There are very few things that are more satisfying than feeling successful. We live in a society that prides itself on getting things done, having places to go, and meeting new people. We have what I’ve learned to call the Busy Bee Syndrome (BBS). The latest trend is the comparing of schedules. “Oh! You think you’re busy? You should see my schedule!” There seems to be a need to feel needed. Gone are the days of lounging on Sundays. You must start your day of rest with a two-hour workout at the gym followed by a brunch with the ladies. Then it’s off to little league practice where you catch up on your emails and plan your dinner for the evening. On the way home, you stop at the grocery store. Once home, it’s time to make dinner. Next, you help your kids with their homework because they put it off until the last possible moment. Once the homework is done, it’s time to put them to bed. Finally, you get to sit and relax. Unfortunately, you are so tired from your day, that you fall asleep trying to read the book that you started two months ago. Life can’t go on quite like this. Commitments have already been made in your life. I understand that this is something you are probably not willing to compromise, so I’m here to offer you a way to save yourself time in your day. Learn to love the list.
Making a daily list of tasks that need to be accomplished can save you time and a major headache. In his book Eat That Frog!, Brian Tracy states:
One of your top goals at work should be for you to get the highest possible return on your investment of mental, emotional, and physical energy. The good news is that every minute spent in planning saves as many as ten minutes in execution. It takes only about 10 to 12 minutes for you to plan out your day, but this small investment of time will save you up to two hours (100 to 120 minutes) in wasted time and diffused effort throughout the day. You may have heard of the Six-P Formula. It says, “Proper Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance.” (Tracy, Brian (2007-01-01). Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time (p. 15). Berrett-Koehler Publishers. Kindle Edition.)
Two hours! Can you imagine what you could do with up to two additional hours in your day simply because you decided to plan ahead? Tracy suggests having four types of lists going on in your life: master, monthly, weekly, and daily lists. I agree whole-heartedly. The master list could be anything that you want to get done in the next six months or so. The other lists are pretty easy to figure out by their names. He does suggest that you fill out your daily list the night before so your mind has time to process the coming events while you sleep.
Keep in mind that while these lists have separate names, they work together. Begin with your master list. What do you want to accomplish over the next six months? Once you create that list, it’s important to break it down into achievable pieces. This is where you begin to create the other lists. Maybe you want to plan a family vacation. In order to do this, you need to break the large task into manageable smaller tasks. You know you will need to research the location. Find out how much money you will need to save. Determine the transportation required. All of these events can be put into the months leading up to the trip. In month one, you will probably do your research. In month two, you will probably begin saving the money you’ve discovered is necessary for funding the adventure. All of these can be broken up into weekly, then daily activities. Unless you have a large chunk of time to dedicate to research, you will probably split it up into segments of time that will fit into your daily schedule. The lists make seemingly impossible tasks possible.
You and I already know that you will continue filling up your schedule with tasks that must be completed. There are two tasks that you must start putting into your schedule without fail. You must begin scheduling time for yourself and blocks of No Time. Scheduling time for yourself allows you to find moments of peace in your day or week. You can’t truly take care of the people you love without making sure you have all cylinders firing properly. No Time must also be scheduled. Don’t panic. This is not time to do nothing. Let’s face it. You can try to “catch up” all you want. It will never happen. There will always be laundry to do, dishes to clean, and practices and games to attend. Always. No Time is time scheduled several times a week to complete unfinished tasks. While you will never actually catch up, you can beat down stress, depression, and overload by giving yourself an opportunity to accomplish the tasks that need to get done. Your secretary is going to schedule meetings during your “free” time unless you tell her that the time is not free. No task will ever be completed without giving yourself time to complete it.
The last thing that I want to mention about creating your list comes from Brian Tracy again. The title of his book is called Eat That Frog! Every list is going to have at least one frog-that task that you dread doing. The way to save yourself so much time is by doing the most hated task first. It will give you a sense of accomplishment, and it might just ease the length of time that other tasks take to complete. Those people who prioritize their least favorite tasks tend to accomplish more and procrastinate less. When you get your most dreaded tasks done first, you will feel a sense of accomplishment that will drive you to get more done.
Good luck and happy listing!