I know what you’re thinking, “Isn’t throwing away your to-do list counterintuitive with getting things done?” As a lifelong list builder, I would have totally agreed with you a few months ago. That is until I learned a method that has changed my outlook on managing my schedule.
What I’ve come to realize over the years with my to-do list making is that while I would get a few things done here and there, the list never went away. I’d cross one thing off and then I’d add back on 3 more! I also noticed with my to-do list that it was there as a guideline but things ended up getting done haphazardly with lots of interruptions (I mean I couldn’t NOT reply to the comment on that Facebook post right this minute! haha) and I was constantly switching gears all day long. By the end of the day, I may have checked off a few things, but typically I was feeling drained and like I still had a million things circling in my head that I wanted to accomplish. But I’ve recently learned about “Monday Hour One” from Brooke Castillo of The Life Coach School and it has literally ROCKED MY WORLD!
What is “Monday Hour One”?
This is the practice of spending one hour a week at the beginning of your week getting everything out of your head – all of the unfinished tasks that need to be accomplished. This is uninterrupted time, so shut off your phone and all the notifications on your computer and sit down to work. Whether it be work stuff, personal stuff, family stuff, vacation stuff, future things, just get it all out on paper. Even silly things. When you think you have it all listed, ask yourself, “What else?” I guarantee you will keep coming up with more things. You may find you come up with obstacles that might be keeping you from doing certain things, write those down as well. This will help to clarify other steps/actions you may have to take to overcome the obstacles. You may need to break down tasks into steps. Write those down. Get as comprehensive as possible. Keep writing until you can’t think of anything else. While you may be overwhelmed by all the things that are listed on the paper you will also notice a sense of relief as you will be clearing away the clutter that lives up in your mind.
Now go through your list and eliminate the things you don’t want to do.
Take them off of your list. Remember, you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do. Do you feel obligated to do something but you don’t really want to do it? Cross it off or delegate it. You will find that there are often times a lot of things on your list that you think you “need” to do, but as I said before, you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do. You get to decide what things you want to do on purpose to live the life you want to live.
Next, prioritize your tasks.
Determine the things that are the most important tasks, what tasks need to be done this week, what could be done next week, and if there are any tasks that have slipped through that need to be crossed off…eliminate those now. Once you have this figured out, it’s time to transfer to a calendar!
Now it’s time to transfer your tasks to a calendar!
You may be thinking, that adding all those tasks onto the calendar is going to make it obnoxious and restrictive, but honestly, I can’t even begin to tell you how much time it’s freed up for me when I actually schedule tasks into my day instead of haphazardly trying to do them throughout the day. It’s total freedom to know my stuff is on the calendar and I don’t have to keep worrying about if I will get stuff done or not or if I will have free time or not to meet up with a friend last minute because it’s all written out for me.
Start by scheduling in your free/personal time.
From when you’d like to sleep, to eat, to just relax at the end of the evening, get that down on the calendar first. If you don’t schedule it in, you may be quick to work into those hours. We all deserve those days and moments of rest + personal time. Make them a priority!
Next, schedule in meetings + events.
If you have regularly scheduled appointments or a special work meeting or event, make sure you get those on the calendar. Don’t forget to also incorporate into your calendar the time it takes to get to and from those appointments!
Follow that by scheduling in Focus Time.
Focus time is 1-2 hours of uninterrupted time working on tasks that are meant to create a result. Keep your focus time to something that is creative-driven that you know will be completed by the end of the time. These are the big tasks that utilize our prefrontal cortex and require focusing your attention without any disturbances/interruptions. These are the tasks that you will feel good about after you accomplish them because you set aside time to do things that are going to make the most difference in your job + life. Prepare beforehand some of the items you might need for that focus time. This way you don’t get distracted with other things during this time. You may be asking though, “What if I don’t know how long something will take?” Give yourself a certain amount of time to do it and then get it done. When you make the time, you get it done. Work deliberately. And if you don’t get it done? It cuts into your free time and you aren’t going to want that so you will make sure to get it done. You will work smarter + more efficiently.
After that, fill in the remaining spots with any additional items.
I will tend to bulk my tasks together a lot of times. If I have to email a few people, I will put that all together in one single time block. You can also tentatively fill in tasks into the next week’s schedule if you have overflow and then re-evaluate them at your next “Monday Hour One”. And now the best part…
Throw your to-do list away!
Don’t just scratch stuff off, but completely throw it away in the garbage. You no longer need that list because you’ve taken everything out of your head and put it on the calendar to be accomplished. How freaking amazing does that feel?! When you can plan your life instead of living in default mode, it is so energizing! Why? Because you are honoring yourself and what you need to do to live your best life! I can guarantee that during those focus times you are going to get the urge to delay or not want to do something and make excuses as to why you don’t need to do something. It’s easy to just ignore the task at hand. But just think of how amazing you will feel when you commit to honoring yourself and accomplishing all you set out to do? This will create balance in your life, allow you to truly enjoy downtime and give you peace of mind that no small task is forgotten. Sounds like bliss, right?!
Think you are ready to give it a try?
Give it a try for a week and let me know in the comments below how it goes! If you think you’d like to learn all the details about how it works, and other ways I can help you with gaining control of your work/life balance, contact me!