Sitting on the couch the other day, I had a sinking feeling that I was wasting time. With so much to do, to hit maximum achievement in life, how can I sit on my couch and do nothing for over 3 hours? After a couple of minutes of stressing,
I realized that doing nothing was exactly what I was supposed to be doing.
Singing in the rain (Photo credit: John Fera)
I had given myself permission to relax. I had confidence that the work that needed to be done to achieve everything I had going was tucked neatly into my system. I had built in a rest period. It wasn’t a “cushion” in case I fell behind on work. It was necessary in order to recharge the batteries. I resisted the urge the to go into my office and write during this “free” time. I had to remind myself that this wasn’t “free time”, it was, in fact, scheduled “chill-axing”. I have a system to manage the balance of my day-to-day and big picture plan. It works to accomplish almost anything I want. Here is my 4 step system.
1. Have a place to “minddump”
. David Allen
in Getting things Done
still carries a little yellow notebook to write things down that “pop up” in his mind. I carry a Moleskin notebook and manage my mind dump on a weekly basis. . From mowing the lawn to doing my taxes, the mind dump is the primary entrance into my system. This is where I capture things as they come up. I intentionally schedule time to review my big picture plans (usually once a week and during my planning session) and add action items to this list. I’ll show you what to do with this information shortly.
2.Inbox. It’s so valuable to have a physical inbox that gives me assurance items will be managed. I can’t tell you why, but I still put items such as bills, and kids school stuff on my mind dump to assure it will get completed. This is a great example of tailoring YOUR system to what works. My inbox assures that I won’t lose things and assures they will get done. Above all else, YOU must have confidence in your system.
3. Weekly planning: Choose a day that works best for your season of life. For me, Monday mornings at 5:15 am works for now. This is a MUST! Have all inbox sources open and available. This is where you utilize the valuable minddump. Review each item and figure out what to do with it. Typically I start with many of the same things, i.e., “write 2 posts per week”, “Run 3 times per week”. These get fit in easily as these are recurring tasks. Other items such as “review freelance opportunities”, “develop training class”, and “Schedule physical” must be fit in knowing my calendar weak spots for the week. Everything must be assigned to the calendar or trashed and crossed off the list. Remember to plan everything including spontaneous acts. For me, these things clog my creative pipes if they are sitting in the RAM memory of my mind. From writing poetry for Jamie, to telling my kids I love them, there’s a place for all this in my system. I find that the security of having the minimum safe and secure in my system opens my mind up for more “real” spontaneity. Know thyself and don’t over book your calendar. You will quickly lose trust in your system of you do. We will discuss how to develop long-term plans to pull from in a later post.
4. Weekly Review: Choose a day that works best for your season of life. Friday afternoons before I go into weekend mode works well for me. This doesn’t take long as this usually bridges over to my Monday morning planning session. I review my calendar to make sure I haven’t missed anything. Any items that where left incomplete (things DO happen) are put back into the system for Monday morning’s planning session. I’ll close any loops such as emails or returned calls (if possible) so they don’t loom over the weekend. I will be implementing a quarterly review this month to help better manage big picture stuff.
When done correctly, a system clears your mind for better focus, clarity, and enjoyment. The power of knowing you don’t have looming tasks and projects running out the back door is intoxicating. Find a system and mold it to you. If it works, it’s perfect! In my experience, most systems work if you are intentional and you periodically review the system (once or twice a year) for flaws based on your season in life.
When was the last time you did NOTHING? Schedule some time for yourself, you’ll thank me later.
Rocco De Leo