The Measure of a Day

A little over two years ago, I started a practice of tweeting every morning what day it was, followed by a reminder to just do that day. So for instance, with today being Tuesday, today’s tweet will read “It’s Tuesday. Just do Tuesday.” There may be a silly little flourish to it, but those five words will appear.

When I started doing this, I remember feeling overwhelmed by whatever I had on my schedule that week. There was so much to do and I was wondering how I was going to be able to do it all, and I was wishing that certain items on my list were already past or checked off.

And through the cacophony of noise in my head, a voice broke through: “It’s Wednesday. Just do Wednesday.” (It was a Wednesday.)

In other words, whatever obligations I had on my list for that day, that’s all I should actually be worried about. Leave the upcoming meetings and tasks for their respective days, and just do what’s meant for today.

I did a podcast episode about this same concept a while back.

The other week, I listened to a talk by the creative Austin Kleon. The conversation with participants was free-wheeling, and much of it had to do with how one may stay on task with their own artistic pursuits. At one point, he mused about the day as an accessible unit of measurement. He said it can be more difficult to conceptualize longer time frames like a month or a year, but a day is something we can wrap our heads around much more easily.

The beginning and end of a single day are easier to see. As we move through a single day, we can divide it up into even smaller units if we need to, and we have a clearer idea of when it will come to a close. We have an idea of when longer periods of time will end, but they’re more difficult to plan. The time of a single day is much easier to budget from start to finish.

So a reminder to “just do today” is an encouragement to do what makes sense for this unit of time, this one 24 hour period, and then leave what doesn’t make sense for tomorrow or some other point in the future. If your creative project, your work goals, your prayer life, your fitness routine, or whatever else gets even a nudge forward, then you’ll have made good use of the day.

Then tomorrow, a whole new day, you can nudge it forward a little more. And before you know it, you can look at all the days behind you and see how far you’ve come.

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