Too many of us throw planning out the window when we retire or reach a certain age and just let our days wash away with the fading of the evening sun. A recent incident with my mother -in- law who is in her mid 80's and lives alone reinforced my belief that life is short - and we should, not only plan our day, but focus on putting joy and meaning into everything we do - no matter how menial a task is - as it gives life meaning and brings us closer to achieving our dreams.
So what happened with my mother -in- law? Well, I went early to visit her as she was having trouble getting her newspaper. The delivery boy was throwing the paper too close to the road and she had been unable to collect it. It was about 8.30 am in the morning. As I walked up to the front door I could see her sitting in the lounge chair and I thought she had seen me, but as I approached the door she did not move. I knocked on the door lightly and she still did not move, so I knocked louder. I could see her eyes were closed and her mouth was open so I thought perhaps she was asleep.I tried the door and it was unlocked so I opened it slightly and said "Hello Mary". She still did not move, so I shouted louder. When she still did not move - I started to get really worried - you can imagine what I was thinking. As I walked towards her she awoke and sat up straight. I blurted out "Thank God, I thought you were dead". She just smiled and said "I must have dosed off. Can't think why when I have only just gotten out of bed. Still I don't have anything to do today anyway". After sharing a coffee, I went home. This incidnet go me to thinking about how important it is, no matter how old we are, to make the most of every day. As a baby boomer, I know that my time is limited so I need to make the most of each and every minute.
Self-coach Tips to Making the Most of Your Day
- Starting the Day right the Night Before: Get a good nights sleep
- Create a Morning Routine - Your routine will vary from mine but it might include rising at a regular time,getting some exercise like going for a walk or doing some yoga, eating a healthy breakfast, meditation or prayer, perhaps reading the local paper and getting up to speed on what's happening in your community.
- Plan your Day - spend 15 minutes checking your diary/calendar and making a "to do list".List the most important 3 tasks for your day - must be done. If you get on to the other items on your list it's a bonus.
- Going for Your Goals - Don't let the dream get lost in the nitty gritty of the daily grind. Allocate some time each day taking a step towards achieving one of your life's larger goals. You might have a couple of these so choose one for the day and go for it. I have a dream board and a Ready Set Goal Chart above my desk to remind me of where I'm heading. I can already cross off one of my big goals - to complete a through walk. Yeah-ya.
- Get Together with Others - Go for coffee with the girls or hang out with your mates for an hour. Connect with a family member. Have lunch with a work colleague. If you are house bound then pick up the phone or get online (yes even us oldies can Facebook). Connecting with others improves our health and makes us live longer. But don't make it all about you. Ask questions and listen to the responses - become fully engaged with the other person and their worldview.
- Be Grateful - It's good for the soul to remember our blessings. No matter how bad our situation is there is always something to be thankful for. I like to jot down a couple of things that I am thankful for each day (see tip 9) as it helps me put things into perspective and think positive.
- Manage Your Energy - find your Prime Time - the time of day that your have the most energy and set the most challenging task for this period. Also identify the time of day where your energy levels or concentration drops off choose activities accordingly.
- Review Your Day - Create a simple routine for the end of the day. I like to look back over my to do list and see what is left to be done. I also like to journal about the my day recording the highs and lows. This reflection process enables me to plan for tomorrow and keeps me on track towards achieving my bigger goals. It's a bit of a brain dump which clears my mind of all the task orientated matters of the day so I can start to relax before the evening meal.
- Unwind- Before bed (actually when I am in bed) I like to read. At the moment I am doing a 90 devotional for women "Daily Steps for god Chicks by Holly Wagner. My husband likes o read the National or Australian Geographic. He generally falls asleep mid article.
The University of Washington have created a quick tip that also includes a couple of additional hints like :
- Make use of waiting time - How much time do we waist in a day just waiting - waiting for the train/bus, waiting at the traffic lights; waiting at the doctors; being placed on hold while on the phone etc. Instead of getting impatient use this time for a mini meditation session (hum a tune or take some deep breaths or do some stretches). Alternatively do some small task or take a book to read.
- Unplug - in an ever increasing "screen scene" society it can sometimes feel like we can never disconnect. But hey, why not set some boundaries around when and how long you or family members will use computers, mobile phone, ipads and even the plasma. We are at the moment trialing a 3 months T.V free week -week-ends only. It's amazing how a good old game of cards can be loads of fun.
Enjoy Your Day
While none of these ideas are earth shattering, I hope you can make use of some of them to help you bring a little more sunshine into your day. Have a good one.