Preparation for Busy Days

October 27, 2008

Mondays are especially busy days for me. This 4-week boot camp session is extra early, so I wake up at 5am, go to boot camp from 5:30-6:30, race home to change and shower before walking the hour to work, work 9am-4:30pm, then walk back home for a quick bit to eat before walking the 15 minutes-ish to school for my class from 6-9pm. It’s a lot of moving about and gives me very little time to gather my things together before I switch from one activity to the next!

Because of this, I’ve learned the art of preparing everything the night before. I set out 2 sets of clothes on Sunday evening (one for boot camp, one for work), pack my lunch and school books, and get a snack prepared and set it in the fridge to take for my evening class. This saves me tons of time in the morning! I can sometimes even check out what’s going on in blogland early in the morning by looking at some of your wonderful pages between boot camp and work:)

Figuring out your schedule and understanding which days are the busy ones can be an enormous help for arranging your time wisely. Take a look at your calendar or agenda book, sort out which days you seem to be moving non-stop, and think about the different ways that you can help yourself out on those days. Even the little things, like deciding what you’ll eat for breakfast in the morning and laying it on the table (PB2, a tablespoon, and an espresso cup to mix it in for my pre-workout snack!), can save you from rushing around to complete all of these little details. No matter how minute the task, those are precious seconds that add up really quickly! You know how they say that you can gain or lose 10 lbs in a year simply by increasing or decreasing your caloric intake by 100 calories a day? It’s like that. Something so little that you won’t even seem to notice it, but your body sure will- and you will definitely appreciate it when you’re running out the door in the morning!

The key to all of this is to think about your day as a whole: what will you be doing and therefore requiring for the day tomorrow? Only thinking about the time period from waking up until noon can undermine the whole point of preparation if you haven’t thought about the afternoon and evening. That’s why I make my snack for Monday’s evening class on Sunday night. Sometimes it will just be to chop up a couple carrots or to put an apple in my bag, but the idea is that you are thinking ahead. When you have already made your decision about what you will do, then you won’t have to agonize about it later when you likely have many other things on your mind (by the way, you can do this to force yourself to exercise if you need some extra motivation, too! Don’t give yourself a chance to consider the option; instead, just pack your water bottle and gym bag and know that you will be doing it at a certain time).

Planning on going out tomorrow evening? Check your wallet right now and make sure you’ve got cash in there. No need to worry about how you are going to have to make a stop at the bank between the commute from work to your house! I’ve already got tomorrow’s theater tickets tucked in my purse so that I don’t forget about them. On Sunday evenings in particular I also like to put all of my bags by the front door, have my toiletries pulled out of the cupboards and sitting on the bathroom counter, and to keep my keys and cell phone in the same pockets in my purse so I know where to find them. It just makes the routine of boot camp-home-work-home-school-home that much easier!

What are your tips and preparations to simplify your day and make it stress-free?


  1. Sagan this is JUST what I do.

    My life is hectic with the added bonus of having little predictable routine. So whenever I get a free moment at home I think through the next couple of days (literally hour by hour) and then pack enough stuff in the boot of my car for every eventuality. It sounds extreme but it gives me peace of mind!

    TA x

  2. Wow! You are busy! Preparation and time to relax. I need 30 minutes to do nothing prior to my 5am work out. Stay strong!

  3. This is exactly how I was when I was working. It was essential to be organized so I didn’t waste any time running around looking for keys or phone, etc.
    Now that I’m not working outside the home, the organization has slackened a little. But I still keep a list of things I need to do. Helps me stay on track with the chores.

  4. i always make sure I have at least one piece of fruit and a Fiber One bar or bag of oatmeal packed in my bag in case I’m stranded somewhere and don’t want to spend $10 on a bagel sandwich. I also keep a day planner that opens up to the month at-a-glance and write down everything, from “remember to email so and so” to “9am interview – she is calling you.” I don’t keep a calender in my phone because I’m terrified of losing it!

  5. I do that all the time!

  6. TA- exactly, it’s all about the peace of mind! Even if it does sound extreme sometimes:)

    Mark- I don’t think I could bring myself to wake up quite that early!

    Bag Lady- the problem comes about when you lose the lists. I have a bad habit of losing my lists. It drives me crazy.

    Leslie- I write down silly things like that in my agenda book, too. But it helps! And I need to start keeping an apple stashed in my bag again…

  7. EVERY day is very busy for me – heavily scheduled. Your comments are excellent, and prove the point: failing to plan is planning to fail.

    Since I don’t take too well to not having food to eat, after I left my lunch in the fridge (yes I make my lunch the night before) one time too many, I learned to put my car keys inside my lunch bag. Presto – no more forgotten lunches!

  8. This is close to what I do – I check the weather for the week and pick out my outfits and have them ironed on Sunday afternoons. Plus I keep my gym bag always packed – you never know!

  9. Two things that have really helped me feel on top of my week are both food-related. The first is that on Sunday I cook a big batch of something to take to work for lunch all week. Last week I made peanut-chicken to take with lettuce wraps, this week it’s a spicy pork and broccoli dish. Then at night I pack it up so in the morning I just have to throw it in my bag. The second thing is switching to cold-pressed coffee. I made a batch whenever one runs out and then way there is coffee concentrate ready in the fridge so in the morning I just have to pour it in a glass with some water and I have a delicious coffee without needing to brew it. Lately I have been infusing it with cardamom and cinnamon and it’s really delicious – a great way to start my morning.

  10. It helps me to have my workout wear (shirt, pants, sports bra and socks) for each day grouped together so that each night, I just have to grab the next “bundle” and stuff it in my gym bag and add whichever workout shoes the next day’s workout requires.

    Planning is important, but I also have the added luxury of living near my office so I can usually run home if I forget anything. πŸ™‚

  11. Thinking ahead of time is really a good thing. I find myself sometimes not doing that, and fall into the trap of forgetting things.

    But I must say, good job with the Boot Camp! It sound so intense!

  12. You’ll be all set when you have kids… sounds like you’re super organized.

    here’s a couple things I do. On Sunday nights I prep lunches for the week. I lay out a whole bunch of plastic containers/zip lock bags and fill them with whatever we’re having for lunch for the week. That way I’m not doing the same thing every morning. It makes packing 3 lunches a day 5 days a week a bit easier. I also put in the car things I’ll need for the week. For example I know this week is Halloween dress up week at The Little Miss’ school so I got her costume ready and in the car last night so it’s ready. We’re going to a friends house tomorrow so I packed extra clothes and jammies for her and they’re in the car and the present for the party on Wednesday…all in the car. that way I don’t have to think about it during the week. It’s a lot of little things that add up to a lot of time savings.

  13. Gharkness- that’s a great idea! Can’t leave the house without your keys:)

    Missicat- weather is a big issue. Especially when it gets all cold!

    Sally- those lunches sound delicious! It must be very nice to wake up and have the coffee all ready for you, too.

    Cammy- it’s always useful to live close to where you work. Just makes everything so much more convenient. And I also have mine in a little “bundle” as well, perched in the same place each day:)

    Sharon- I find it especially difficult when I’ve got lots on my mind! Much easier to not have to think about those things so your minds all freed up to think about other things.

    Big Girl- that’s some good organization skills you’ve got! And such a good idea to get the week’s worth of lunches out of the way like that.

  14. Im like you.

    I NEED to set myself up for success and get it all planned and together the night before (especially with toddlerintow).
    my husband? the opposite.
    he plans nothing and is the proverbial CHICKEN WITH HIS HEAD CUT OFF that morning/day.
    I cant do that.

  15. Multi-tasking “R” You!

    In med. school, some days I would shave the night before to save a few minutes πŸ™‚ (Remember, I’m a guy!)

  16. Ahhh, this week is pure hell for me, in terms of stress levels – I’m totally sympathizing with you, girl!! And I’m reaping the benefits of all the tips above :0)

  17. i love your tips – this is what i do every night! i have everything ready the night before so i can just wake up and do what i need to do and go πŸ™‚

  18. Wow, Sagan, I am so impressed with your organizational skills. You go girl! It seems the busier I am, the more I plan for the day/days ahead; but when I have more time on my hands, I seem to waste it more. I hope my husband (25 years together today!) reads your blog, he can use a few of those tips πŸ˜‰

    #1 Fan

    p.s. bag lady encouraged me to send my 1st comment

  19. MizFit- I can’t do that either! I don’t like being rushed.

    Dr. J- that’s hilarious! And a pretty good idea, too…

    Veggiegirl- aw, I hope that you can deal with the stress okay!

    Loveofoats- it’s a nice way to start the day, having everything all ready, isn’t it?

    Anonymous- hahaha. HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!

  20. Wow, you’re a busy bee!
    I completely agree about planning ahead. If I didn’t everything, I mean EVERYTHING would get completely pear-shaped.

    You’re such an inspiration.

  21. I do the same, except I prep my food from the beginning of the week. I already have tomorrow and thursday’s snacks all ready to go and bagged up in my fridge, as well as lunch for the rest of the week.

    also, i pack my gym bag the night before, ALWAYS.

  22. Ya’ll are amazing at organization. I’m big on making sure I always have healthy foods stocked in my purse (I carry a big purse — lol), and always make sure a bag of workout clothes is packed in my care — just in case! πŸ™‚

  23. Dee- planning is fun:)

    Rhodeygirl- your organization skills are super admirable!

    Jenn- like the idea of keeping the gym bag in the car just in case. I keep my yoga mat and a set of weights in the trunk!

  24. Excellent advice, Sagan! If I were getting up as early as you do for boot camp, I’d definitely be laying out EVERYTHING I needed the night before. I wouldn’t want to be stumbling around and searching for things that early if I didn’t have to!

    You walk an hour to work every day? Go, girl ! πŸ™‚

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