Last year, I spent a lot of time looking at ways to better manage the chaos that comes with life as a working mum. There had been times where I was disorganised and overwhelmed with everything I had to do that I sometimes felt like I was failing on all fronts. I tried hard to break bad habits and build better ones and to overall, become more organised and efficient with my time. Things are a lot better these days but with the ongoing changing pressures of work, life and family, it’s always a work in progress.
A while a go I wrote this post about 5 things worth waking up early for that can lead to a better day. Your morning sets the tone of the entire day so it’s important to get it right. But what about how we end our day? Our evenings can also impact the next day so it’s good to get your priorities right – at least most of the time!
Here are five habits I have incorporated into my evening which has made a big difference to the following day:
- 10 minute tidy
A few years ago, I got totally sick and tired of being the one putting away everything that had been left out during the day. In a perfect world, when you use something it should immediately go back where it belongs when you have finished with it but when you have kids and live a busy lifestyle, this is near impossible. So, to overcome this, I introduced the ’10 minute tidy’ where before the girls go to bed, I set the microwave timer for 10 minutes and everyone (including Dad!) goes around the house and tidies any mess or puts away things they see lying around. I have to say, this idea of mine is pretty genius and it was extremely helpful during the school holidays. It has made a huge difference to the state of the house and it is great that everyone helps. We now only need to do our ’10 minute tidy’ just a few times a week depending on how messy things are, and sometimes, there is even time left to do things like fold washing, tidy up bedrooms and empty the dishwasher. It’s amazing how much you can actually accomplish in 10 minutes.
- Plan tomorrow
This is a very important one for me. Without actually meaning to, I somehow manage to squander a lot of time if I don’t plan my day. I flit between tasks and never actually finish anything which makes me feel overwhelmed and anxious. So, to avoid all of this, I spend time each evening prioritising the tasks on my to do list and allocating time for each during the day. I know this doesn’t sound very spontaneous or sexy but when I wake up, I know exactly what I need to do and I can move through my list without having to think about what to do next which saves so much time. Planning my day the night before has so far been the best way for me to get those important things checked off my to do list and make sure that I stay on top of my work. A calendar and a to-do-list are often enough for some people but if you are like me and want to take your planning and goal setting to the next level, there are a number of tools that can help with prioritising and managing your day so you can be the most productive. I have tried a number of different diaries, planning systems and apps but the one that works the best for me is the Self Journal by Best Self Co. A dear friend gifted this to me last year and it has been amazingly helpful.There are so many things I like about it – it allows you to focus on 3 main goals across any area of your life and then break these down into weekly and daily actions which you can allocate each day over 13-weeks. There is also space for reflection and gratitude which is a nice way to start and finish your day and is often missing from other similar journals. I just love it and if you think you might too, you can find out more information here.
- Wash the dishes
There is nothing worse than waking up in the morning to the dinner dishes. I have been guilty of doing this over the years and Morning-Suzanne always hates Last-Night-Suzanne for not making sure they are done. We have a dishwasher so most of our dishes go in here but there are still things that need to be washed in the sink. No matter what you have on, always, always, always make time to clean up the kitchen and get your kids to help you out too! No good can come from a sink full of dirty dishes in the morning! Going to bed with a clean and tidy kitchen is a load off your mind as well.
- Put a load of washing in the machine
Most nights, I have a load of washing sorted and ready to be put in the washing machine the following morning. If I have time, I will put it in the washing machine that same night with the detergent and set the in-built delay timer for it to come on super early so that I have a load to hang out first thing. I bought a new washing machine a couple of years ago and it is so super quiet that I can set it to come on at 4.00 or 5.00 in the morning and it doesn’t wake up the whole house. This saves so much time in the morning and without much effort, a whole load of washing is done before you know it. This is especially helpful during the cooler months when clothes take longer to dry. I don’t have a clothes dryer (my contribution to saving the planet!) so I do have to stay on top of my washing during winter!
I used to be an avid reader when I worked in the city. Before smart phones, it helped pass the time on the train and sometimes even on lunch breaks. When I would go to bed, I could hardly wait to pick up my book and continue on where I had left off. I’m not sure what happened, but life somehow got in the way of me and my books and it was only recently that I started forcing myself to read again. It has still not quite yet become a habit but I am getting there. Reading in the evening is a great way to unwind and it also helps me to sleep. I don’t think I need to tell you all the other benefits of reading a good book. It is in many ways a lot better than watching some terrible TV show. Lately I have been reading books about entrepreneurship, the importance of having good habits which has been quite interesting and currently I am reading a Marian Keyes book that I haven’t read before – The Mystery of Mercy Close.
So these are my five evening essentials. What’s yours?