A morning review creates a power-start to your day.
The process I recommend will take you less than 10 minutes, but it will give you peace and clarity about the day ahead of you and what you can reasonably accomplish.
The best time to do a morning review is before the children are up and awake, while the house is peaceful and quiet and the day has not yet begun in earnest. However, that is not always possible. When, for whatever reason, my morning review doesn’t happen before the kids are up, I do it in the midst of life while the kids are eating their breakfast or doing their morning chores. It is a brief time to review what the day holds and gear up so I am mentally prepared to meet the coming day and tackle it well.
There are five components to my morning review, but it can be abridged to include only the first two when morning activity crowds in early.
First, look at your calendar. Look at today and what’s on the agenda. Glance at the rest of the week and see if there’s anything you need to get ready for. If you have commitments outside the house, that shapes what you can expect to get done at home during your day.
If you have a commitment for the next day, is there anything you can do today to smooth the way for yourself and make it easier to leave the house? Gathering the library books to return or making sure the diaper bag is stocked are always nice to have done the day before – and sometimes I even stick them in the car the day before so I don’t forget them.
2. Daily To-Do List
Second, write a daily to-do list for the day’s essential tasks. What are the top three things that absolutely must be done today? It is so easy to start multiplying the tasks, all of which feel important, but we have to restrain ourselves and focus on what will make the most impact. It takes a lot of discernment to separate the I-wish-I-would from I-really-must, but that discernment is a quality we can practice and grow in if we pay attention and try. Choosing no more than three things as priority tasks that must be done today and not any later is a key step toward learning how to choose the right thing at the right time. Then, the earlier in the day you can get those most important things done, the better.
Lists are for looking at. If we don’t look at our lists, they can’t help us. When I look over my various lists and choose what to focus on that day, I am reminding myself of what must be done so it doesn’t come as a surprise later. With that reminder in the back of my head, I can better reprioritize on the fly as the day develops – because days rarely do go as expected.
A final thing I like to do as I look over and think about my day is to copy out by hand a motivating verse, quote, or motto onto my to-do list. I choose a single sentence that will remind me why what I’m doing is important, or how I should be approaching all the seeming interruptions to my plans, or what my attitude should reflect. More than seeing the motto on my list throughout the day, it is the pause to write it out by hand that causes reflection and helps the sentiment I’m copying to sink in.
This is, in a way, a one-minute focused meditation, right there in the midst of the crazy at my kitchen counter.
Looking over your calendar, making a short list of prioritized tasks, and reminding yourself of the importance of your own attitude are three steps to focusing your morning and centering yourself.