Scrap the big to-do lists. Replace with Non-Negotiables.
I want to share something today that is extremely simple, yet effective. Is this a tiny shift? Yes. Does the energy you create everyday for yourself make an impact on your life? Yes. Does being gentle with yourself every day matter? I think you see where I'm going with this.
Each day during the week I allow myself at least 4 hours of uninterrupted hustle. I write, I respond to emails, and I am in the zone. But occasionally little tasks come up during my hustle time. For example, today I'm in the zone typing away and my husband calls, he usually doesn't call during the middle of the day so I answer. He notifies me we need to set up a new card on the phone bill because our last card expired and "just got a call about it, and could I take care of it? And love love love, OK, OK, bye".
This is ridiculously basic, but has been a big shift for my work flow. As I see it, there are two options here. I could add this little task to the giant list of things to do, or I could take less than a minute from my hustle time, log-in, and pay this bill. Simple right?
Not so much, at least not for me. I have often struggled with my time and to-do list management. I have a feeling that I am not alone. For the longest time I would sit and make long lists of every little detailed thing I needed to be prepared for. It was really time consuming and by the time I finished and reviewed my list I felt overwhelmed and uninspired to do ANY of it. Just so you know, I took the two minutes to log in and switch out the expired card with the new one and got back into glorious uninterrupted hustle instead of writing it down to worry about later. Easy, but a big shift from my previous to-do list addicted workflow where I never felt 100% accomplished.
Now, does it feel good to have a big list of things and get to the end of it all scratched up and done? Yep! But is that realistic for me to do on a day-to-day basis and get it all accomplished? No way, not for me. So I changed the way I set up my goals every day. Here is how I did it.
I work on a system of two short lists every day: Reminders & Non-Negotiables. I have reminders with alerts on my phone every day of monotonous things that must get done: groceries for dinner, meeting reminders, laundry, etc. These are the things that I don't need to put any thought into; they must simply get done that day. The other list is juicier and what I am excited to tell you about - my Non-Negotiables.
This has completely liberated the way that I work. Each morning I allow myself a 60-90 minute morning routine filled with self care. I shower, stretch, eat a full breakfast, meditate, and get ready to get my hustle on. Then, as I sit down to work, I grab my large whiteboard off the wall and write three to five Non-Negotiables for my day. The requirements for the Non-Negotiables are (1) they must be possible to finish in the time I have to work that day, and (2) once they are each done, I can go to bed feeling like I've done my best working towards my success. That is it. Everything else will get done when it gets done, or I will delegate it. This simple shift in my workflow accounted for huge results in my productivity and a significant increase in my ability to focus on what really matters.
Before, when I was simply putting my entire life on one list, I never completed it. It was impossible and I was setting myself up for going to bed feeling like I didn't get enough done that day, and that is not how I want to feel! I want to feel successful and accomplished at the end of every day. Those big to-do lists can often set us up for feeling like insane workaholics. I've also found it helpful to put all the tedious things like paying bills on the calendar for two days a month - get some music on and knock them all out in one sitting and don't think about it until the next calendar reminder goes off.
Examine the workflow of your life and how it makes you feel. Maybe you aren't like me and need the detailed outline of what needs to get done, but whatever your system is, make sure it is set up so you can feel like you kicked ass today.
It's all about what aligns your day-to-day activities to what success feels like for you.