for as long as humanly possible
- Ride your bike to work or to run an errand
3. Express yourself
Okay, I know what you’re thinking. It sounds like I’m recommending you take a good healthy poo every day. And well, yes, you should do that too. But I was actually talking about emotional expression.
Getting in touch with your emotions is crucial for your overall wellness. And yes, you should tune in to those emotions daily! You’ll be amazed at how good it feels to get your thoughts and feelings out of your head and heart. This might be hard for some of you!
If nothing else, practice expressing gratitude. Think about, talk about, or write down 3 things you are thankful for each morning. No matter what your circumstances are or how you are feeling, there is always, always something to be grateful for. This trains your mind to see the bright side of life and have a positive mindset.
- Tell someone you love them (this should happen every single day…don’t wait to tell someone you care!)
- Write in a journal or if you’re the creative type write a poem or song!
- Communicate your feelings with someone. You may be frustrated or irritated with someone or jealous of them. Don’t be afraid to express that in a kind and non-threatening way. Or you might be impressed with someone, concerned about or grateful for them. Share that with them – you’ll make their day and yours!
- Crying is okay too, it’s healthy!
4. Spend time with God
We all have a higher spiritual being or energy that guides us. Mine is God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit and I refuse to let a day pass without acknowledging their presence in my life. I’d fall flat on my face without my deep faith. There’s so much hope and inspiration in a relationship with God and my heart yearns for it. Everyday I hear, read, and pray God’s word and it makes all the difference.
- Read the Bible. There’s no excuse – there are apps that make it just as easy to read His word as it is to check Facebook or Instagram.
- Meditate on a certain verse or scripture that speaks to you
- Listen to worship music
- Pray. There’s no right or wrong way, no length requirement and you can do it any time of day and all throughout the day. Just talk and invite God into your thoughts. Give your worries to Him. Pray for yourself and others.
5. Smile and laugh
Ever heard that laughter is the best medicine? It’s true! Even just a simple smile releases feel-good chemicals in your brain. Even if you have to fake a smile or laugh – it will end up making you genuinely smile or laugh. Try it, I dare you! A smile makes you look good, too. But if that’s not enough reasons to smile and laugh more, check out the health benefits they can offer your body:
- Look at old photos of happy times
- Play with your pet or someone else’s. Nothing beats a dog hug or kiss!
- Follow accounts on social media that post funny memes, gifs, and videos so it automatically comes up in your feed
- Watch a funny movie or TV show (try not to binge watch, though!)
6. Hug at least one person
Don’t roll your eyes at this one! And don’t say “you’re not a hugger”. We were created to need physical touch and a hug is the ultimate heart warmer. Hug your spouse, hug a coworker, hug an animal, hug a tree, hug a stranger (ask first!)…hug yourself dang it! Just do it! Try a 20 second hug for even better results. But I recommend you try that with someone you’re extra close to in order to avoid awkward, creepy feelings! 🙂
- Make hugging part of your routine. Before bed, when you leave or arrive home, whenever it feels right!
- Find a hugging partner. This sounds cheesy, I know. But explain the benefits to someone and establish an agreement that you’ll give each other hugs whenever you need it with no questions asked!
7. Focus on and complete ONE important task/project
Key word: complete. Think about the absolute most important thing you need to get done each day and focus all your energy on that ONE thing. I know what you’re thinking, “I have 20…not 1!”. I get it, but what is most important? Be sure that your to-do list isn’t full of should-do’s that don’t matter. Checking things off a list is not what should be motivating you.
The “ONE thing” you do each day may very well be a small step towards a larger project or goal. That’s fine. Just determine what ONE little piece of the final product you can chip away at and have that be your focus for the day.
Eliminate the unimportant things then tackle the rest one…thing…at…a…time. Multi-tasking sounds great, but leads to overwhelm and confusion, which is never a way to actually complete something. A book that helps with this concept is The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results.
- Each morning, look at your to-do list and pick your ONE thing. Be intentional right from the beginning of the day!
- Do your “one thing” very first. Then, anything else you complete after that is a bonus!
- Rather than view your success or productivity by how many things you did, think about how many things you did well.
8. Do something for YOU
Say these two words with me now…self care! I’m not sure why we all struggle with this one, especially during busy times! We always put ourselves on the back burner, but that has to stop! Even if you just take 5-10 minutes a day, you MUST do something that is just for YOU.
This “you time” should be something that is good for your mind, body, and soul. Something that helps you relieve stress, take a mental break, and feel re-energized. You need and deserve it. Self care is not selfish. By taking care of yourself, you’re much more likely to be better at caring for others.
Forgive yourself, be kind to yourself, love yourself. Or nobody else will! Tell yourself something you love about you every day.
- Eat at least one healthy meal and do a work out to fuel your body
- Yoga, stretch, meditate…anything that gets you to push out your thoughts, focus on breathing and listening to what your body needs. Or take a nap!
- Listen to something that inspires you and builds you up
- Treat yourself to something every day – chocolate, a bath, time to yourself, etc.
As a former Kindergarten teacher, I told my students to read every day. I gotta practice what I preach. Reading is so good for your brain it’s like feeding it vegetables. I’ll just leave this video right here:
- Join a book club or find a friend to be a book buddy with. It will hold you accountable!
- Keep a book by your bed side and make it a nightly routine. It will also help you fall asleep!
- Read what captivates you so you’ll get hooked. Mystery novels, comic books, self-help, children’s books…it doesn’t matter!
10. Go outside
Sunny, cloudy, snowy, or humid – just spend time outside. You don’t have to be outdoorsy to just be outdoors. Humans weren’t meant to stay inside under florescent lights all day. It’s a real downer. The air, the sun (even if it’s covered by clouds), the sounds…it makes you feel alive!
- Find a favorite spot – a park, an overlook, a bench – with scenery that you love that you can visit every day. It can be right outside your home or a short walk or drive away. Just find your “spot” that makes you feel one with nature.
- Stimulate all your senses. Take deep breaths, close your eyes and focus on the sounds or smells around you, feel the grass, sand, or rocks, etc. Really connect with nature.
A few extra honorable mentions…
- Drink water. A lot of it.
- Practice mindfulness. Breath and be present
- Be silly. Dance in the kitchen, make a stupid joke, laugh at yourself.
- Dream. Spend time visualizing you living your dream and reaching your goals.
- Call a friend. Don’t text, call!
- Go at least an hour without checking your phone. It’s possible, I promise!
Since identifying these things, my days have become much more intentional. I realized that the amount of work I completed, my efficiency, or productivity really shouldn’t define whether or not I had a good day. It’s about so much more than that. I challenge you to try it yourself!
I realized that the amount of work I completed, my efficiency, or productivity really shouldn’t define whether or not I had a good day.
I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below! Is there something else you strive to do every day? What helps you feel productive and satisfied?