Out With The Old, In With The New: Don’t Waste a Day

Throughout the month of December, The Simple Dollar is posting a daily series focusing on specific activities you can do right now to set the stage for a great 2011. Out with the old, in with the new.

26. Don’t waste a day.

An awful lot of you are spending this day after Christmas doing things like traveling or resting after spending the last few days with family members. More than a few of you are probably reading this at an airport, waiting for a flight to take off.

It’s going to be very tempting to spend this day simply doing very little. Why not take a nap during your flight, or just stare at the in-flight movie? Why not veg out in front of the television or idly surf on your laptop?

Instead, I suggest that you spend today taking care of things that need to be taken care of in your life.

Instead of napping during your in-flight movie, use a notebook and a pen to to a brain dump of all of the things on your mind, then transform that into an actionable to-do list.

Instead of kicking back in front of the television, utilize today to get your papers in order or clean out your pantry.

Instead of idly surfing the web, take a serious look at various online bank accounts, sign up for one, and start moving some of your savings there.

Yes, yes, I know many of you are going to simply say, “Uh, I need this time to relax.” It doesn’t sound like fun to spend time doing stuff like this, especially after the stress and energy burn of the holiday season.

I agree – one should relax after a stressful or energy-sapping event. However, spending a day just relaxing usually ends up with a much worse effect – you find you don’t have as much energy the following day, either. You don’t want to go back to work. You’re depressed at the things left undone. You feel less initiative in the evenings after work.

So, here’s what I propose: spend an hour doing something deeply relaxing. Get a massage. Take a nap. Spend some intimate time with your partner. Take a jog. Do some yoga or some stretches. Meditate. Do whatever it is that most intensely relaxes you.

Once that’s done, spend the rest of the day tackling what you need to do. Yes, you may have family or social engagements, but they likely won’t take up the whole day. Spend the rest of it taking care of the things you need to get done.

What will happen is you’ll go to bed tonight with the warm glow of having actually accomplished some things and that healthy sense of actually being tired because of the effort you put out. One day at a time, you’ll move towards being more productive – making your leisure and relaxation time actually be leisure and relaxation (and not just idling) and the rest of your time productive and fulfilling.

For me, a day well lived is a day where I go to bed tired from the things I’ve done that day, not merely tired because my biological clock tells me I should be tired.

Strive to achieve that today – then strive to achieve that tomorrow, and the day after that.

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