In part 1 of this series, I introduced the word-prompts for summing up your day. They are:
Starting where we left off in part 1…
Under this heading, you list what you did today. The author of this ritual, Craig Ballyntine, suggests aiming for at least five things. “Celebrate the small victories,” he says (I like that!). My first thought when I considered this heading was that it was just “busy work.” After all, the day is already past; there’s nothing I can do to improve it. I can’t go back and “do” more or better things. But after trying it a time or two (I always give a try!), I started to see that it is not so much about “journaling” your daily chores as it is “giving an account.”
I remembered an incident from the Bible when Jesus sent His disciples out on a mission with very specific directions.1 When they returned, they all “gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught.”2 That’s kind of what I feel like when I fill in this section of the journal. I’m giving an account for the day that I was given. I do like Ballyntine suggests and aim for five things. If I am honest, this section will show me if my life is filled with trivia and minutia or if I am actually moving towards my most important goals.
It also reveals whether or not I am balanced. If all my time is spent on tasks and none on relationships, then something is amiss. It has been good for me to list my “dids” and to acknowledge that having “supper with Misty and the kids” is just as valid a way to spend part of my day as getting a “new listing in a nice neighborhood” is (by the way, that’s real estate agent lingo).
Here are a few entries from the Did portion of my journal this month:
Did – 1) I wrote a long blog post; 2) I balanced our personal checkbook; 3) I paid bills; 4) I “touched” people who commented on the blog; 5) I followed up on my current real estate contracts.
Did – 1) I posted a Fun Friday blog post; 2) I ran 11 miles; 3) I listed a house for sale; 4) I completed a client’s real estate addendum; 5) I had supper and a good visit with Misty and the boys.
Did – 1) I wrote lots of emails to Chayil women [Chayil is the name of the women’s ministry at our church, which I lead]; 2) I wrote a blog post; 3) I had a good meeting with Natasha [need I say this again? Not her real name—same goes for other names mentioned]; 4) I paid bills; 5) I touched base with Peggy Sue regarding her track of development and also with Rhonda regarding her status in life/work.
I’m sure my “dids” will look much different than yours, especially if you are a young mother. Different seasons of life have different emphases. Enjoy and embrace the season you are in!
The Do heading is where you list what you plan to “Do” tomorrow. Again, aim for at least five things. On my actual “to do” list, I may have a string of things to prompt my memory: pick up prescription, pay electric bill, call client, etc. But in this before-I-fall-asleep list, I list the most important, most time-consuming things I plan to do. I find this extremely helpful in narrowing my focus when I get up the next morning. I know exactly where to direct my energy early in the day (this is why this ritual helps me sleep better; it removes any subtle uncertainty about “where to start” and any nervousness about “will I forget?”).
By the way, all time management gurus advocate making a quality to-do list the night before (or first thing in the morning) in order to accomplish the most in your day. So consider this ritual not only a mindfulness and gratitude tool, but a time-management tool, as well! Some say just the simple act of making the list will make you 25% more efficient.
Here are a few entries from my journal under the Do heading:
Do – 1) run 11 miles; 2) answer emails; 3) follow up on real estate contracts; 4) pay bills.
Do – 1) I will spend quality time with Bearsey and Sheppy [grandsons]; 2) pay bills; 3) work on my new listing; 4) read Chayil reports; 5) Start my day by writing for the first 15 minutes that I am awake (this statement had to do with my 30-day challenge for the month; my way of embedding it in my mind).
Do – 1) run 3 miles, 2) complete paperwork for sending wires from bank, 3) complete paperwork for new listing, 4) meet with Mary Ann, 5) write a blog post.
I’ll write about Appreciate and Learn in the next post. Until then, have you started practicing this ritual? Which part, thus far, appeals to you the most? Let me know in the comments.