“Dude, today was the most productive day that I’ve every had in my life.” That’s what my roommate/Bff told me a few years ago after I gave him a lesson of having a productive day -every day!
I don’t know how we got on the topic, but we were sitting down one evening talking about all the stuff he had going on. Paperwork that needed to be submitted to this person, errands to pick up or drop off, work, and all the other things life throws at us. After listening to him, I told him my formula for staying productive and having free time every day. The next day was the most productive day of his life at that point.
In this post, I will share with you what I told him!
1) Get a marker board.
This is first on the list because I believe it is the most important. Get a marker board, preferably with a calendar, and put it on your wall or refrigerator. Do this today, regardless of what anyone else living with you says and forbid anyone else from touching it. Make sure to put it somewhere where you can see it 90% of the time you are home.
You will have two lists. One list will be the super important list that contains no more than five things on it that you need to take care of within the next two weeks or so. If this list gets more than five then you are falling behind. Respect the lists.
The second list will be the things you need to get done the next day. Write the name of the day, “Monday, Tuesday, etc.” on top and list what you have to do. Include only things that are necessary and take up time. Work, go to bank, apply for school, etc.
List Number One
As I said, this is for bigger things like filing your taxes, fixing the sink, etc. Don’t include scheduled obligations like weddings. That’s what your calendar is for. This is for those things that you know should have been done last week, but you tend to put them off until your world falls apart and you claim you never had the time.
List Number Two
This is the most important and most fun list. Yes, I’m a nerd and I think lists are fun. At the end of each day, fill this list with what you are going to do the next day. Out of everything on your marker board, this list deserves the most respect. Make a promise to ALWAYS do everything on the list every day. Only include work or school on this list because it takes up so much time, you have to consider it when planning. Otherwise something routine like that would not merit the list.
Filling it out
When filling out this list, be honest. Put only one or two things on this list other than work/school the first couple of days to make sure you have enough time. Remember, if you write it down, you HAVE to do it. No excuses. Respect the list. If you can’t commit to this, then this plan will never work. I know you have what it takes, or you wouldn’t be reading this post in the first place.
When you have the time, pull tasks from the big, Number One List to fill spaces in this list.
Make sure to leave yourself enough room to enjoy the day.
2) The Rules
Rule Number #1
Do everything on the list without any gaps. One after another, without any breaks in between. Do not even think about leisure. Here’s the thing, you know that when you complete your list you can do whatever you want. Not only that, but you can do it guilt free.
Take a picture of the list in the morning and take it with you on your phone it you have to. You mustn’t forget what is on the list. Respect the LIST!
Rule Number #2
Do not do anything that isn’t on the list. If you finish the list and work by noon, then you’re off for the rest of the day! This rule is imperative because it fuels the motivation to finish your lists. Other than eating, don’t stop those tasks. Even when you eat you need to hurry.
This is important because it ensures two things: you need a break, and guilt-free leisure. Most of us takes breaks and rest all the time. Unfortunately, they’re almost never guilt-free. You’re laying on the couch looking at your phone, but you know the dishes need to be done. You decide to watch Netflix and take a nap, but the whole time you’re justifying not going to the bank.
With this rule you are on or off and you’re focused. You never feel bad for taking a break, and you don’t feel stressed when running errands.
Rule Number #3
Cross off tasks from your lists as soon as possible. Doing this sends so much pleasure through your soul, you’ll escapist to run the next errand or pay your water bill. Every time you cross off a task and see the productivity you feel like a superhero that just won a battler. These little victories increase moral substantially.
It’s important to leave the list crossed out on the board. Even the big tasks from list Number One should stay for a while. Seeing this reminds you that you’re done for the day, accomplished, and productive.
Rule Number #4
The list changes every day. It’s important to keep the list dynamic. List Number Two needs to be completely erased at night and filled out for the next day. Even the title of the day. That way if it’s Tuesday and you see “Monday” on the board, you know you fell behind and need to get back on track.
In addition to this, the list must not change in the morning. Think clearly the night before and make an accurate list for the next day. Otherwise you run the risk of making excuses for changing what you have to do that day. That causes the clear lines between “I have stuff to do,” and “I am done for the day and can do whatever I want.”
That takes us to our final Rule.
Rule Number #5
What goes on the list, stays on the list until it is marked off. Don’t put something on there and then not do it. It is better to have a shorter list and underestimate your ability to finish it, then to not be able to finish it because you overwhelmed yourself.
Removing stuff on the list the day you’re working on it causes the list to lose value. It turns into a typical American todo list that may or may not get finished. But, that isn’t you. You are better than that. If I haven’t said it already: RESPECT THE LIST!!
If you liked this post, let me know in the comments so I know to make more like this. What do you do to stay productive?
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