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Six Must-Do’s for Your Evenings

Preparing well. That’s what the evening routine is all about.

I know, I know! That sounds like more work. And you’re thinking “I just got done with all of the laundry/work/chores/everything by the evening. I don’t want to do more.

Preparing well can serve you well that evening and it sets you up to be able to cultivate what really matters the following day. When you are cultivating what matters, you positively impact everything about your life and everyone in it.

Before we jump in, let me say this: everyone’s night routine looks different depending on your life, but the key is to find what works for you and cultivate those habits each day. Consistency creates habits that ultimately determine the flow of your everyday life, and an evening routine is a great place to start. I'm excited to share six must-dos for my evenings, and I hope it helps you start to think through your own personal evening routine.

Something to straighten up. For me, it’s the kitchen. If the kitchen is straightened up—dishes in the dishwasher, clutter-free counter, things put away—it's much easier for me to relax. Take a quick few minutes to pass through your space, and put away random things that need to be put away. After you're finished, set out only what you will need for the morning. For me, it's a packed lunch to take to work, water bottle for an AM workout, or a sticky note of things to remember for the following day!

Something to help you plan ahead. Each evening, I spend five minutes running through the next day's calendar to see if there are any schedule changes, high-level to-dos, or something out of the ordinary that my husband and I need to remember. These are things like getting gas on my way to work, running an errand before heading to the office, or picking up something specific at the store for dinner. I write these things down on a sticky note, and I put it somewhere I see first thing in the morning so I can get off to a productive start. I also take a few moments to look over my PowerSheets Tending List to mark off my daily goals.

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Photo by Brooke

Something productive. While I'm going through my schedule, I ask myself if there are any tasks that can easily be done that evening. Whether it's dropping mail in the mailbox, prepping the next day's dinner, signing a document, or folding the lingering laundry in the dryer, I find that finishing one productive task not only helps me feel accomplished, but it keeps it from building up on the weekends. My best advice? Don't try to tackle huge project. These should be small and achievable tasks that take no more than 15 minutes.

Something encouraging. This one is my personal favorite! I try to take a few minutes to do something that encourage myself or someone else. I might write a note for my husband's lunch or send a quick text to a friend or loved one just to say hello and that I miss them. Sometimes, I'll spend time in my Write the Word Journal, taking note of what I'm grateful for in the "On My Heart" section. Whatever it is, this activity should be uplifting and help you set a stress-free tone for the evening. 

Something restful. A great way to wind down before bed is to do something that helps your mind start to slow down. It doesn’t have to be elaborate, but it should be something that works for you. Maybe it’s reading or journaling. Maybe dimming the lights and putting on a bedtime playlist of soft tunes while you brush your teeth and prepare for bed. Whatever it is, the idea here is that it’s calming, relaxing, and creating an environment conducive to getting a great night's sleep!

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Photo by Sarah

Something tech-free. We talk about this one often, but it's because we believe it's essential! Designating the last hour before bedtime screen-free helps you get better sleep. A few tricks: make the very first thing you do before all of the nighttime necessities—brushing your teething, washing your face—putting the phone away. In the closet. In the bedside drawer, or across the room. This not only frees you from distractions but is also a nice mental cap on the end of the day. Hint: If you use your phone as your alarm, try replacing it with an affordable alarm clock. You eliminate the distraction entirely, and you can charge your phone in a nearby room.

 I’d love to hear from you! Do you have an evening routine? What are the best aspects of your night routine? Leave a comment with your best tips and tricks!

Want to embrace mornings and make them productive, too? Check out eight tips for embracing mornings!

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Goal Action Ideas for Career Goals

Did you know, on average, people spend 1/3 of their lives at work? Hearing that statistic for the first time in high school surprised me, but since graduating from college and entering the workforce, I've since come to realize it's not all that unrealistic!

Whether you're looking to change careers entirely, get back into the workforce, or better yourself in your current job, we know it's important to maximize your time and your impact in the workplace, wherever it may be or whatever it might look like. We're sharing some goal action ideas for your PowerSheets Tending List to help get your wheels spinning!

While some of these are broad, we hope they serve as inspiration for you and your particular career field. Let us know if you add any of these to your Tending Lists this month!

Monthly Goals

  • Choose graduate programs
  • Apply to graduate school
  • Find a mentor
  • Grow professional network
  • Read a career book
  • Update your resume
  • Update LinkedIn profile
  • Schedule a vacation
  • Take an online course
  • Research jobs and companies
  • Practice interview skills
  • Apply to five jobs
  • Request feedback from your supervisor

Weekly Goals

  • Apply for a new job
  • Prepare for meetings
  • Watch a TED talk
  • Encourage someone in your field doing a great job
  • Speak up in team meetings

Daily Goals

  • Inbox zero
  • Choose your top three priorities for the following day
  • Track time
  • Clean your workspace
  • Show gratitude
  • Review calendar for tomorrow

These are just a few suggestions for items to add to your PowerSheets Tending List each month to make progress on your career goals for the year!

We'd love to hear from you: how do you spend your days, and what else would you add to this list? 

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Goal Action Ideas for Finance Goals

Today we're continuing our Goal Action Ideas series with a Finance edition, supplying you with a bank of ideas for your Tending Lists on that topic. Like all overwhelming things, cultivating a stronger, more streamlined financial life is done through embracing little by little progress, and digging in even when things seem messy. I'd love to hear YOUR ideas, so please drop them in the comments! (In fact, many of the ideas in this post came from awesome PowerSheets users in our Facebook group!)

Though I've loved all of the topics we've covered in this series, I most definitely have a soft spot for today's. First, because I am extremely passionate about the freedom that comes from having your financial house in order, and therefore so happy to be your enthusiastic tour guide in this world. Second, because finances can just be an icky subject–one that feels too complicated, too stuck, too hopeless to make any progress on.

There is SO much hope here, though, friends! As with everything, little by little progress is the name of the game–sometimes with a few big leaps along the way. I've compiled our best action ideas for finance goals below, and I hope it encourages you to dig in where you are!

Monthly Goals:

  • Do a comprehensive review of your finances and set a goal to work toward
  • Sign up for Financial Peace University or a similar personal finance course (PS users suggested Wallet Win!)
  • Read a personal finance book (try Total Money Makeover, The Financial Diet, Love Your Life Not Theirs, or The Millionaire Next Door - or tell us your favorite in the comments!)
  • Make a budget (see our tips here)
  • Choose a way to track your budget (more ideas here - consider an app like YNAB, Mint, Good Budget, or Every Dollar Counts)
  • Set up an initial review meeting with a financial planner (either in person or an online option like Learnvest)
  • Set up a retirement account (either a 401k if offered through your work or an IRA)
  • Total all of your debt, especially if you have multiple sources (this will give you a goal to work toward!)
  • Choose a financial mantra to keep you motivated and post it somewhere you'll see it every day (we suggest your refrigerator)
  • Similarly, choose a picture that represents your biggest financial goal and post it somewhere you'll see it every day
  • Increase your retirement contribution
  • Comb through your expenses from the last month and look for areas where you can cut back
  • Create a visual countdown of your debt and post it prominently where the whole family can see it (more paying down debt tips here)
  • Open a charitable giving account (donor-advised fund) to streamline and maximize your generosity
  • Open an account designated as an emergency fund and seed it with an initial deposit
  • Make a plan to fully fund an emergency fund (most experts recommend three to six months of expenses)
  • Purge your social media accounts: unfollow accounts that contribute to feelings of lack or make you want to spend money!
  • Take our friend Nancy's Contentment Challenge

Weekly Goals:

  • Listen to an episode of a personal finance podcast (Cultivate readers suggested Entreeleadership and Matrimoney!)
  • Sit down with your significant other (or yourself!) and review the week's budget and spending
  • Purge a room of your house (this helps identify waste, cultivate contentment, and curb spending)
  • Update your budget
  • Pay bills
  • Unsubscribe from sales emails
  • Sell something (and put the money toward debt or a savings goal)

Daily Goals:

  • No spending
  • Express gratitude

These are just a few suggestions for items to add to your PowerSheets Tending List each month to make progress on your finance goals for the year!

If you are looking for another great resource for getting started on your financial goals, please allow us to introduce our Finance Goal Guide!

We'd love to hear from you: what else would you add to this list?

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Goal Action Ideas for Business Goals

We're back today with the next edition of our Goal Guide series! We created this series to spotlight one of those topics at a time and create a bank of ideas for your Tending List! Now, when you want to make progress on your big picture goals this year, you can use our Goal Action Plan ideas for inspiration!

In doing some research for this post, I found that the average person spends approximately 90,000 hours at work during their lifetime. And we know many of you might actually be spending more than that since you're operating your own business. Whether you're just getting your feet wet in the entrepreneurial world or you're a seasoned veteran, we know it's important to maximize your time and make sure you spend it well.

This week's topic is one I'm particularly excited about, because I know there are so many of you who own your own your own business! We compiled our best goal action ideas for business owners below, and we hope it encourages you to continue to serve your business (and team, if applicable!) well. Looking for other like-minded business owners to celebrate your progress and use as a sounding board? Head over to our Business Owners Cultivating What Matters Facebook group and introduce yourself in the comments! We'd love to meet you there!

While some of these are broad, we hope they serve as inspiration for you and your particular business. Let us know if you add any of these to your Tending Lists this month!

Monthly Goals

  • Download and fill out PowerSheets Business Owners' Guide
  • Launch new course/offering
  • Attend two networking events
  • Rewrite copy on website
  • Set and meet income goals
  • Read one personal development book
  • Complete business course you purchased
  • Hire a business coach
  • Successfully launch email campaign
  • Purge office
  • Create and implement new system (Be specific here, and don't forget to document the process. This will come in handy when you bring on team members later!)
  • Hire new team member
  • Attend personal development conference . Our personal favorite is the Making Things Happen Conference:)
  • Outsource one area of your business
  • Organize Dropbox documents
  • Make an investment for your business (Here are 10 things Lara invested in for our business that have paid off!)
  • Create editorial calendar
  • Learn QuickBooks and set up a system for bookkeeping
  • Create Asana account (This is a favorite in our office!)

Weekly Goals

  • Write one blog post
  • Connect with a new person
  • Reconcile finances
  • Send email newsletter
  • Plan for the week ahead (Do this on a Friday!)
  • Visit PO Box
  • Watch one module of business development course
  • Simplify or systemize an area of your business
  • Spend 30 minutes organizing and backing up files

Daily Goals

  • Inbox zero (Need some help? Our friend Nancy shares her best Email Ninja tips!)
  • Silence/Meditation
  • Breathe fresh air
  • Pray over your business
  • Post on Instagram
  • Eat lunch away from your desk
  • Engage on social media
  • Process orders
  • Clean your desk
  • Connect with team members
  • Charge your computer mouse and keyboard (This sounds silly, but there's nothing worse than being ready to work and having a dead mouse!)

These are just a few suggestions for items to add to your PowerSheets Tending List each month to make progress on your business  goals for the year!

We'd love to hear from you: what else would you add to this list?

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Goal Action Ideas for Relationship Goals

If we rounded up all the goals set by all the PowerSheets users, I'd venture to guess that cultivating stronger relationships, and specifically stronger relationships with our significant others, would be in the top three. It comes back to that question Lara so wisely steers us toward again and again: where do you want to be when you're 80? Who do you want to be? Who do you want beside you?

Today we're continuing our Goal Action Ideas series with a Relationships edition, supplying you with a bank of ideas for your Tending Lists on that topic. Like all overwhelming things, cultivating a stronger, more joyful marriage or dating relationship is done through embracing little by little progress, and digging in even when things seem messy. I'd love to hear YOUR ideas, so please drop them in the comments!

P.S. We know not everyone is in a relationship right now (and some who aren't might really want to be!). We see you. Happily, many of these goals work for non-romantic relationships, too!

Monthly:

  • Brainstorm TV-free activities to do together
  • Research marriage counseling (not just for "rocky marriages" -- listen to our friend Katelyn!)
  • Get out of the house for a date night
  • Read the same book or article and discuss it together (doesn't have to be marriage-related!)
  • Work through our Goal Guide for Couples
  • Order a yearly photo album or a wedding album, if you haven't done it yet (oops!)
  • Review your finances and set a goal to work toward together
  • Have another couple over for dinner (watching how other couples interact can be so inspiring!)
  • Write out your wedding and marriage story
  • Read one new-to-you book on marriage
  • Create a family mission statement (our goal guide can help you with that!)
  • Look ahead and make a plan for your anniversary
  • Print favorite photos from your life together and display them in your home
  • Write your wills

Weekly:

  • Ask "what's one way I can help you this week?"
  • Set aside one night for an at-home date night
  • Consult your calendars together and make a plan for the week
  • Get outside and do something active together

Daily:

  • Connect phone-free on a walk
  • Pray with each other
  • Sit down for a meal together
  • Laugh!
  • Show gratitude to each other
  • Pray for each other
  • Act on each other's love language

These are just a few suggestions for items to add to your Tending List each month to make progress on your relationship goals for the year!

We'd love to hear from you: what else would you add to this list?

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