Last Monday morning I found myself stuck to the chair in my kitchen. I just couldn’t seem to make myself move from the kitchen to my home office to get started on the various projects of the day. So I tweeted my malaise to the Twitterverse.
My friend @micheledortch replied quickly.
The link was to an interview with Peter Bregman about his new book, 18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction and Get the Right Things Done.
Coincidently Michele’s tweet reminded me that on a recent business trip on Southwest Airlines, I ripped a shorter interview with Bregman titled, Docent of Distraction, out of the airline’s Spirit magazine (I don’t make a habit of ripping pages from airline magazines, but I read this and knew I needed to bend my own rules this one time.)
I’d already started using one of the tips from the Spirit magazine article.
“Every morning, transfer your to-do list to a calendar and apportion times for things, so that you’re realistic about what you can accomplish.
While I’m obsessive about my calendar, this tip has taken my calendar use to the next level. At the very least, I don’t feel as guilty at the end of the day for not having accomplished more.
Speaking of guilt, I appreciate that Bregman’s tips explain the psychology (i.e. the neuroses) behind why we do things that make us less productive. For example, this quote from the Inc Magazine article hit a little too close to home, especially for a mother.
“Many of us are afflicted with a disease called FOMO or Fear of Missing Opportunities. So we add things to our list and, even though we are unlikely to accomplish many of them, we keep them there. Unfortunately, that quickly transforms our to do list into a guilt list.”
I definitely have that disease and the corresponding section of my to-do list that is really a “guilt list.”
What got me out of my funk that morning? Michele’s tweet reminded me to look at something else I took from the Spirit magazine article. Bregman recommends identifying just five things that are a focus for that year, and making your daily to-do list based on spending time on one or more of those five things. I flipped back to the list of five things I’d sketched in my journal that day on the airplane. I picked two tasks that fit two of my five focus points, and got started.
See, easy. All it took to get me out of my Monday morning funk was Twitter, Michele Dortch and Peter Bregman. Hope they are all there for me next Monday too.
- Clear out your “guilt list” now. Bregman says the solution to the “guilt list” is a “3-day rule.” If you haven’t done it in three days, delete it. I can’t quite bring myself to do that, but I have re-categorized a bunch of stuff as “no date” which moves them to the bottom of my ToodleDo list and keeps them from making me from seeing them every day and feeling guilty.
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