How to Reclaim Your Day

More often than not, we let the day control us. What can give us peace of mind, however, is regaining ownership over our lives and being intentional about how we spend our days. Here are a few lessons I learned that helped me reclaim my day and get back into the driver’s seat of my life. Follow these steps for how to reclaim your day.

How to Reclaim Your Day

“Make a list of what makes you happy and compare it to what you’re actually doing every day. Adjust accordingly.” 

When I did this exercise, I immediately realized why I had been feeling so drained and anxious: I was living on autopilot, going from work, to class, to the library day after day, feeling productive, but not fulfilled. Quite simply, I wasn’t finding my days to be enjoyable or energizing. After writing out my lists, I realized that things that me happy were missing from my everyday reality: having breakfast on my back patio and taking a walk outside, making a cup of tea and sitting on my couch to relax for 15 minutes without my computer, moving my body and going to yoga, cooking dinner and dancing in the car with my friend, Annelise. Guess how many of these things I was actually doing? Zero. Zilch. None. Nada.

It’s easy to get caught up in our routine, going from point A to point B mindlessly. Once in awhile it helps to not only stop and reflect on what makes us happy, but also to prioritize those things within our day. (Even if it’s as simple as waking up 15 minutes earlier just to make a cup of tea.)

So, what makes you happy? How often are you doing it, if at all?

Wake Up on the Right Side of the Bed:

Here’s what my mornings used to look like (don’t judge):

  1. Set alarm for 8:00 am.
  2. Wake up and look at my phone to turn off my alarm.
  3. Cringe at the number of emails and messages I already need to respond to.
  4. Avoid real life and press snooze.
  5. Get out of bed 15 minutes later and freak out because I only have 30 minutes to get to work.
  6. Frantically get ready.
  7. Almost forget to grab a protein bar from the pantry.
  8. Rush to work.

Talk about waking up on the wrong side of the bed. If that was how I was getting my day started, how could I expect to be in any kind of good mood for the rest of the day? After reflecting on my “happy list,” I realized that an enjoyable morning would mean waking up calmly so I could enjoy a relaxed breakfast on the back porch in the sun, a leisurely walk downtown to wake my body up, or a cup of warm jasmine green tea on the couch before the day got started.

I also started turning off my data and wi-fi before I went to bed so I didn’t wake up to a bunch of emails and messages. Seeing those messages first thing in the morning immediately put me in work mode and wasn’t contributing to a healthy work life integration whatsoever. Also, by giving myself more time in the mornings to wake up and get ready, I was no longer feeling rushed or stressed about getting to class or work on time from the second my alarm went off because my morning belonged to me: It was my gift to myself. Overall, I learned that waking up on the right side of the bed meant having a relaxed morning to myself and reclaiming my day with a newfound peace of mind before the rest of the day took over.

What’s the first thing you did when you woke up today?

Have Something at the End of Your Day to Look Forward To:

Monday morning blues are a real thing for me…until it’s Bachelor season of course, which means Monday nights are the best night of the week. I know we may not all be Bachelor fans, but having something to look forward to and get excited about keeps us energized throughout the day. So, whether it’s a TV show, a dinner date with your roommate, or a Skype session you have planned with a friend on the opposite coast, always try to have a light (or Ben Higgins) at the end of your day’s tunnel!

What are you looking forward to today?

Reframe Your Responsibilities:

“Ugh. I have to send that email, then I have to do laundry and go to the grocery store. I also have to call my mom and then I have to study, but first I have to eat something!” Sound familiar? By using this kind of language, we are reinforcing that our days are controlling us by being filled with things we have to do.

Instead, we can see these responsibilities and tasks as things we are actively choosing to do. This language signals to our brains that we are in control of our actions and that we are freely choosing to do things by our own volition.

Now our days are not controlling us. Instead, we are controlling our days and appreciating the opportunities they present for us to be productive and infuse our lives with meaning.

What are you choosing to do today?

Reflect on Your Daily Habits:

Take a few minutes to jot down notes on a piece of paper as you reflect on the following questions:*

  • Describe your typical weekday morning in detail:
    • What’s the first thing you do?
    • How do you feel when you wake up?
    • Are you rushed or relaxed?
  • Describe your current health habits:
    • What do you typically eat and drink?
    • Do you eat on the go or are you sitting with others?
    • What do you do to move your body?
  • Describe your typical weekday evening:
    • What habits have you built around the time you eat dinner, your bedtime routine, or your use of technology?
    • How do you normally feel falling asleep and waking up?

Reclaiming your day starts today. It’s time to work on closing the gap between our ideal day and our current reality.

How do you reclaim your day?

By Tallia Deljou for Mavenly + Co, a community of young women having honest conversations about college, career and life and helping them create a lifestyle by their own design.

Image via Crush Cul de Sac. Daily habit exercise adapted from Habit Self-Reflection Exercise by Jocelyn Courtney.

22 Responses to How to Reclaim Your Day

  1. Jordyn says:

    This piece offers so much great insight on creating a day that makes you happy. I definitely want to practice the exercise of writing down things that make me happy and working to incorporate them into my day more often.

  2. Sara Kate says:

    Such a great post. That first sentence was crucial!! I love that idea of making a list of what makes you happy. It really does make all the difference to have something to look forward to, even if it’s small.

    Sara Kate Styling

    • Elana Lyn Gross says:

      Thank you! The exercise was really helpful for me. Even something small like getting into bed a little earlier to make more time to read makes a difference.

  3. Anna says:

    I like the idea of waking up with something to look forward to. It makes the day go by faster!
    -Anna |

  4. Alex says:

    What an awesome perspective! I know I am definitely a “have to” kind of person, but as I get older, my views are starting to change and starting to become more positive!

  5. Jenny says:

    I really need to start getting a true morning routine. The only consistent thing about my mornings is that I get on my computer for a few minutes prior to leaving…but I don’t want to wake up and feel rushed anymore.

    xoxo, Jenny

    • Elana Lyn Gross says:

      I’m glad this post inspired you to start a morning routine. My morning routine sets the tone for the entire day!

  6. Cristina says:

    Love this post! I’m definitely feeling drained by the end of my work day and I think it’s because I’m trying so hard to be “productive” that I’m not allowing time to do things that I actually love. Gonna change that with a zumba class tonight!


  7. Savannah says:

    I love this perspective, its so refreshing!

  8. Such a great post! I always make sure to get my things ready for the next day the night before, and then I’ve gotten good at not pressing the snooze button. Small steps, but they really help to start my day out right!

    Kayla || Keynotes from Kay

  9. Ashley says:

    This is such a great post. I definitely have mornings where getting out of bed is tough. This is a refreshing take for making the best of every day.

    Thanks babe!

    xo Ashley

  10. Mindy says:

    Listing out what makes you happy is so great! Sometimes ou get stuck in a rut and being able to reference all that you have to be thankful for is a great pick me up. Xoxo Mindy

  11. I am a morning person, so I start my day before most of the people I know are up. However, I find that I am also done for the day long before they are ready to call it a night. I find myself bailing on a lot of friend activities because I need to sleep. I need to find a better balance. Maybe I need to start napping!!

  12. Amy says:

    Thanks for the great tips! I always look forward to breakfast in the morning, it’s my favorite meal of the day!!
    Amy | Pastel N Pink

  13. Tiffani says:

    This was probably one of the best posts I’ve ever seen. I did the exercise and I can totally see where I need to improve in my life! It is so easy to get wrapped up in being busy that you forget to actually live YOUR life. Thank you for this!

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