Something I've been working on lately is always looking ahead to the next step, to see what I can do to make my life easier. For example, when I'm cleaning up the kitchen after supper, I get the coffee pot ready to go for the next day. At night, when I'm putting my jammies on (usually at around 7:30 pm!), I lay my clothes out for the morning. When I get the baby up from his afternoon nap, I lay out his bath stuff. When I empty the dishwasher in the morning, I immediately put soap in the dispenser and close it. (This is also a great trick for figuring out whether the dishes are clean or dirty - at my house, if there's soap in the dispenser, the dishes are dirty!). When I'm preparing tonight's supper, I'll look to see if there's anything I can do to get a head start on tomorrow night's supper. If we have an outing planned for the next day, I'll pack the diaper bag and place it by the front door.
Doing these little things throughout the day helps me in two ways.
One, it makes my life a teensy bit easier. If I'm feeling particularly frazzled, it helps immensely to know that those little things are already done. Sometimes it feels like I have a little elf around the house... I feel like saying "oh, yaay!" when I realize that something I need to do is already done, at least partly. It's also provides a great time buffer. Similar to having an emergency fund in case of a financial crisis, planning ahead helps us to prepare for a time crisis. If something comes up during the day that demands my time, it gives me a little freedom to know that a lot of what I have to do is already done.
And two, it keeps me motivated. When I open my eyes in the morning and see my clothes laid out, and smell the coffee brewing, it's SO much easier to drag my butt out of bed. When I know the diaper bag is already packed and ready to go, I'm less likely to back out of whatever I had planned for the day. It's about setting myself up for success, and making it harder to fail.
So now, whenever I'm in the midst of doing something, I try to always ask myself "what's next?", and then go ahead and get ready for it.
What kinds of things do you do to plan for what's next? I'd love to hear your ideas!
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