Download Here: Ross Costanza – Evening Journal Template
Please note – I have listed out my typical day in the segments below. Using my Evening Journal template, you will simply open up the document at the end of the day and fill in the space and recount the details of your day. Recalling these details will give you a sense of gratitude and fulfillment as you think about all that happened over your day. I’ve found it incredibly powerful to do this exercise daily and I think you will, too.
I recommend you save a copy of this template on your computer and for each day, simply make a copy of it again and label it as such “August 23, 2018 – Entry” or something to that extent. Save a copy of your entries in the same folder daily and look back over these in one month. You’ll be fascinated by the things you’ll recount that you had actually forgotten about. DO IT!
Here is a breakdown of my daily routine and the “rules” for getting the most out of this journal:
5:30 – 7:30 am
Self-Improvement/Creative Project Space
1) Wake up
2) Cell phone is put in Airplane Mode (DO NOT SKIP THIS) — You must disconnect with your device here, it is imperative to getting the most out of this.
3) Drink 1-2 tall glasses of water (followed by a cup of black coffee)
4) Stretch while meditating and/or praying (starting your day from a place of gratitude will have a huge, positive impact on your mindset for the day, that is a fact)
5) Open my Hand-written Journal and write out both my 6 month – 1 year goals as well as my immediate (must take action now) goals.
6) Immediately start working on a self-improvement project. That could mean reading, creating new concepts for business, etc., just do something that makes you better that you don’t normally have time to do, that’s the key.
The entire concept of waking up early is to establish habits that allow you to expand your mind, think creatively, and mentally prepare yourself to win the day (and your life).
*Do not check your email or social media at this point. You will be tempted, don’t give in…the messages will be there in a few hours. I check my email 2-3 times per day now, that is it. Most of the stuff coming into your inbox is most likely junk that can be unsubscribed from anyways, don’t waste your mental space in the morning when you’re most creative on email, text, or social media. I can’t convey enough how important this is.
7:30 – 10:30 am
Fitness/Pressing Business Issues Addressed
Now that your brain is primed and the creative juices are flowing, it’s time to move into the next segment of the day. I realize this will vary for every person to a degree, depending on your job, what time you start work, your commute, etc. I’ve based this off of how I spend my day as a business owner but that doesn’t mean you cannot find practical application here and apply it where it fits for you. The important thing is simply to establish good habits and practice them daily, the same way you would a sport or a musical instrument that you wanted to be great at. No practice = No improvement.
7) Run/Exercise, Yoga or Stretch — depending on where my body is (always listen to your body) will determine what activity I do. When I’m looking for a high intensity burst, I use the app 7minutes, which is a great tool for getting a HIIT (high intensity interval training) workout right in your living room and getting the blood flowing nicely helps pump you up for the day.
8) Eat the Frog – Mark Twain once said that if the first thing you do in the morning is eat a live frog, you can go on with the rest of your day knowing that the worst is behind you. “Eating the frog” means something different for all of us, but addressing the most pressing issue(s) first and foremost gives you the weight of that burden removed from your shoulders, by and large, for the day, which frees up space in your head to be more efficient in other areas of your day, which will ultimately lead to better productivity.
10:30am – 1:00pm
Email, correspondence and evaluation window
9) Check and respond to emails. It has to be done sometime, this typically where I do it for the first time during my day. By now, I’ve already been up and active for 5 hours when in years past it may have been 1-2 hours. That math suggests that I’ve wasted a lot of time in the past, which is true, but we don’t look backwards, eyes forward on the prize.
10) Lunch around noon.
11) Gear up mentally for my big tasks while taking 20-30 minutes to relax.
1:00 – 4:00pm
GRIND WINDOW – Heavy lifting tasks powered through
12) My most time consuming tasks go here. For me, it’s editing wedding photosets or sets from other sessions, designing albums, etc. Whatever the case, I’ve found I handle these tasks best once I’ve crossed the 12:00pm mark. Yes, there are distractions that pop-up, which is why it’s important that you don’t stay on social media or email all day, rather, you stay focused on the tasks at hand. Do I get distracted, absolutely, but realizing that and correcting the problem gets me back on track. You must identify this within yourself and correct it to avoid getting sucked in to Facebook or Instagram for 2 hours and not even realizing you’ve wasted your day until its too late. Social media is great in a lot of ways, but it is also a major time suck that kills your productivity. Don’t go down the rabbit hole of animated GIF’s and memes only to realize you’ve wasted precious time you won’t get back. Realize this, address it, correct it, and get more done in your day.
4:00 – 7:00pm
Tie up loose ends, dinner
13) Sometimes the “grind window” bleeds over, thats ok, that is why I have this segment here as a 3 hour block. If I’m in the zone and feeling it, I’ll keep rolling through a project. It’s a bad idea to kill good momentum if you don’t have to, so I live by this mentality religiously.
14) Somewhere inside of my day I’ve got to address social media concerns as a business owner, so I usually take this time to plan, schedule and respond to any facebook messages that have come over.
15) I’ll catch up on emails before “leaving the office,” which for me simply means leaving my home studio in the detached garage to go into the house. I don’t check email after 7:00pm, you shouldn’t either. At this point, I’ve given my day to work and my clients, about 10-12 hours worth of my day when it’s all said and done, the last thing I (or you) want is to have an email come across from a colleague or client who has had one too many glasses of wine that will totally derail your night. Your evening should be for you and your family. I will contradict myself and say that sometimes I will work on projects into the evening hours as well, but overall, I reserve this time for myself and my family. If there is an email that causes me stress, it will be there in the morning for me to deal with and that will be the frog I eat for that day.
7:00 – 10:00pm
Personal time, creative time, unwind
16) Remember the self-improvement piece at the very beginning of this? That should actually happen again here to a degree. Take 20 minutes and read something that makes you smarter or encourages you in ways you haven’t been encouraged before. Text loved ones and catch up with them a bit. Hell, I’m guilty of kicking my feet up and watching a series on Netflix or Hulu, the mental break is welcome and needed. That’s why I love that this is personal time. You do you, boo.
17) KILL ALL ELECTRONICS 30 MINUTES BEFORE BED. No, not literally, but put your phone on “Do Not Disturb” and prepare to wind down. Close the lid to the laptop, put the iPad away, etc. Hop in bed 30 minutes before your regular bed time and unwind there as well. You may actually find you fall asleep quicker without the pressure of having to be asleep right at 10:30 (or whatever time it is for you).
10:30pm – 5:30am
At the bottom of the journal, you will find 4 sections included. They are:
Takeaways from the day:
Here, I want you to list out anything you experienced over the course of the day that you found profound or even a simple observation that suddenly “clicked” in your head. My takeaways are usually centered around an epiphany or conversation I had with someone. Give it a shot, it’s cool what comes up when you just think about it.
Action Goals for tomorrow:
List out your 3-5 most pressing, “must take action” goals for the following day. Doing this will allow you to hold yourself accountable to completing those goals.
You must practice gratitude daily. Operating from a mindset of thankfulness and appreciation will keep your head clear and focused on things that matter. No matter how much or how little you have, practicing gratitude will help you reach new heights physically, mentally and spiritually.
Space for any additional musings or observations you have may have.
That’s all for now, thank you so much for taking the time to read this information. If you have found this info to be of value to you, all I ask is that you pay it forward and share this post with someone who you think would benefit from it. Until next time…