Use This One Strategy to Get to Bed Earlier

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I don’t know about you, but after the kids go to bed, the night that stretches out in front of me is my time. If left to my own devices, I might just stay up all night long scrolling through *all* the social media while binge-watching Dateline reruns and eating cookie dough.

But that’s not really how I want to spend my life. Now that I’ve started waking up earlier, I’ve discovered that it’s possible to have the same amount of time to myself, but when I have it in the morning, I’m doing things to improve my mindset and fill my cup, like meditation, yoga, journaling and planning my day. At night I’m too exhausted to do anything meaningful, so Dateline and cookie dough it is!

But as much as I know what I need to do, I have such a hard time actually making myself go to bed – until I discovered this strategy.

Find a book, preferably fiction and preferably an old school paperback/hard cover, that you would love to read or are currently loving. From now on, you are only allowed to read it in bed, before you go to sleep. If you have something to look forward to, you’re more likely to get to bed earlier – maybe even way earlier than you even need to, if you’re really into the book. From there, if you’re as seriously exhausted as I am, you’ll get drowsy after 10-15 minutes of reading and have to call it quits. The combination of being in your bed – which your brain associates with sleep – along with shutting down all the electronics will allow you to feel a natural state of sleepiness.

Another point – you have to love the book. Seems obvious, right? But being willing to throw a bland book to the curb is easier said than done. I discovered this hack a month or two ago and it had been working really well until recently. It was only after I really thought about it that I realized the problem was that I was totally not interested in the book I was reading. But I had been avoiding dealing with that because I have such a hard time *not* finishing a book. I had to remind myself that I’m not in school anymore and this is my own damn life – I should only be reading books I actually want to read! It goes without saying, but your book of choice should not feel like a chore – it should be a treat!

For myself, I love a good mystery or psychological thriller – anything from Big Little Liesto Murder on the Orient Express to The Girl on the Train to young adult thrillers like Christopher Pike. (By the way, recommendations are *always* welcome).

Of course, this strategy presupposes that you enjoy reading. What if you don’t? First, I’d challenge that. Go to a bookstore (they do still exist) and wander around. There are so many genres. Find something, anything – even if it seems like trifling garbage and you’d be embarrassed to admit you were reading it to anyone but it looks intriguing to you. In fact, bonus points if it feels like a guilty pleasure – all the more enticing! I know I’m always questioning whether every activity I’m engaged in is productive in some way, and it’s really nice to have a time when I can just indulge in something that’s pure entertainment.

But if you really don’t like the idea of reading, there are other things you can do. The trick is to find an activity of some kind that you enjoy that you can only do in bed – like coloring in an adult coloring book, applying a favorite lotion to your feet, writing in a journal, or listening to a relaxation visualization track. I’d love to hear some other ideas!

Have you tried this strategy? Do you have other strategies for getting to bed earlier?

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How I Use My Daily Journal

Many times over, I would start a journal or a personal development notebook and barely write in a couple of pages before giving up. Luckily, my 6 year old daughter loves new notebooks, so they eventually get used up! I give them to her for long car trips and they never disappoint.

But I was disappointed in my lack of a daily notetaking habit and I was potentially missing out on changing my life for the better.

How I Use My Daily Journal

My latest journal is an Erin Condren journal with her “productivity layout” and I’m. in. love.  And I guess I wanted to make Erin proud or something because I worked really hard on coming up with a framework for daily note-taking that I’m finding so useful, I actually take notes everyday.

Here it is:

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And here’s the breakdown:

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On the first page, I’m taking jotting stuff down throughout the day. On the left I have a good-sized spot for today’s Notes – anything that you want to remember later from various sources, like reading, meetings, audiobooks, podcasts, etc.

To the right side, there is a spot for a list. I always leave it blank and wait until inspiration hits me. Inevitably I’ll have a list of some kind to make that day, whether it’s ideas for blog posts, things to do for my daughter’s birthday party, or things I need to pack for a trip. This customizable Erin Condren notebook with its “productivity layout” even includes bullet points down the list.

I’ve dedicated the following page to my Evening Reflection, which I do every night as part of my “evening routine”.

First, Tomorrow’s Top Priority – notice that it says “Priority” and not “Priorities”. This is not the place to list every single thing that I need to do! I’m focusing on the one thing I need to accomplish tomorrow and going to bed with that in mind. Then, when I wake up in the morning, I already have that priority focused and can get started on the day much faster (useful for waking up in the morning when you’re so not a morning person).

Next, I write one thing I’m grateful for, which makes a big difference in cultivating a positive mindset.

And I saved the best for last – write down something to Sleep On – ask yourself a question or think about a problem that needs to be solved, especially a problem that needs a creative solution. Your subconscious will actually work on it while you sleep. (Say whaaaaaat!?) According to Thomas Edison, [a person should] “never go to sleep without a request to your subconscious.” This productivity hack delights me SO much because there is literally nothing more efficient than getting something done WHILE YOU’RE SLEEPING.

Right?!

20180417_095133So what about you? Do you have a great system for writing down notes in your journal everyday?