Whenever I have a great day I like to take some time and reflect on what made it great. Sometimes it’s obvious like going on a date with my wife, taking the kids to the pool, or having a delicious meal.
But other times the elements of a great day aren’t always as pronounced. Many times it’s a lot of little things that made it enjoyable like working on a pet project, a spontaneous conversation with someone in the hall, or even a funny video on YouTube.
I like to look back on great days to see what I can do to repeat the things that contributed to making it great.
Other days just don’t turn out great no matter what you do. You might find yourself stuck in traffic or with a flat tire, you might have just caught a cold or flu, a loved one may suddenly find themselves dealing with a health crisis, or you may find yourself suddenly unemployed.
But a lot of times having a day that we would consider great is more in our control than we think. Here are 9 tips that will help you have a great day.
1. Review your priorities.
I talk more about this here, but the gist of it is to make a list of the 3-5 most important things in your life, the things that you value most and what you would say compromise your life purpose and vision. Keep those things in front of you; frame them, make them the wallpaper on your phone, tattoo them on your arm, whatever you need to do. Then take a few minutes before you jump into your day to reflect and meditate on the things that are most important to you. This will help you set up the rest of your day.
2. Identify your MITs and work on those first thing in the morning.
MIT stands for Most Important Things. This is different from the list we talked about in the last point. That list has to do with your overall life, legacy, and purpose. This list, the MITs, are the most important things you have to do for that particular day. It could be an important meeting with a client, working on that big presentation, cleaning the house, or getting the groceries. Identify what those things are and do them first thing in the morning when you’re mind and body are the most alert.
Be sure to keep your list of MITs to no more than 3 things. You may have more than that on your to do list, but don’t have more than that on your MIT list. Remember, this isn’t everything you need or want to do today. These are the most important things that you need do today. Tackle these things first thing so they get your best time and energy.
3. Connect with someone.
I’m an introvert, so I really value time I get to myself. But even as an introvert I find my day is more enjoyable when I spend a few minutes connecting with someone. It could be as simple as having a conversation in the hallway, talking on the phone, grabbing coffee or lunch, or as deep as a late night conversation with my wife and family. Whether you’re an introvert or not there’s something about really connecting with someone that makes your day better.
4. Eat healthy.
This and numbers 5 and 6 are the ones I struggle with the most.
I love to eat. When I’m happy, I eat. When I’m sad, I eat. When I’m mad, you guessed it, I eat. Sometimes I like to eat right after I’ve just eaten!
We all know eating better helps us to live longer and healthier, but did you know it also helps us to feel better? It doesn’t always feel (or taste) that way at first, but I find the healthier I eat the happier and better I feel. I not only feel good about controlling my appetite, but the food itself actually makes me feel better because it’s less processed and more natural, which is what our bodies need.
5. Do something that gets you moving.
My job, like many others, is pretty sedentary. So if I don’t get some exercise in during the morning before work it usually doesn’t happen. I get up and, right after review my list of what matters most to me, I put on my work out clothes and go for a walk. It’s not always intense (you probably picked up on that when I said I walk instead of run) but it does get me moving and outdoors, which is also good for me.
Make it a point to get up during the day, at least every other hour, and walk around for a few minutes. Taking a break will help you feel better and more energized to tackle the next hour of work.
6. Minimize your screen time.
When we talk about our feelings we always refer to the heart, but it is really our brain that’s the center of our emotions. Studies show that too much screen time can damage your brain. Give your brain a break by limiting your recreational screen time to no more than 1 or 2 hours a day. That may sound hard for some of you (it hurts just to type it) but the less we’re on our screens the more we’re in our lives, doing things that really matter and that lead to health and happiness for ourselves and the people we love.
7. Do something fun.
What do you like to do? Do you like to read, write, volunteer, or play golf, solitaire, or two dots? Whatever it is give yourself some time to do something that you enjoy and that brings a smile to your face. Life is too short not to enjoy.
8. Get ready for tomorrow.
The best time to get ready for tomorrow is today. Ending the day with a few rituals can help set you and your family up for success tomorrow. Cleaning the dishes, taking out the trash, putting things back where they belong, making lunch, ironing your clothes, and putting together your schedule are all great ways you can minimize stress in the morning so you can get your day off to a great start.
9. Review your priorities.
End the day the way you started by reflecting on what’s really important in your life. How did your day measure up to your values? Did you spend your time on the things that matter most? Socrates said that the unexamined life is not worth living. Live your life with purpose.
Embracing these tips won’t guarantee that every day will be a great day. But making these habits part of each day will help you have more joy and purpose in your day.