“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; you shall begin it well and serenely…” — Ralph Waldo Emerson
This post is a wrap up of the Toolbox steps from the book, “The Change Your Life Challenge” by Brook Noel. If you need a refresher on what this challenge is, you can it out here.
Brook Noel introduces this toolbox step by saying, “An effective evening routine allows us to recap, release stress, and give thanks for the day while also preparing for the day ahead.” I hope she is right. This could be really useful in my life right now.
Part One: The Preparation of the Nightly Reflection
I only have a few items that I have not yet used from the original supply list. These items will be coming into play in this toolbox step. The items are two expanding folders and six 9″x12″ paper envelopes.
The first thing I did was figure out what I needed to print. These worksheets are available for free download here. My copies (as you will see in the pictures below) are were printed in black-and-white because I was running low on color ink so I improvised. I apologize for the lack of color, but it is what it is.
If you download the worksheets from the link above, they are in color. In fact, they are color coded.
- Pink = Active Tasks
- Blue = Power Hour
- Purple = Short-Term
- Green = Financial
I assure you that the next batch of worksheets I print will be in color. These just might get posted on Instagram for you to see the update.
Then I taped the worksheets to the envelopes and added what dates I needed to. The expanding folders also got labeled.
Keeping It Together
It is important to the process that I keep these envelopes and the Headquarters that I made in the Getting Started Step #4. Check out the post above to see my headquarters. These things will usually stay at home and not wander around with you while you are out and about. That is what your “CAN” (Catch-All-Notebook is for. So you need to find a home for these items. I choose to keep them all in a nice wire mesh file box. I think that this will work well for me.
Part Two: The Nightly Reflection Routine
The next step is to pick a time each evening to complete the Night Reflection. Brook does it each night after dinner while her daughter does homework. Since my kids are homeschooled, there really isn’t an evening homework time at our house. I still think that after the dinner cleanup process would be a good time for me to add this step in. This is something I am already up doing things anyway, so grabbing the file basket and getting to work should be no big deal.
Sort Through the Catch-It Collections
I will take everything out of my Catch-It Collector Envelope and sort as follows:
I will write down all of my purchases on the outside worksheet of the financial envelope. If I need to keep the receipt for any reason like a possible return or for tax time, I will put the receipt inside the envelope. Otherwise, I add the receipt to a shred pile.
For this one, I will record the bill and the date due on the correct financial worksheet and add only the bill and return envelope (if necessary) to the correct envelope. I know which envelope to use based on when the bill is due. This step might not take much time because I pay as many bills online as I can. Some of our household bills even have an app I can use on my iPhone.
It is suggested in the book that online bankers (like myself) make a separate financial worksheet for automatic payments. That way I would have a better picture of everything that is coming out and when.
Anything that I want to read I need to place in the “To Read” file. Brook suggests that to keep this file from getting too bulky, rip out the articles I want to read and recycle the rest of the magazine. I think that is a good tip.
This is the one exception to the what I said above about these envelopes staying at home. I can take this envelope/file with me if I have an appointment or event where I will be waiting. I can see this as very useful on Thursday nights when my son is at Taekwondo.
Other people’s papers:
If I have anything that needs to be given to another family member inside the household, I put it in the correct place for them to find it. In my case, that would be a box hanging on the wall with our control center in the kitchen. Anything that I have to give to someone outside of my household would be added to the Active Task envelope so that I remember to give it to them.
Sort The Rest Of The Paper Into One Of The Following Envelopes:
Active Task Envelope:
If I come across a paper as I am sorting that needs to be referenced this week or the following one, I put it in the correct envelope according to the date. Then I need to write down a summary of this paper on the worksheet taped to the front of that envelope including the due date. I would not do this if it needs to go into one of the other two envelopes listed below, however.
Power Hour Items:
Anything that I will complete during an upcoming Power Hour will be placed inside this envelope with a brief description of the paper on the worksheet on the front of the envelope. This will help me have a running list of items the next time I complete a Power Hour.
If I come across a piece of paper that does not fit into one of the above two categories but needs to be done before the date on the Short-Term List, then I would add it to this envelope. Just like with the others, a short description would go on the worksheet on the front of the envelope along with any due date. If a particular item doesn’t have a due date, then I will just write “Flex” down and I can create a due date when I complete future planning.
The last envelope/file that has not been mentioned yet, is the “To File”. envelope. I am to think of this envelope as a “To File” (obviously) and a “Review” envelope. The things that go into this envelope are items that are not relevant to the short-term.
All of the other envelopes are current actions that need to be acted upon in the short-term. These actions have a home since all current actions require that I:
- act on it
- give it to someone else
- read it
- pay it
- track it
I will review the “To File” contents on a monthly basis and transfer any items that need to be put into other envelopes. Any remaining contents get filed or remain for the next month’s review.
This program groups all paper, goals, actions & tasks into three categories:
- Active: relevant to the current week
- Short-Term: relevant to the next 60 days
- Long-Term: relevant to longer than 60 days from today
Brook says in her book that, “Looking too far into the future is like driving by looking at a map instead of the road. While a map may be necessary, the point is to consult the map from time to time, and then return your eyes to the road. The active group is the road, the Short-Term is like a regional map, and the Long-Term is a national map. Daily we focus on the road, weekly we consult the regional map, monthly we consult the big map.”
Evening Routine Step By Step
PROCESS THE CATCH-IT COLLECTORS:
This is always the first step of the Nightly Reflection. That way I won’t get distracted by what is inside the other envelopes instead of using the worksheets on the front as a quick reference.
TRANSFER THE ACTIVE TASK LIST IN THE CATCH-ALL NOTEBOOK:
Skipping down about five lines in my Catch-All Notebook and draw a line. I then write down the date for tomorrow. Then I review my Active Task List in my Catch-All Notebook crossing off or highlighting anything I have completed. Everything that is left is then transferred to the new day that I just created a few minutes prior. Rewriting this list is important to keep from overlooking anything, it keeps items fresh on my mind and it helps us see what tasks have been on the list too long and are ready for an Ugly Day. I then move the binder clip if I need to so that I can easily find the right date.
REVIEW THE ACTIVE TASK ENVELOPE:
The next thing I do is review my Active Task Envelope. If there is anything I need to handle tomorrow then they will be added to my CAN.
DECIDE IF YOU WILL HOLD A POWER HOUR TOMORROW:
I check my Power Hour worksheet to see if I need to hold a Power Hour the next day. One may already be scheduled in my planner. Any undone items from a previous Power Hour need to be done first.
CREATE YOUR THREE-STEP ACTION LIST:
Once I have reviewed & collected all of my active information, I can use that to make my 3-Step Action List. I use a lined Post-It note for this list. My list is kept stuck to the front cover of my CAN.
GIVING THANKS FOR THE DAY:
“Gratitude turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” — Melody Beattie. This quote is the exact reason to have a gratitude journal. I will be recording 5 things that I am grateful for each day. These things go on the 5 lines that I left blank in my CAN in today’s space.
MAKE TODAY MATTER:
After filling out my five gratitude items, I ask myself, “Is there anything else I want to choose to do to make today matter?” I then see if there is anything, even little things, that I would still like to do today that could move me forward in one of the areas on my “Snap Shot” that needs attention.
CLOSE THE SHOP:
At this point, I have done everything that I could for the day. I have to let go of any undone tasks or expectations that weren’t reached. Tomorrow is a new day and it is time for a fresh start.