When I first started writing complete stories, I had a dream of having a book published. I got there, and then wanted print. Then I got there. Aaaannnnddd...then I got stuck. What now? Making lofty goals was a lot harder once I started accomplishing some of them. Because then it became real, and fear combined with some serious imposter syndrome took over.
So yesterday I pushed aside the idea that I had to have a huge milestone goal that was bigger and better than the last one. I made a goal that I knew I could do, but pushed me a little, and wrote out the steps. In fact, after I finish up with this blog, I've got some of my first steps plugged into my calendar. Which means, I'd better get into today's task!
For Day 5 we're going to start with something easy. A brain dump.
There are a ton of different terms for a brain dump, but at the end of the day, you're going to make a list of everything going on in your head. If you've never heard of a brain dump before and want more information, I've got a short video below. And she included a "Trigger List" link from the book Getting Things Done in her video notes.
Set your timer for 10 minutes and write down everything you've got swirling in your brain. To Do's. To Buy's. Remember It's. Get it all down on paper. If you are done before the ten minutes, check your calendar or the "Trigger List" and see what pops up from there. You can keep going after the timer, but don't stop before it. Give your mind a chance to take a few u-turns and get lost to make sure you get every item on there.
Now that you've got all these items, it's time to organize them! You can create any categories you want. I'm using three.
Home - These are any items that are involved in the maintenance of my household. Bills, repairs, cleaning, school assignments, etc. I also put my evil day job items in this category. Because my evil day job is not one I love, it is used to pay the bills only. And bills fall under the "Home" hat for me.
Health - We tend to push our health to the back of the lists. At least I do. And I'm making an effort with this challenge to force myself to think more about the health of myself and my family. Things under this category might be meal planning, grocery shopping, doctor's appointments, exercise (eww), etc.
Heart - We started out this challenge with our "Why". This is where all those little steps toward that go. Personal development, books to read, vacations to take, classes that are for your own joy and not a requirement for a job you hate, all that stuff...it goes here. This is where my writing lives.
You've got a little organization, now it's time to fine tune it. We're going to do the following steps for each category. Pick whatever category you want to start first.
Step 1. Find all time sensitive items and write them in your calendar.
Remember that calendar I told you we were using? It starts today. Do you have upcoming birthdays on the list? Mark them down. Job interview? Mark it down. Any item that is an appointment or a time sensitive task you want to remember, put it on the page. If you're not sure about an event, but you want to remember to make a decision about it, take a postit and plop it on the date you need to RSVP by, or add a reminder to your online google calendar. If evaluating your schedule on Day 2 of this challenge made you realize you don't have time for something, cross it off your brain dump list. It's gone.
Step 2. Look for items you need to delegate.
A lot of times things will pop up in your brain dump that are not really yours, but you need to check in on them. Mark next to the item, who it belongs to, and if you need to make a call to check on the item, put it in your calendar. If you find you're worrying about something that isn't really yours to control or check on...cross it off. If there are chores you need to share with the rest of your family, make a list of everything that you can turn over to others, and turn all of it into a family meeting To Do.
Step 3. Find your Top 3
Once you've slogged through and eliminated all the items that aren't really yours to take action on, find your top 3 items in each category. They could be your top 3 because of how time sensitive they are. Or they could be your top 3 because they mean the most to you. This is where you get to pick the most important items. And also why I'm limiting the lists to 3 categories. Nine items are more than enough to focus on.
Step 4. Write down the next step
For each of your top 3 items write down what your next step is. Just one. Is it sending an email? Making a phone call? Doing some research? What is the next actionable item you need to do. And your next step is not to "make a decision". If you're informed on the topic, make the decision now. If you need to discuss the decision with other involved parties, your next step is to make a phone call or send an email. And if you aren't informed enough to make the decision, figure out why and research it.
Step 5. Take action
You now have 9 next steps on items that are the most important in 3 categories. Some of them are more important to you than others. Pick three actions of these nine and put them on your calendar for next week. You know how much time you have in a day, and where you have time in a week. Fit three items in there, and write them down.
Pick one more off this list. Put it on your calendar for tomorrow. I don't care if it's sending a single email. It's going on tomorrow's calendar.
Then pick one more. Do it today.
If my math is correct that leaves us four items on your top nine. Those go the week after next.
Today: 1 task
Tomorrow: 1 task
Next week: 3 tasks
Week after: 4 tasks
Step 6: Decide when to re-evaluate
What has stopped my progress dead was not stopping to look at all these lovely lists I'm so good at making. So before we finish up today, you're going to put one more thing in your calendar, and it's a note on when you're going to check in on your top items. I've set aside an hour every Friday to update my calendars and check in on the upcoming week. That's the time that works for me. Find yours. It could be an early morning on a Saturday, or a late night on a Tuesday. It doesn't matter, but you need to take the time at least twice a month to look over your schedule, and update what's coming next. Find your time and plug it into your calendar.
Speaking of re-evaluating, these blogs are taking me a bit longer to post than I anticipated. So my one hour block is turning into two. The adjustment on my Google calendar is already done. I'm doing this challenge right along with you guys. And it's kicking my butt too. But I want to make a change. So I'm putting in the work. Do this with me. We're getting geared up to accomplish great things. And it starts today.
Remember yesterday's lesson? You had to add one item from your long game goal to your calendar. Did you do your first step yet? Don't worry if you didn't, because you're working out your schedule again today. Make sure to mark it in. I've got one hour until my reminder goes off on mine. It's time to get cracking on my brain dump.
What are you going to accomplish today?