There are some days when we feel like we have everything together.
We knock off everything from our to-do list. We manage to get in a workout. Eat a nourishing meal. Connect with friends. We feel on top of the world.
While we wish every day could feel like we’re living our best lives, we know that real life (and our energy levels!) can get in the way. But, believe it or not, there are things you can do everyday to ensure that your days feel more well-rounded.
If you’re looking to inject your days with a little more productivity, mindfulness, and purpose, here are 8 ideas for things you can do before 8pm to feel more fulfilled. (Try just 1 at a time - you don't have to do all 8 in one day!)
1. Get inspired
If you’re feeling stuck with your goals or struggling to overcome a sense of inertia, it could be a sign that you’ve been working too hard. That’s why it’s so essential to refill our tank and take inspiration when we can. Our input is just as important, if not more, than our output.
Inspiration can come in many different forms, and from many different sources. Inspiration can be:
- Reading your favorite travel or lifestyle blog
- Reading your favorite quote or passage from a book
- Meditating for ten minutes
- Reciting a mantra
- Reading an interview with your favorite writer or mentor figure
Allow yourself time in the morning to get inspired. Or maybe end the day with an inspiring passage from a book. Take the time to feed your spirit so that you can regain focus and energy.
2. Write down your wins
Not all of us have the benefit of having a life or career coach, so we often need to turn to ourselves for a pep talk. If positive affirmations and mantras aren’t your thing, then try writing down a list of your wins, big and small.
Reflecting on your wins is a great way to remind yourself that you are capable and strong, while also giving you a positive push to maintain momentum.
Your list can look something like this:
- Made the bed
- Washed the dishes
- Wrote a thank you email
- Submitted a grad school application
You can do this in the morning and start your day off on a positive note, or write your list in the evening to wind down your day with a sense of accomplishment.
3. Take a mindful walk
In order to ensure that you have a good night’s rest, you’ll want to make sure that your daytime routine includes a physical activity. Stress and anxiety can negatively impact our sleep, and a simple way to manage your stress levels is to take a mindful walk outside. Avoid listening to a podcast or any music while you’re doing this exercise.
Instead, try to take in your surroundings and focus on the present moment. You can experience the benefits of a mindful walk and feel more relaxed and centered in just twenty or thirty minutes.
4. Write it out
Another exercise that can help you combat stress and anxiety is to use journal writing as an outlet. We often bottle up our stresses and emotions, which can later manifest into anger or stress.
Take anywhere from five to fifteen minutes to write about your day, your worries, your goals, or whatever is weighing on your mind. Not only will the physical act of writing feel deeply therapeutic, but seeing your thoughts on paper might even help you gain perspective on a stressful situation. You may realize that a problem was not as big as it seemed or you may find a new solution to the problem.
5. Knock off 3 things off your to-do list
You can make busy days seem like a breeze with an effective and organized to-do list.
But if you have a never-ending to do list, how do you know which tasks to focus on? If you’re having trouble defining your priorities, try honing in on three tasks that will have the most impact. For instance, do you really need to clean out your closet today? Or will your time be better spent decluttering your desk, which would then allow you to work on your goals in a clean and organized setting? Or do you really need to shoot off all emails or would it be more effective to do them in a batch at the end of the week?
Identify the most important items from your to do list, and ask yourself if they are truly urgent, or if they can wait until tomorrow.
If you have energy left in the tank, then you can address any remaining tasks. But you’ll feel a huge wave of relief knowing that you accomplished your top 3 priorities for the day.
6. Do one thing that’s related to your goal
The days that feel most fulfilling are always the ones that feel most aligned with your purpose or give you a clearer sense of direction.
That’s why it can be so meaningful to set aside time each day to work on a personal goal. You don’t need several hours to devote yourself to a goal, just use whatever free time you have. Do you have two hours? That’s great. 15 minutes? That’s great, too. Choose a set amount of time and stick to it.
What is one thing you could do today to help you feel closer to your goal? Maybe that means writing down a list of action items so that you are armed with an action plan for the future. Or adding action items to your calendar so that you can hold yourself accountable. Or maybe it means finally hunkering down and editing that manuscript or finishing that presentation or sending an email that can forge a potential new connection.
If prioritizing your goal remains a daily struggle, try working on your goal first thing in the morning so that it’s completed. Not only will you start the day off with a huge win, but you’ll feel so much better knowing that you’re doing something that’s connected to a deeper purpose.
7. Do one nice thing for someone and do one nice thing for yourself
We may not always have the emotional bandwidth to support everyone in our lives, but we can always take the time to do at least one nice thing for one person. It can be something as small as holding the door open for a stranger or telling a neighbor you love their garden. You can send a thank you email to a friend or colleague. Provide edits to a friend’s cover letter. Or support a small business or independent artist.
And don’t forget to do one nice thing for yourself. Whether it’s treating yourself to a nourishing meal or reading your favorite book or going for a long walk, doing an act of self care will help refresh your cup, which will allow you to continue giving to yourself and others.
8. Write your to-do list for the next day
Before I close up shop and shut down my computer, I like to quickly write down my to-do list for the next day, using my Ink+Volt Daily Task Pad. This helps me identify what I accomplished that day as well as figure out what I need to do for tomorrow, while it’s all still fresh in my memory.
A lot of people swear by making to-do lists in the morning, but I have found it to be easier to make mine the night before. It makes me feel more prepared in the morning, and allows me to ease into my day.
You can apply all of these strategies to your day, or incorporate the ones that resonate with you. You can also play around with the sequencing--maybe you prefer to go for your mindful walk in the morning and then end the day with a journaling exercise or vice versa. Feel free to expand on these ideas or add your own. Let us know what you like to do before 8pm to feel more fulfilled!