Ya’llknow that I love to French Kiss Life, and sometimes I need a good kick in the rear to get things done. I’m so excited to introduce you to my very first guest blogger. This lady is my go-to-gal when I’m ready to break down a typically overwhelming project into easy doable steps and get stuff done with ease and grace. She’s all about action, productivity and accountability. Ladies (and gents), Ms. Melissa Foster Cook. Enjoy!
If you have to-do lists containing items that have been on it for more than two weeks, tend to be unsatisfied with your big-picture progress, and/or have begun to experience guilt during your free time because you feel that you should be working – well then, my friend, this article is for you!
It’s time to look at the fundamentals of how you operate.
You see, it’s not just about hammering away at your to-do list or plowing through your schedule. It’s broader and deeper than that.
Below are six easy practices that will create a rock-solid foundation and set you up for the forward motion you desire…
PRACTICE #1: Separating Projects from To-do’s
We LOVE to keep lists, don’t we?!
There’s nothing wrong with that IF you know what you’re doing when you create your lists. Yes, there is an art to list making. But don’t worry – it’s super simple!
Every woman needs two lists: A TO-DO LIST and a PROJECT LIST
A to-do list consists of items that require short amounts of effort to actually complete the task. Dishes, making a phone call, sending an email – these are examples of to-dos.
A project list consists of items that are more complex, requiring the completion of two or more steps. Creating marketing plan, cleaning the house, writing an article, booking a vacation – these are PROJECTS, not to-dos!
What Usually Happens
Often times, we create a to-do list full of projects — not actual tasks. This makes it difficult to move through things with a sense of flow. Our brains need to see the bite-size task in order to “GO.” If the items on your list aren’t broken down, they’ll trip you up: there is extra analyzation that needs to occur before knowing EXACTLY what is next to do. (This is a major reason why procrastination happens!)
Knock Your List Out!
Once you have a list of projects, you can break each one down into the tiny steps necessary for completion. Place 3-5 tiny steps on your to-do list every week and you’ll be rockin’ through that list of projects before you know it!
PRACTICE #2: Rise Above Your Week
It’s important to take a few minutes to look at your week ahead before your week begins. Not just to look AT it, but to rise above your week and look down on it. This view allows you to be the puppeteer of your schedule and re-arranging activities and events in a way that makes the most sense for you.
Get It All Down In Your Calendar
- Set one to three priorities and place them into your schedule.
- Have a look at your to-do list and see where you can get some of those items accomplished.
- Make sure that your schedule is set up so that there can be a flow. Allow for adequate space between scheduled appointments and events, taking into consideration the time it takes for travel, eating, prepping, regrouping, etc. Peek at the powerful questions below to ensure you’re setting yourself up for success.
After getting it all down in your calendar, ask yourself the following questions:
1) Where do things feel too tight? And how can I relieve this?
Move things around so that your schedule is doable. You’ll end up letting yourself AND others down if you try to pack too much in.
2) What expectations do I need to set for others based on what I’m able to do this week?
Sending a quick note via email and/or text will go a long way, ensuring that you don’t feel pulled in directions you can’t accommodate.
3) Who can I ask for help?
Never be ashamed to ask for help, and be specific with your request. Instead of saying “Could you please help with this project,” say “Could you please email these three people requesting they complete this survey and send me the results? This would be a huge help.” This will ensure that they know exactly what needs to be done and you’ll know exactly what’s taken off your plate. (Don’t forget to say thank you! Those two words go a long way.)
Carving out some time on Sundays for this practice is powerful, but even Monday mornings before you get going with your day will work just as well. Play around and see what feels best for you.
PRACTICE #3: End of Day Review
It’s usual (and wise) advice to sit down before your day begins. This time is for you to get centered and look at the day ahead. You feel a lot more flow in your day when you do this.
But there’s one tip that doesn’t get as much coverage in the land of productivity: End Of Day Reviews.
What Is An End Of Day Review?
An End Of Day Review (EOD Review) is a small chunk of time you take (5-10 minutes) before walking away from your work for the day. This gives you a big picture perspective, keeping you truly on point.
Here’s a simple guide to conduct your own EOD Review:
1) Looking back on the day you just finished up…
-Make a note of what you accomplished. (Don’t skip this step. It’s important to remind your brain how much you actually did get done even though you may still feel swamped with work.)
-Make a note of the tasks that are still outstanding.
2) Looking ahead to your day tomorrow.
-Check your calendar to get familiar with what’s coming up.
-Ask yourself, “What needs to shift on tomorrow’s schedule based on what happened today?”
WHY An End Of Day Review?
Sometimes things don’t pan out exactly like we thought they would, and it’s important to be flexible and figure out how we can move things around in the following days to accommodate any unfinished business.
It’s important to determine this before you close up shop for the evening. That way it’s all set in place when you show up in the morning, and you can hit the ground running.
PRACTICE #4: Switching Modes After Work
For many of us, the work/life lines are very blurry. That tends to be the case when there is passion involved behind your work. Here is a differentiation that may help you create enough separation between work and personal life so that you aren’t left depleted…
While you are working, you are usually in the mode of serving others in some fashion.
As you wrap up your work, it’s important to deliberately switch modes from serving others to serving yourself. Having something symbolically represent the switching of roles can help tremendously. Some examples may be: changing clothes, taking a shower, petting your dog, a kiss from that special someone in your life, etc. Decide on one and allow it to help you slip out of one role and into the next.
The act of shifting from serving others to serving yourself can help you stay tuned in and present in your own life. THIS IS FUEL. Don’t miss out on it. No one wins with you serving others on an empty tank.
PRACTICE #5: Stepping Back as You Start Your Day
Spending just 5-10 minutes every morning in gratitude and setting your intention will set the tone for your day in a powerful way.
Whether you get your coffee and sit down to write in your gratitude journal or mentally list things for which you are grateful, starting your morning off from a place of gratitude kicks off your day from a state of abundance. And that is the BEST, most productive place to work/create from.
Setting an intention for the day promotes productivity in a big way. After glancing over the current day’s schedule, asking yourself, “How do I want to feel today?”
After you’ve chosen how you want to feel (e.g. productive, at peace, creative, playful, amped up, etc.), ask yourself, “What do I need to think and do to make that happen?”
Your answers to these questions help you get clear about how you want to show up and enable you to create it for yourself.
PRACTICE #6: Daily Check-ins
You are always on a journey.
You are reading this article. That’s a journey.
When you watch your favorite TV show – that’s a journey. For example, if you watch The Biggest Loser, you go on a journey where there are extremely overweight people being driven by some pretty ruthless trainers and literally working their asses off. You witness the struggle, the milestones, the weigh-ins, the celebration, etc.
Do you ever “confide” in a friend or family member about how horrible something/someone is and how you wished things were different? You’re going on a journey.
When you read a magazine/book – you’re going on a journey.
When you sign on to Facebook – you’re going on a journey.
Understanding that we’re always going on journeys, simply begin to check-in with yourself and ask the question that places the power for change in your hands:
“IS THIS JOURNEY TAKING ME TO A PLACE I WANT TO GO?”
Answering this question forces you to be hyper-aware of how you are spending your precious energy. As you become aware of this, just keep asking yourself the question, “Is this a journey I want to take?”
You will stop going on unwanted journeys and will have the power to start consciously selecting where you want to go.
~ ~ ~ ~
Are you ready to get more done? These six practices will maximize your effort and take your results to new heights. I strongly suggest that you implement one practice (or two, MAX) per week. The process of steady incorporation will facilitate lasting results.
Time to hear from you!…
Which practice seems to be calling your name? Which one are you going to implement first? Share your answers in the comment section below!
If you liked this article, you’re going to LOVE Melissa’s 30-day Tighten Up 2012 program, which is about to start! Don’t miss it!
Productivity master and mindset maven, Melissa Foster Cook, is the go-to partner for audacious women making their vision a reality. Melissa’s mission: help women optimize their lives to get out of their own way… and get big things done. A certified Martha Beck coach, Melissa’s hyper-focused, energetic approach is coupled with wisdom, warmth, and wit. Guiding women in the leap from “dream” to “done”, Melissa’s coaching has helped clients do everything from starting million-dollar businesses to cleaning out their garage.
You can head on over to Melissa’s blog for more productivity articles and videos!
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