How I’m Making Over My Evenings

Recently on Instagram I talked about how I feel like I’ve been in a productivity slump. Maybe it’s the time of year or the fact that we spent months working really hard on a course launch.

Maybe it’s that we have a lot going on behind the scenes with the school year wrapping up and other life events happening. Maybe it’s that I feel like we’re sort of in a period of transition and the thought of all the unknowns that lie ahead are stressing me out. Maybe it’s a combination of all of those things.

I was so tired of always feeling behind and like I couldn't be productive. Changing the way I approached my evenings made a HUGE difference-- click through to the post to see how!

This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.

Sometimes I get especially frustrated when I’m in one of my productivity slumps because I think to myself, “I write about this stuff all the time! I know every productivity trick and strategy in the book! Why can’t I get moving?!” But even though productivity is one of my passions, it can also still be a struggle for me.

One evening when I was feeling frustrated about my lack of productivity in recent weeks, I happened to hop on to a Periscope hosted by Crystal Paine of Money Saving Mom. Crystal has been one of my blog heroes for a long time, and I always admire the way she does business and prioritizes her time. During the scope, Crystal described some of the exact challenges and frustrations I was facing with my schedule and my time. She also mentioned that she had just launched her new Make Over Your Evenings course that could help overcome some of these challenges.

I was so tired of always feeling behind and like I couldn't be productive. Changing the way I approached my evenings made a HUGE difference-- click through to the post to see how!

I confess, I don’t usually buy courses because it’s hard for me to sit still long enough to take them. It’s true. 🙂 But this one seemed like the exact encouragement that I needed at that very moment, so I popped over to Money Saving Mom and snagged it up. I was kind of skeptical because I thought I had probably heard every piece of “evening routine” advice out there, but I printed out the workbook, grabbed a pen and paper to start taking notes, and started in on day one of the course.

And you guys, it kind of felt like a weight had been lifted.

Sometimes you just need someone to walk you through the process, help you get organized, encourage and empathize, and hold your hand each step of the way, and that’s what Make Over Your Evenings did for me.

I learned so much during the 14 day course (it takes about 15 minutes per day to complete each lesson, so even I could sit still for that long 😉 ), but I wanted to highlight just three quick takeaways that were like “aha” moments for me.

Make Over Your Evenings

1. Figure out your frustrations.

I knew I was frustrated with my lack of productivity and how I was spending my time. I knew I was spending every day angry at myself because I hadn’t accomplished much from my to do list. But I hadn’t really taken the time to sit down and figure out the root of my frustrations.

I was so tired of always feeling behind and like I couldn't be productive. Changing the way I approached my evenings made a HUGE difference-- click through to the post to see how!

On day one of Make Over Your Evenings, Crystal asks you to answer the question, “What is the most frustrating thing in my life right now?” Without even thinking about it, I wrote,

I feel like I’m always behind, doing everything at the last minute possible. When I have time to be productive, I end up feeling anxious and spinning my wheels, getting nothing done.

And there was the root of my problem. She then has you think about what would need to happen for those frustrations to change, and working through that exercise was like absolute gold for me. It brought me clarity about what I could do differently to stop the “rat race” feeling and become more intentional about my time.

2. Focus on your “best stuff.”

I knew this was coming. This is something that has been coming up over and over lately in my life– I’ve even written about it on the blog. Sometimes I need to say “no.” 

I tend to get so caught up in what other people want me to do, what I feel like I should do, what I feel pressured into doing, etc. that I forget about the things that are actually my biggest priorities, my “best stuff.”

I was so tired of always feeling behind and like I couldn't be productive. Changing the way I approached my evenings made a HUGE difference-- click through to the post to see how!

When I took the time to write down everything I was currently responsible for and pick out what my top priorities really were, I was surprised at how clearly some decisions came into focus.

That may mean I have to say “no” to some things, even some really good things (which is torture for a “pleaser” like me!), but when I am focusing on my best stuff, I can be more effective, spend my time wisely, and help more people. And to me, that is worth the awkwardness (sometimes the agony) of having to say “no” to other things.

3. Have a plan B.

This was genius to me. Every time I have made an evening routine, I write out one routine and say, “I’m going to work really hard and do this same exact routine every single night!” The problem is, though, every night at our house is not the same. The boys have lessons and activities. Sometimes we have church commitments. Sometimes we meet up with friends. Sometimes it’s my laundry night and I have a folding party and catch up on my favorite shows. 🙂 There is no possible way that one routine could accommodate all of these different circumstances.

So what Crystal suggests, then, is that we come up with a plan B (and maybe even a plan C and D), a scaled back or altered evening routine for those nights when life is a little hectic and plan A just isn’t going to happen. Then instead of saying, “Well, I don’t have time to complete the routine I planned out, so I might as well chuck the whole thing,” you move to your back up plan and keep rolling with the punches.

With the school year coming to a close and a lot of extra events seeming to make their way on to our calendar, this strategy has been a life saver on more than one occasion.

Now, even though I am now an official Make Over Your Evenings graduate and have my plans A, B, and C all mapped out, does that mean that every night goes perfectly smoothly? Nope. Sometimes we get thrown some curve balls or have circumstances we just can’t control. But going through the course has given me so much clarity about my focus and priorities, and has helped me be much more intentional about our evenings (which makes for a smoother day the next day!) and I am so grateful for that!

I was so tired of always feeling behind and like I couldn't be productive. Changing the way I approached my evenings made a HUGE difference-- click through to the post to see how!

Friends, sometimes life feels crazy and a little bit out of control. And when that happens, having a plan and approaching our days with intention can definitely help provide a little bit of calm in the midst of the chaos!

Do you have any tips for helping your evenings to go more smoothly? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!

Have a great day!


This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.


  1. Ramona Richards says:

    Thano you for your post. The plan B is an excellent way to not get frustrated. Like you evenings are not all the same but having a routine helps

  2. Whimsies of a Nerd Girl says:

    Oh my goodness, I absolutely love this post! I feel like you were speaking to me! This has been my problem and downfall for quite some time now. I am such an OCD and perfectionist personality type that when I don’t start something on time or it doesn’t turn out the way I had hoped I throw that plan out the window for the day. Thank you for giving me great tips on how to work myself around my flaws! I just found something to add to my bullet journal! 😉

  3. Christene Holder says:

    The Plan A and B (and C and D) thing is so eye opening to me! I never thought about it like this and I felt like I was constantly failing at my routines because every night is different. It’s illogical to think that every single night will go exactly the same but that’s what I’ve been doing. And then I beat myself up and throw the plan out the window. Thanks for sharing this. I think I need to get starting making my alternate plans 🙂 genius!

    >> Christene

  4. Emily @ Small Stuff Counts says:

    I so need this right now! I feel the same way, that I talk about productivity all the time so I should know how to do it. But I’m totally in a rut right now. This course is just what I need right now. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Sarah Eddins says:

    I’m so glad to hear that you liked her course! I got a great deal on it when it was launched and haven’t had a chance to dive in yet(I’ve been reading your blogging ebook first – ha!), but I’m excited to know so many people have loved it. And if you are a people pleaser (like ME), you may want to check out “The Best Yes” by Lysa Terkeurst too. It’s SOOOOO good! 🙂

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Ooh yes. I’ve heard about “The Best Yes” from a few different people now, and I think I need to snag it! Thanks for the recommendation, Sarah!

      ~Abby =)

  6. Thanks Abby for another great article! I’m in the mist of starting a new blog and really needed some type of organization to my day! I feel as if I’m spread way too thin these days. The course doesn’t take up hardly any of my time. I started the course today and liked it so much that I went and also purchased Makeover Your Mornings! I am already super impressed and excited! Thanks a million for caring so much about your audience!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      So glad you’re loving it too, India! Congrats on your new blog!

      ~Abby =)

  7. Cassondra Harder says:

    I love the B plan idea… I’m so guilty of the “well I can’t do it perfect so I’ll do nothing at all” haha!

  8. I need to add this to my “to read” list. I always feel behind also! It is a constant struggle to figure out what I should leave undone every night so I can actually get some sleep.

  9. LA McClure says:

    Like you, Abby, I really struggle with completing any course I buy. One of my many frustrations.
    Thanks for sharing

  10. Mary Crozier says:

    I am so busy and focused and driven during the day when the children are in school. At 3:30 p.m. I stop doing all my “things” and make time to hear about their day, their challenges, their frustrations. I feel like the rest of the day belongs to my family and have learned to protect that time at home with them. It doesn’t change when they get older-they just need you in different ways. So evenings are to spend with my family. The chores can wait. Because before you know it, they are grown up and have left the nest. Can’t go back and capture that time.

    1. justagirlabby says:

      So true, Mary!

      ~Abby =)

  11. Thanks so much. I’m feeling the same way! I recently discovered Goals through my Google Calendar – for me is a game changer! Super helpful to keep me moving forward. Thought it might be helpful for others!

  12. Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, MCC, SCAC says:

    Hi Abby,

    Since you asked . . .

    Like you, I am great at offering helpful advice about the very things with which I struggle personally, but I’m not always so great at climbing out of lack of activation quicksand myself.

    One of the things I struggle with most is also what I write about quite a bit in articles that are focused on other challenges: what I call black and white thinking (perfect or worthless lol). When things don’t go exactly as planned (and when do they EVER, really?), I get so discouraged it’s almost as if any resilience at all has totally disappeared. (see what I mean? BLACK or WHITE!)

    One thing that helps me (sometimes 🙂 ) is making a BRIEF list of “starters” for the next day, right after I put on my jammies. I’ve noticed that if I get offtrack at the beginning of my day, there’s not a lot I can do to “makeover my evenings” on the fly. Plan B, etc., is something I intend to implement poste haste!

    But the thing that seems to really give my future productivity a boost is a technique I invented years ago: The Backwards To-Do List – A Different Way to Help you get UNSTUCK (the name of the article that best explains it) If you get to it soon, scroll down on the right menubar list of Most Recent 20 Articles (newest on top). Otherwise search for it using the search box at the top. Even my clinically depressed readers have told me that it usually works for them. (Be sure to say hi whenever you find the time to visit.)

    I’ve been reading your blog(s) for some time now (and signed up to get your emails). I’ve pinned you a couple of times, but I haven’t commented much to let you know how much I enjoy it. So it’s past time to say hi myself – and thank you.

    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMore dot com)
    – ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder –
    “It takes a village to educate a world!”

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Thanks so much for sharing, Madelyn! I’ll have to check it out! Hope you’re having a wonderful week!

      ~Abby =)

      1. Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, MCC, SCAC says:

        Super! Leave me a comment to let me know that you found it. Hope you like it.

      2. Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, MCC, SCAC says:

        Super! Leave me a comment to let me know that you found it – holler if you can’t and I’ll send you a link. Hope you like it.

  13. Elizabeth @ CrazyBusyHappyLife says:

    I love Money Saving Mom but I haven’t been to her blog in a while. Thanks for letting us know about this course she’s offering. I too am in a bit of a slump and could use some extra motivation. Cheers!

  14. marieusa0203 says:

    You inspired me a few weeks ago when I first found out about your blog regarding tidying up and getting rid of clutter. You inspire me again today and all these morning-evening craziness I had for years might be soon behind me. I took the whole package thanks to your very generous promotion code !! Thank YOU ! :))

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Yay! So glad it was helpful for you!

      ~Abby =)

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Looks great, Claire! No internet is such a good idea… So many distractions! Thanks so much for sharing!

      ~Abby =)

  15. Ashley McLean says:

    I too feel like this sometimes. Last year I felt like this for months at a time and everything turned around when I prioritized. As odd as it sounds, spending 1-2 hours productively at the gym actually made me more productive at home and made me feel like I have more time to get things done. After reading several of your posts in addition to this one, I’ve decided to write about my passions- especially fitness and productivity as a homeschool/WAHM of 4- in a blog of my own. You are such an inspiration and it’s great to hear that even our inspirations are still normal people like the rest of us 🙂

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Thank you so much for your sweet note, Ashley! And I totally agree with you– I also feel like my productivity game is more on when I’m taking care of myself and exercising consistently. Congratulations on starting a blog! I can’t wait to check it out!

      ~Abby =)

  16. You put how I feel into words perfectly! With a newborn and toddler, schedules are ever changing. When I do get a minute to do something I feel like I’m spinning my wheels and accomplishing nothing. I might need to put a plan A & B (and probably C & D) in place to feel better about what I do each day. Thanks!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      I remember those days, Michele! Such a fun but challenging time of life. So glad this was helpful for you! Have a great weekend!

      ~Abby =)

      1. Thank you, I hope you do too!

  17. I tried using the promo code to purchase the morning one, but it didn’t work.

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Hi, Andrea! Sorry, that post was from 2016 so that promotion has ended. We will remove the code so no one else has the same issue. Again, our apologies!

      ~Abby =)

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