3 Ways You Can Make Tomorrow Better, Today
None of us know for sure what tomorrow will bring, so many self-help gurus advise us to ‘stay in the moment’ and not waste our time today worrying about what's to come.
For the most part, I think they’re on to something. As a person who is incredibly prone to anxiety and overthinking, worrying about tomorrow is dangerously close to being a sport for me, so teachings that tell me to leave the future alone and just focus on the now can be pretty helpful.
We worry about tomorrow like it’s promised.
It's a slightly morbid sentiment, but I think we all get where it's going, right?
The thing is, whilst worrying too much about tomorrow can indeed be unhealthy and draining, I’m not convinced by the idea that we should just leave tomorrow alone completely. Though we can’t make tomorrow into a perfect image of what we want, we can lay the groundwork for it to be a great day before we actually live it.
For me, preparing for tomorrow to be better than today is a ritual that not only helps to actually make tomorrow better, but also helps fill me with a sense of excitement and purpose for the day ahead, even before my head has his the pillow the night before.
There are loads of ways you can prepare for tomorrow to be a great day. Here's 3 of my favorite.
1. Visualize What You Want to Achieve as You Fall Asleep
This is a parent special, and one that has massively helped me to combat my natural laziness. It also turns out to be a well-established and thoroughly studied psychological phenomenon, so way to go Mum!
Visualization is the practice of, well, visualizing your goals and how you intend on achieving them. It’s a popular technique among athletes and sportspeople, but it can also be just as effective for helping us meer mortals achieve our aims too.
The idea is that visualization can embed ideas and thoughts into our subconscious minds which then help our conscious selves work towards our goals. Think of it like programming commands into a computer and then letting it run in the background. That’s pretty much what visualization does to our subconscious.
Visualization can absolutely be used in the short term, like just before a meeting or in the few minutes leading up to a race, but when using it as a tool to make tomorrow a better day, I like to use it in the evening, usually as I’m lying in bed, drifting off to sleep.
I have found that by visualizing what I plan to achieve the following day, I can reduce the amount of stress and trepidation I feel in the mornings when a day of work is ahead of me. I also find that it helps me keep up my motivation and productivity during the day.
Rather than deciding how to spend my time after I wake up each day, by visualizing my goals and aims for tomorrow every evening, my personal schedule for the day is already embedded in my mind as soon as I wake up, making it a lot easier to follow.
Of course, you don’t want to let visualization affect your ability to sleep. Personally, I find it quite relaxing and often drift off as I’m going through the plans for the following day, but I know that others can find it hard to switch off once they starting thinking about scheduling and work.
As with all things mental health-related, it’s important to go with whatever works best for you.
2. Tidy Your Room and Workspace in the Evening, Ready for the Day Ahead
I know this might sound like I’m quoting directly from the ever-controversial Jordan Peterson, but this is actually another tip that I picked up from my dear parental units.
Messiness and clutter are known to contribute to stress and life dissatisfaction, with the negative effects of disorder appearing to worsen with age. Being surrounded by clutter can affect our ability to remain focused and work effectively, leading to procrastination, which is proven to lead to further disorganisation, creating a vicious cycle of underachievement and mess.
There is a certain amount of phycological pleasure to be gained from being in clean, ordered surroundings. It’s one of the reasons why home makeover and organization shows are so popular, like Marie Kondo’s ‘Tidying up’. Cleanliness makes an environment easy to be in and allows us to more effectively concentrate on the task at hand, be that work or just simple relaxation.
How can this make tomorrow better than today?
Whilst newly organized spaces can be enjoyed as soon as they have been cleaned, waking up in a neat room and going to work in a well-kept office first thing in the morning allows us to make the most of that new-day clean slate. Without any stressful distractions, like mess, we can get straight down to business without cluttering our fresh morning minds with instant stress about needing to tidy up.
There have been times in my life where I was waking up in messy rooms and working in disorganized offices, and my mental health and productivity both suffered because of it.
Now, every evening, I organize my desk and try to make sure things are where they need to be for me to effectively start my day right the following morning. Oh, and I also make the bed after I wake up (I know that's one of Peterson’s too, sorry!)
3. Keep a Diary/Journal and Always Have It at Hand
Journaling is something of a trend these days, and it’s a pretty good one. According to the University of Rochester Medical Center, journaling can help:
- Manage anxiety
- Reduce stress
- Cope with depression
Journaling can help us to prioritize our problems and give us an opportunity to reflect on our lives and identify negative thoughts or behaviors. By writing down our thoughts and feelings, we solidify them in reality and distance ourselves from them, allowing us to more effectively approach problems and formulate solutions.
But this is all old news, right? Everyone knows about journaling.
I also think you should keep a diary. Not the thoughts and feelings kind, the date and time kind.
My mental health and productivity both improved when I started keeping a detailed diary. It provided structure to my life and allowed me to fill my time with confidence, knowing that I wouldn’t be double booking myself or putting too much on my plate.
Having a visual representation of your commitments is an excellent way to judge if you’re spreading yourself too thin and by looking back through a diary, you can get a long-term view of what things are taking up the most of your time. Cost/benefit analysis on how you spend your time becomes so much easier, which means you can focus your efforts on the things that really matter and which you gain the most out of.
For me, this massively reduced my stress levels, not just because I knew what was coming up tomorrow, but because it gave me a feeling of security in my schedule. Sure, plans change and things come up out of the blue, but with a diary, those become blips to be worked around calmly, rather than spikes in an already chaotic schedule.
Look at your diary throughout the day to get a sense of what’s coming up, and be sure to add every relevant appointment to it in order to maximize benefits. Also, I like to leave my diary open on my desk at night, ready for the next day. That way, the first thing I see in the morning is a solid plan for the day.
I find it helps me start my day right. Perhaps it could help you too.
Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift. That is why it is called the present
This is one of my favorite quotes of all time, and I remind myself of it regularly when trying to ensure that I am focusing on the right things, at the right time.
Some of you might have noticed that this quote is actually from none other than the wise old tortoise, Master Oogway, of Kung Fu Panda fame.
What can I say? Wisdom can come from all sorts of strange places.
Regardless of the source, the sentiment is still a good one. We can only absolutely control what we do today, but while tomorrow might still be a mystery, we can use the gift of today to try and set the future up to be as good as possible.
- Visualize what you want to achieve as you fall asleep
- Tidy your room and workspace in the evening, ready for the day ahead
- Keep a diary/journal and always have it to hand
These three strategies can help you to leverage your power over today in order to secure a better tomorrow. They work for me, and I hope they will work for you.