3.14 Ways to Get the Most Out of Today (or any day)

Happy Pi Day!

Yes, if you didn’t know, today, March 14, is Pi Day. Rest assured, this post has nothing to do with mathematics, unless you incorporate mathematics into the suggestions below.

Instead, let’s talk about getting the most out of today.

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“The future starts today, not tomorrow.” – Pope John Paul II

Do you find yourself thinking too much about tomorrow? or maybe some other point in the future? Maybe when you get that next promotion or find your way out of a job you are not satisfied with, pay this or that off, when your kids are able to do X, or maybe when you think you will have more time? I do, almost to a fault.

I remember once a brief encounter with a woman who was probably in her 70s on an elevator, when I asked her how she was doing. She told me that she was fine and asked me the same. I responded with something along the lines of “Good. I’m glad it’s Friday!”. Instead of agreeing (she was probably retired anyways and less enthused that it was Friday), she said “Don’t wish your life away”. I was troubled for the rest of night, probably for the whole weekend; and, truly, every time I think of that encounter. She certainly struck a nerve.

I, like most of the people I know and probably like most other people, was living for the weekend. I was in a job that wasn’t fulfilling, was single, and as a result would wish the week away for the weekend to be able to enjoy life. Years later, things changed. I got married, we had two little boys, I left that career behind and became an attorney, but not everything changed. I still lived for the weekend. But even worse, often the stress of small children combined with not getting out on weekends made me wish Monday would hurry up and come.

Madness, right? Of course, I recognized this conundrum immediately. If I waited all week for the weekend, but then by lunch time on Saturday wished it was time to go back to work, something was truly off. That woman from the elevator saw what I was doing, years before I did. When I realized this, I try to be more aware of today.

I hope that I can help you do the same. On that note, here are some suggestions:

1. Practice Mindfulness
Be aware of your surroundings and your actions. When you are eating take the time to reflect on what you are eating, and appreciate it. When you are walking, take your surroundings in, including sounds, and reflect on those surroundings. Enjoy them. If you are spending time with family, focus on that and appreciate it – don’t think of what is next or what you would rather be doing, but focus on the now. I recently had the idea of doing a mindfulness journel, which I plan on starting this week, to hold myself accountable to really practice mindfulness. I will keep you posted on where that leads.

2. Get outside!

Sure it’s only March 14th and, depending on where you live, may be really cold. It’s about 34 degrees here, but the sun is shining! That sounds like enough to get me outside. We all know the benefits of being outside. We are meant to be outside! Deep down, we all know this.

Being outside can help you with item #1 – being mindful. Take a look at that link in the last paragraph. By leaving the rest of our daily lives behind and connecting with nature, we are practicing mindfulness, even if unintentional. And to get a benefit without trying, if you ask me, is a great thing.

3. Accomplish something

If you want to get the most out of today, accomplish something. It can be something large or small. It can be a new creation, progress on an existing project, or even the elimination of a task that you have been putting off for a long time. The feeling of a productive day will not only be satisfying, but it should keep you from thinking “maybe one day I will get that thing done”.

Remember, it doesn’t have to be something big, but just something that satisfies you and something today.

The remaining .14? Take the first step of a week-long initiative

Thinking about the future is not a bad thing. In fact, many things you embark on are not going to be completed today, just by virtue of the nature of the task. Think of a project or task that you can accomplish in one week – no more. What would you have to do each day to finish that?

Make a list of what would be required each day to finish that task or goal. Obviously, you should have 7 items on your list. Each represents approximately 14% (or 0.14) of that project. Take that first step. Complete the first item – today. Item #2 can wait until tomorrow. Don’t even think about item #2 until tomorrow. Today, the first item is enough.

What about you? Have you ever had the constant realization that you were wishing your life away? What did you do about? What would you do today to make the most of it? Please share in the comments.

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Image: Creative Commons via Jorel314 on Flickr]

{ 4 comments… add one }

  • Barb Raveling March 15, 2013 at 4:40 pm

    Love all your ideas here. I, too, have a tendency to wish my life way. One of the things that is helping me change that is to focus on just being thankful for what I have.

    I especially like your “get outside” idea. I’ve been doing that with writing since it’s warmed up. When I get to a section I don’t know how to write, I go outside and work in the garden a bit while thinking through my writing problem. It’s good for writing and good for my outlook on life.!

    Reply edit
  • Patrick March 15, 2013 at 8:06 pm

    Barbara — I am glad to hear that you found this post useful. I know that now that I am trying to write more, I will be finding myself outside more probably to clear my head and get ideas. Best of luck to you.

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  • Justin March 19, 2013 at 1:29 am

    Great post. It’s difficult not to feel stuck and start wishing our lives away when the changes we want to make seem so big. The key is to realize that small changes add up, and by being grateful, we realize that maybe the changes we need aren’t that big after all.

    Reply edit
    • Patrick March 19, 2013 at 1:59 am

      Justin – Thanks for the visit and thanks for stopping by. I agree, there is a lot to be said about the small steps. I am looking forward to reading more of your blog as well. Take care – Patrick

      Reply edit

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