Tips for planning your day

Putting first things first takes planning. Making a to-do list will help the rest of your day go more smoothly without being burdened by trying to remember what the most important needs are.

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  • Life is full of good things to achieve, worthy causes that need our help, and fun things we enjoy doing. So many people and so many needs are pulling at us. This world is filled with opportunities and exciting goals to achieve. How can we choose among so many? Each hour of our day is precious and fleeting. We must choose wisely what we will do with our limited time on this earth.

  • Richard G. Scott said, “In quiet moments when you think about it, you recognize what is critically important in life and what isn't. Be wise and don't let good things crowd out those that are essential.”

  • Choices are not always between good or bad

  • If you only had to choose between good or bad that would make life too easy. It’s simple to acknowledge that something is bad, therefore not even close to being on your to-do list. The hardest choices are the ones between good and good. How can you make a wise choice when either choice is good? We suggest you write down the things you want to accomplish. Make three lists: (1) things I need to do today, (2) things I hope to accomplish this month, and (3) things I would like to do before I pass on to the next life, known as a bucket list.

  • A daily to-do list

  • List the things you want to accomplish today. Some people make this list the evening before they go to bed. Putting it on paper keeps your mind from being weighed down trying to remember what needs to be done. Preplanning makes for a more restful night’s sleep.

  • Make the list, then prioritize it. Here’s a sample of what might be on your list, if you are a mom. (A dad’s list will be different, but every bit as important, so we urge men to make their list, too.)

  • 1. Call Johnny’s teacher about his struggle with math.

  • 2. Clean the hall closet.

  • 3. Call Mom and wish her a happy birthday.

  • 4. Read a story to the kids.

  • 5. Plan dinners for the week.

  • 6. Confirm Jenny’s doctor’s appointment.

  • 7. Get my nails done.

  • 8. Pay the bills.

  • 9. Walk for 20 minutes.

  • 10. Call to see what I can do to help at the homeless shelter.

  • What is most important?

  • When you make your own list, ask yourself “What are the must-do items on my list?” Rearrange your list by putting those at the beginning. That doesn’t mean you won’t do everything on the list, but it means that if something more important interrupts your day, which often happens, you will at least know what the have-to’s are and get them done. The rest can wait for another day.

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  • One way to help prioritize is to put your family first, right after your early morning 20 minute walk, if possible. If you’re in good physical condition, you will be better able to deal with all else on the list. Certainly calling your mom on her birthday is a must. Waiting until the next day won’t work. Depending on the severity of the problem, a call to your child’s teacher may need to be near the top. Only you can evaluate what is most important. Planning dinners for the week can make every day of the week free from having to figure it out each day. Cleaning a closet can wait if more important things used up the day. Thank goodness for tomorrow!

  • This same system applies to lists 2 and 3. These are more fluid and can be changed as needed. The most important items from these lists will eventually make their way to list #1.

  • If you plan your day by putting first things first, you will accomplish the things that matter most. That alone will bring greater peace into your life.

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Gary Lundberg is a licensed marriage and family therapist. Joy is a writer. Together they author books on relationships.


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