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The 1 Question to Ask Yourself for a Smoother Day

BY Mollie Donghia TIMEMarch 25, 2022 PRINT

Somedays, life seems to go smoothly– I can sit and sip my coffee in silence, the kids wake up in pleasant moods, my laundry gets completed, I’m able to write an entire blog post during naptime, and no one complains about what’s for dinner.

Life is good.

But in reality, those days are few and far between. Each day comes with its struggles and it’s up to us how we’ll manage them when they do.

Last year, I read Kendra Adachi’s bestselling book, The Lazy Genius Way. Through reading her book, I’ve learned many strategies that help me think like a lazy genius should– that is, “be a genius about the things that matter and lazy about the things that don’t….to you”.

One of the most simple, yet impactful takeaways that I’ve learned and applied to many areas of life is something called “asking the Magic Question”– what can I do now to make life easier later?

I’ve found that applying this principle to areas of life such as my daily routine, parenting, productivity, and even cleaning and meal planning have allowed me to see how doing a few small things now can make life a whole lot easier later.

In this blog post, I’ll share some helpful insights I’ve learned from Kendra about how to ask the Magic Question and ways that I’ve found it to be the solution to making life easier later.

What is “the Magic Question”?

Asking the Magic Question involves eliminating the pain points in your life by making small choices ahead of time.

The goal is to stay one step ahead so you’re not continuously putting out fires.

Asking the Magic Question is simple– “What can I do now to make life easier later?”.

By determining what areas of life cause the most stress, you can then apply the Magic Question to any of those parts of your daily routine and reduce the amount of overwhelm that they tend to bring.

Since reading The Lazy Genius Way, I’ve looked for ways to ask the Magic Question so that these pain points can be more easily resolved and my day doesn’t feel so chaotic. Here’s a few examples of how I’ve benefited from asking this simple question.

Appling the Magic Question to my life

My morning routine

A few years ago when my second child was still a baby, I remember feeling overwhelmed with how many of our mornings went.

Each morning, I was awakened to a crying baby. Pain point #1. Then I began juggling the tasks of feeding the baby, changing my toddler, getting them both dressed and diapered for the day, and putting the baby down for a nap. By 9:30 am, I was still in my pj’s, didn’t have time to sit and have my coffee or quiet time, and I already felt exhausted and unproductive. Pain point #2.

I decided to ask the Magic Question– what can I do now to make my mornings go more smoothly later?

I first decided to wake up before either of my children typically woke up. Then I decided to lay out my clothes for the next day so I could get dressed as soon as I got up. I realized that leaving a sinkful of dishes from the day before in the sink was causing extra work in the morning, so I made sure after dinner that all the dishes were washed and put away and the table was all ready for breakfast.

None of these small actions took much time to implement, but they made a significant change in the way our mornings progressed from there.

Meal planning

Post-naptime can be a rough time of day. Anyone else agree? When I wait to decide what’s for dinner until this time hits, it never makes my life easier. It was often a common pain point in my daily routine.

I decided to ask the Magic Question– what can I do now to make meal planning and prep easier later?

Now, I make a weekly (sometimes even monthly) calendar and plan out 5-6 meals that we’ll have that week. As I sit down to plan at the start of the week, I look at our schedule, make my store list, and consider how much time I’ll have to prepare meals each day (having easy, no-brainer meals in mind always come in handy!)

I’ve planned out our meals, purchased the groceries I’ll need, and now don’t have to scramble to plan dinner during a difficult part of the day.

Coming home from vacation

I remember coming home from vacation a few years ago and as we walked through the front door, a nasty smell lingered throughout the house. I had neglected to do one final trash and refrigerator removal and the contents of some foul smelling item had been sitting in the trash all week long. Pain point #1.

Not only had I neglected the trash and refrigerator, but there were still toys scattered around the house, and dirty laundry in baskets that had not been done prior to leaving for vacation. We were all exhausted and having extra work to do in addition to unpacking wasn’t making our lives easier. Pain point #2.

I decided to ask the Magic Question- what can I do now to make coming home from vacation easier later?

I made a checklist of several ways that will make my life easier when we return home from vacation. Here’s what I attempt to do before every vacation– it takes a little bit of extra time before you leave but makes a big difference upon returning home.

  • Take out the garbage.
  • Run the dishwasher.
  • Put fresh sheets on the bed.
  • Give a quick vacuum.
  • Remove perishable items from the fridge.
  • Put away clean laundry.
  • Plan a meal.
  • Clear off the countertops.
  • Tidy up the floors.

Conclusion

As with all of our blog posts and recommendations on living more simply, the most important thing you can do is what works for you. Ask yourself, what areas of my life cause the most pain points? Then, see how asking the Magic Question can eliminate some of those obstacles and make life easier.

Asking the Magic Question certainly isn’t a “cure all” for each of life’s challenges, but it certainly can help to make many situations easier by thinking ahead. Over the next several months, I’ll be sharing more simple strategies that have made impactful differences for me personally.

And as always, we greatly appreciate hearing thoughts from our readers about how strategies, such as this one, have allowed you to make time for what matters most!

This article was originally published on This Evergreen Home.

Mollie (and her husband, Mike) blog at This Evergreen Home where they share their experience with living simply, intentionally, and relationally in this modern world. You can follow along by subscribing to their twice-weekly newsletter.
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