She found herself playing video games and watching TV all day… The need to plan for a productive day.

I received a phone call recently from someone who’d lost their job. She said she was in a funk, had no energy, had a mile long to-do list and felt overwhelmed. She found herself playing video games and watching tv all day. We had a long talk where I shared what works for me, to keep me industrious.

In the morning it’s essential to prepare yourself for the day as if you had a (out of house) job. That means shower, hair, (and makeup if you wear it) and getting dressed even on days you aren’t leaving the house for anything. Something about looking and feeling good helps energize us.

Then what? I start my day each morning with a hot drink, a planner, and a prayer.

For many years I would write a long to-do list. It actually made me quite productive! With pleasure I’d check off one-by-one the (plus or minus) 20 things I’d accomplished as I plotted through my list, patting myself on the back at the end of each day…

After years of doing this, one day I looked at my list and became a tad depressed as I noticed that if I had 22 items to accomplish on my list, I’d get only, say, 15 things done. The things I did NOT get done (day after day) were always the hardest things, or things that were important, the things I did NOT want to do…

Realizing my long to-do list wasn’t working like it should, I started playing with my list. I decided to put just one thing on my list the next day: EXERCISE! I had been putting off exercising forever, even though it was always on my list.

And I exercised that day. Finally.

I received the following tip from a friend. Try drawing a line to divide the day’s planner in half. On the left side, write down the one-most-important thing you have to do that day: Finish a report; Pay a late bill; Doctors appointment; write a chapter; or apply to a specific job etc. Then on the right side of the day’s planner write the things you want do if you have time AFTER you’ve done the one most important thing you have to accomplish that day.. On the right side you can write things like: write a chapter, write a blog post, go to the post office, make spaghetti for dinner, vacuum the bedrooms etc. Play with the amount of important things you HAVE to get done that day. After a little practice, you’ll find what works best for you.

Though I started with one item on the left side of my planner, these days I find that putting three items on the left side to accomplish that day works better for me. These days I start my day with my planner and a hot cup of tea and ask, “Dear God, what 3 things are most important for me to do today?” Although usually it’s pretty obvious what those three things are, sometimes I have to take my best guess. But I know that WHATEVER I list WILL get done!

At the end of the day many people do what some call an examination of their day with 3 questions: What did I do well today? What did I do poorly? What could I have done better?

However, recently I heard speaker say, “An unplanned life is not a life worth examining.”

If a captain of a ship doesn’t plan his day and lets his ship go wherever the currents of the ocean take him, he may most likely find himself where he doesn’t want to be. We are the captains of our days. We need to plan them well for our day’s work to be productive. Experiment with what may work best for you. We’re all different. But we all need some sort of plan!

As for the person who’d called me, she’s since reported that she’s back to her old industrious self. She began by exercising. Once she started exercising, she began to get more energetic. Then, with a ‘to-do’ list, things began falling into place.

“An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion” Isaac Newton

“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail” ~Benjamin Franklin

Industrious: constantly, regularly, or habitually active or occupied  industrious worker

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