Would you like to have one day a week—just for you—to replenish, think, plan, create, and get your feet back under you? That is the goal of today’s post…to show you how to make that happen.
For years, I typically felt like a pinball machine. I’d bounce from one thing to the next—never really getting anything done, but feeling tired and busy all day long.
As I learned how to get organized, my pace slowed, my home and office became calm, and my lists started to get checked off—consistently. But one day I attended a leadership class at a business conference where high-level CEOs were explaining how they structured their time. I sat in the back with my notebook and pen ready, but secretly I was thinking, “I’m already organized. I don’t know if there’s anything they can teach me.” Oh boy, was I wrong.
I proceeded to listen to multiple CEOs explain the concept of working “on” the business and not “in” the business. And then I started imagining that concept being applied to my family… And my personal life. And I got incredibly excited.
What has resulted is NOT a perfect science. I don’t do this every single week, and I don’t have a perfect plan in place. But over the past several years, I have learned how to take a regular “April Day.” And I want to show you how to do the same thing.
I’ve got a planning template available for you at the bottom of this post that will give you some helpful ideas you could replicate. But first, I’m going to walk you through a few foundational concepts. Then hopefully this template and these ideas will change your life!! (Are you getting excited?!!!)
(1) Have the appropriate conversations. The first one might need to be with yourself—as you give yourself permission to replenish, rejuvenate, and refresh. I don’t need to explain how hard this is for some people. But if you’ve ever heard the analogy of “sharpening the saw,” that totally applies here.
You also might need to have a conversation with your spouse, your employer, your children, your co-workers, or someone else who depends on you during the day. My conversation with Eric looked something like this:
“Honey, you know how I’ve been scattered and frazzled a lot lately? I know it’s been hard on you and the family. It’s been hard on me, too, but I think I’ve figured out a way to make things better. I’m planning to take one day a week out of the ‘chaos’ to replenish, reflect on my goals, think through my projects, and get things set up for the week for our family and business. I’m confident that this is going to help me to be happier and more relaxed—and it will ultimately help me to get more done and achieve the vision we’ve been working towards.”
Eric was more than happy to support that. He had a few suggestions and ideas regarding which day of the week/hours I would be gone, how we could work together to best balance the needs of the children and the business, how we could still make time to do our couples’ planning session, etc., but here’s the thing—no one likes seeing a loved one constantly falling apart. And when I could show him a simple way to support me in achieving better balance, he moved heaven and earth to make it happen. (In fact, he’s become the one pushing me out the door when I get distracted, saying, “It’s your day! Go make it awesome!”)
I recognize that not everyone has a supportive spouse (or supportive people around them, in general), but even if you start really simply—with just an hour or two at the library or something like that—I strongly believe this will make a HUGE difference for you.
(2) Block your special day on your calendar as a recurring event. You can change it up, occasionally, if needed, but making this a regular day at a regular time is ideal.
***You might not be able to get a whole day, to begin with. When I first started out, it was a few hours in the evening while Eric put the children to bed. Then it graduated to a few hours in the afternoon while a babysitter came over and played with our kids. Then I started taking some time at the library by myself. Not a whole day, but part of a day.
The goal is to do SOMETHING with the time and energy that you have available.
(3) PROTECT it. If someone asks me to attend an event or set up a meeting during my day, I do everything I can to protect it—just as I would a doctor appointment. I don’t think of that as selfish…That’s how I keep my sanity.
When the day comes….
(1) Lay a solid foundation. Clean up the house, see everyone off to school, exercise, have your regular morning routine, finish any date-specific tasks (sometimes Eric and I need to get something done for the business, for example), process any emails that came in overnight, and get your brain in a spot where you feel stable.
(2) Replenish your spirit. I typically can’t jump right into a planning session. I need time to transition from “busy life” to “gaining inspiration for my life,” so I’ll find a sunny, grassy spot and take a rest while I listen to an uplifting podcast, occasionally go get a massage at my favorite place, take a walk in a beautiful area, run fun errands (like buying a new shirt or getting some healthy non-perishable food I’m excited about at the grocery store), take time out for personal worship, or read a great book.
If you’re an extrovert, you could call a friend, go visit someone you haven’t seen for awhile, explore something you’re excited about, ride your bike, visit an art exhibit, etc. The goal is to do something that feels FUN to you.
(3) Eat. Sometimes I pack a healthy lunch. Other times I go to a favorite restaurant and get a meal I’m excited about. ? But this part is incredibly important because you don’t want to plan your life when your stomach is thinking only of food.
When it’s time to plan….
(1) Find a quiet place. Sometimes I stay in our basement and work there. Other times I go to the library. Occasionally, I’ll sit in a quiet restaurant, if they don’t mind me using a booth for a couple of hours.
(2) Silence your phone and close your email or social media browsers. Incredibly important….
(3) Focus your attention on your plan.
Typically, I have my laptop, paper planner, and a notebook in front of me. Then I go through this process I think you’ll love:
- Clean up anything cluttering your mind—ideas, reminders, random thoughts that are causing a distraction.
- If you pray, this is a good time to offer a prayer!
- Review the goals you’ve already set for yourself, your family, and your profession or community involvement. I have a 50-year-plan, a 3-5 year plan, annual goals, quarterly goals, monthly projects, and a weekly focus. They’re all outlined, so I just do a quick review. (If you’re in our Life Architecture program, you’re probably in the process of creating these. If you haven’t yet set goals, now might be a great time to identify what you want to accomplish in the next 90 days.)
- Evaluate—even if it just takes a minute. How are things going? What needs to change? What is working really well? (I answer these questions from my own perspective, but then I also try to look at it from God’s perspective.)
- Review your project list – Current, In Process, Next in Line, and Someday. Make sure only 1-3 projects are in your “Current” list for each category: personal, family, and business. (Check out our podcast about how to manage projects in Asana here!) Clarify, reprioritize, send follow-up messages…
- Clean up anything else you’d like—Next Actions List, Routines List, etc. (If you’re in STEP, you have a Weekly Review all outlined for you there.)
- Review any new information you’ve received since your last planning session. Conferences you’ve attended? (Link to conference-planning template) Books you’ve read? Meetings?) And update your projects, routines, etc. with that information.
- Look ahead at your week and identify things you can do to get ahead, to solve problems you’re facing, and to make things easier tomorrow than they were today/yesterday…
- Record any thoughts, ideas, or things you want to remember in your journal (sometimes I use my planner or Evernote). This is also where I ask God if there’s anything I have missed or anything further I need to consider.
(4) When you feel like you have your head together for at least the next week, you’re done!
I hope that was helpful! If you’d like a worksheet to give you some kind of a framework for your first special day, we have both digital and printable options available to you.
Having time for you is not a luxury. It’s essential. How often do you make time for everyone else? Phone calls, emails, requests, needs—things that were never planned in advance, but for which you are asked to respond—right away? It is a beautiful thing to be of service. It’s a beautiful thing to do your job well and to be there for your family and loved ones.
But when you consistently make time to invest in your own mental, spiritual, and emotional health, the results will astound you!!
Why is it important to me to take this time for myself? How will I feel when I have taken time to “sharpen the saw?”
Look at your calendar, pick a time, and have these conversations. Schedule this day and then protect this time. Happy [insert your name] day!
Do you have any questions about how to make this work for you? Or maybe you had some great ideas you’d like to share that we missed–please share in the comments below! We look forward to hearing from you!