A few months ago, I came up with a little game, or daily ritual, to help me remember to do my favorite things on a daily basis, something I struggled to do, because I’d get caught up in life.  It’s a bit cheesy, but it works, and you might want to play too! There’s a freebie if you want to subscribe below.

Le sigh … another day, wasted

Do you ever get to the end of the day, and you didn’t do the things you wanted to do, because you got distracted and forgot that you wanted to do it when you had the time to do it?

This happened to me more often than I’d like to admit. I’d wake up, especially on a day off, and I would want to do ALL THE THINGS! I might even write a list of all the things. Only it wasn’t all the things, because I’d left something off the list. And then I would probably forget to look at the list.

Instead, I’d mindlessly surf the Interwebs, watch TV, play games on my phone, and get mad at myself at the end of the day, because I’d wasted my time and not done what I’d wanted to do. A big ol’ day of slack soothes the soul sometimes (my friend calls it SOAS—Sit on Your Ass Sundays), but it sucked when I didn’t want to have one. In the Groundhog Days of Covid-19, it’s easy to binge the day away, every day.

I’m a bit embarrassed to admit this, because I am a project manager by day, and knowing what needs to be done and making sure it gets done on time is pretty much the entire gig. However, I think that might be why I had a problem, because I have so much structure in my life at work that I need serendipity in my personal life.

Sometimes my serendipity, though, needs a nudge.

Cards with my favorite activities, so I will remember to do them
Pick a card, any card! Somerville, Massachusetts, USA

How do you solve a problem like forgetting? A fun daily ritual

Around the same time I came up with doing nothing, I also came up with a fun system that’s helped me remember to do my favorite things. I told some work friends about it during a Zoom coffee break on Monday, and one suggested that I tell you about it. Without further ado, here’s my solution:

It’s a deck of cards.

More specifically, a (messily) handwritten deck of cards with activities I want to do on a daily (or almost daily) basis. I’ve created a daily ritual of playing a game to ensure that I focus on my favorite things.

Over Labor Day weekend, I decided to try something. I’d recently joined a life coaching group focused on helping us achieve our biggest dreams, run by my childhood friend Emily Clement. She has a deck of cards that focus on your big dreams in life. Emily is fantastic. If you need some help figuring out what you want in life and how to get it, she can help.

Anyhow, I was trying to come up with some small steps I could do to help get me where I want to go, and I remembered doing the “Good Time Journal” exercise (I can’t stop giggling every time I think of that name) from Designing Your Life, where you list out what you did in a given day and then rate it on how it makes you feel. While Designing Your Life focuses mostly on work, I’d found that journaling exercise helpful in terms of clarifying what energized me and what drained me. It helped me identify things in my day that I really enjoy.

I know what I want to do with my days. The problem was that in the moment, I didn’t think to do it.

I simply remember my favorite things (by playing a game)

Inspired by Emily and the Good Time Journal concept, I grabbed the bright colored card stock that I bought for the work I was doing on my dreams (I was writing little questions for myself and putting them around my apartment to prompt me to think. Advantages of a pandemic—no one’s going to see that you put a question by your sink asking how we give our lives meaning when old mythologies pass away—I still don’t know, but I read an interesting book on the subject, because I went looking for some answers after doing the dishes). I then picked up a maker, and I started writing out things I love to do and want to do more of in my daily life.

I started with elements of my morning rituals and a few other things, and started, adding to it.

My daily activities

As of now, here’s the list:

  • adventure
  • contributing to a better world
  • cooking
  • doing nothing (i’d just started)
  • expressing gratitude
  • learning something new
  • meditating
  • photography
  • playing with Ollie
  • sleeping (napping)
  • spending time with family
  • spending time with friends
  • tending to my home
  • thinking creatively about my career
  • walking
  • writing
  • Yoga

And now I don’t feeeeeeel soooooooo baaaaad!

It sounds a bit stupid, right? Here’s the thing—it works.

I keep the deck in my living room, and every day, I look through it. As I complete an activity from the deck, I take the card and add it to my “done” pile. Kind of like badges, or stars on a chores chart (only this stuff is fun). At the end of the day, I snap a quick photo of my cards.

Some days, I get a lot of cards, like this one.

Cards with favorite activities, created to help remember to do them
So many of my favorite things! My handwriting's not the best, and it's been bugging me that not all of the cards agree grammatically, but you get the idea. Somerville, Massachusetts, USA

Other days, not so many. Sometimes, because time with friends is time well spent.

Cards with my favorite activities, created so that I remember to do them
Not so many, that day. But time with friends is time well spent. Somerville, Massachusetts, USA

Some days, I do something, like Yoga, that I might not have done otherwise. I like to get a lot of cards.

I figured out that I want to take photography more seriously, and I decided to get a camera after drawing that card day after day.

I want to see more contributing to a better world in my days, and it’s something I’m working on for this year.

I still have the occasional SOAS, but I do it with intention, and at the end of the day, I am pleased with myself instead of mad.

What would you like to do today?

Do you find yourself in a similar spot of knowing that there are things you like to do, but you need a little nudge to do them? If so, maybe making yourself a deck of your favorite things might help you create a daily ritual of focusing on what’s important to you.

If you do try this, let me know in the comments. I’d love to hear how it goes!

An updated game!

In the time since I published this post, I’ve refined the game a bit. Check it out below!