Write a Letter To Your Future Self About COVID-19

BONUS FREEBIE: Want even more ways to stay organized, productive and less stressed? Click here to get access to my List-Making Starter Kit. It will boost your efficiency and get you back to doing more of the things you love.

Before I decided to start my own business as an author, speaker, and media trainer, I worked as a senior health producer for television news. Even though I loved my job, the time came when I realized I wanted to move on. 

The day I realized I needed a change, I wrote myself a long email about how I was feeling. I used an app called Boomerang for Gmail to schedule the email to arrive in my inbox one year later.

I knew that if I didn’t document how I was feeling in that moment, I would be able to trick myself into forgetting that it was time for me to start something new. 

It’s true – there was a Stanford University study done that found your brain filters out the information it doesn’t think you’ll need later. So your brain has a hard time holding onto all the information and emotions you have.

But some of the things you forget actually ARE relevant and important. I wrote about this in my book Listful Living.

That’s why writing yourself a letter right now, during this unusual time, can help you remember the lessons you’re learning. 

Here’s the video I shot with my tips for writing yourself a letter.

This doesn’t have to be a perfect letter. Just write about what you’re feeling, no matter what those emotions are. 

What do you miss? 

What are the things you’ll be grateful for when things go back to normal?

What changes do you realize you want to make?

When that email I wrote to myself came one year later, I was in the process of leaving my job to start my business. I was scared, but reading that letter from myself was a reminder that I’d known for a long time that this was what I needed to do. 

Right now, you’re probably having realizations about what’s really important in your life. But when the routines of regular life start up again, you might forget. 

So let’s all try this together. And in one year, we can check in with each other about what our letters say and how we’re going to use our insights to lead happier, more productive lives

BONUS FREEBIE: Want even more ways to stay organized, productive and less stressed? Click here to get access to my List-Making Starter Kit. It will boost your efficiency and get you back to doing more of the things you love.

Four Ways to Focus on Your Goals During Lockdown

BONUS FREEBIE: Want even more ways to stay organized, productive and less stressed? Click here to get access to my List-Making Starter Kit. It will boost your efficiency and get you back to doing more of the things you love.

Do you feel overwhelmed by all the “helpful” content all over social media and the internet? I know I do. Everyone is sharing information on the positive things we can do during quarantine. 

From baking bread to learning new yoga routines, it seems like tips for being more productive and learning new skills are everywhere you look. 

Lots of people are feeling the urge to use this time to do something new and productive. But sometimes it just feels like there’s too many options. The pressure of all those things to do can be really stressful!

And you definitely don’t need more stress in your life — especially not during a pandemic. From adjusting to working from home to figuring out how to maintain healthy relationships with roommates or family members, everyone is figuring out how to stay sane and productive. 

That’s why it’s especially important to be mindful about what kinds of content you’re engaging with right now. 

I filmed a video with my four tips for clearing the clutter and making time for what you really want to do.

Make a list of the things you wanted to do before quarantine. 

If all this content is causing you stress, think about whether you’d have wanted to try these hobbies and tips before lockdown. If the answer is no, try to remember what you always wished you had time to do. Give yourself some a few minutes to brainstorm, and then see which of those goals is still viable with the restrictions of the pandemic. From there, you can decide which couple of things you want to try first. This isn’t just something that will help you during this time of crisis — it’ll be crucial as you design your post-pandemic life.

Find themes. 

Once you have a list of things you’d like to try, think about what themes show up. Are multiple items on your list related to getting involved in your community? Do you want to work on mindfulness? Are you hoping to be a more adventurous cook? Identifying these categories is a helpful trick for seeing which pandemic trends actually align with your existing interests. 

This is something I talk about in Listful Living. If you’re feeling overextended or burned out, it’s time to start thinking about which commitments and activities fit with your priorities. And what was a priority pre-pandemic might not be anymore. 

Cut down on screen time.

If you’re in the habit of spending your free time scrolling through social media, you’re probably seeing all kinds of ideas on how to introduce more positivity and productivity into your quarantine routine. All those options might make you feel pretty anxious. 

If this sounds like you, maybe it’s time to cap your screen time. When you find yourself mindlessly reaching for your phone, think about whether you’d feel better using the time to work on one of the projects you’ve already written down. Seeing lots of new ideas can distract you from what you already know you want to do. If you need help thinking of ideas, give yourself a set amount of time to search the internet for inspiration.

Keep track of the content you connect with. 

Lots of the positive content that’s out there can be helpful — but only if you have a way to interact with it that doesn’t cause more stress. If you do see something online that you think sounds interesting, keep a list of ideas. That way, you can keep track of things without feeling like you need to do it all right now. Maybe you saw a productivity hack that would make sense for you in a few weeks. Maybe a friend told you about a yoga routine she loves, but you’re just not feeling up to it right now.

Whether it’s a notebook or an app, keeping a running brainstorming list of all the best tips and ideas you come across will help you unload and focus on what you want to be doing right now. It’s key to think about what you need in your life today, not a week from now. If there’s an idea you love but aren’t ready to try, put it on hold until it makes sense for you and your life. 

Everyone is experiencing the pandemic differently, so what’s helpful for other people right now might not fit with your needs. Acknowledging this will help you prioritize the things that do fit. 

By spending less mindless time online and creating a system for keeping track of the interesting tips and new hobbies you come across, you can start taking control of your time. 

Do you have any tips for prioritizing your goals during lockdown? I’d love to hear about them in the comments. 

BONUS FREEBIE: Want even more ways to stay organized, productive and less stressed? Click here to get access to my List-Making Starter Kit. It will boost your efficiency and get you back to doing more of the things you love.

How Gayle King Stays Productive

BONUS FREEBIE: Want even more ways to stay organized, productive and less stressed? Click here to get access to my List-Making Starter Kit. It will boost your efficiency and get you back to doing more of the things you love.

A couple weeks ago, I went to see Gayle King give a talk. Gayle is an iconic journalist who has worked in media for over 40 years (even though she didn’t have a TV until she was in sixth grade!).

Plus, she’s Oprah’s BFF! And you know how much I love Oprah!

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Happy 4th Birthday Listful Thinking!

It’s hard to believe that four years ago I release my first book Listful Thinking. The book tour that followed was the first time I got to meet many of the regular followers of this blog ListProducer.com.

One of my favorite parts of meeting list makers in person was getting to see your lists! That was always so fun. And being able to debate the pros and cons of using technology with lists or keeping it old school. So much fun!
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The Case for Becoming A Minimalist

Since my book Listful Thinking has been published in 12 different languages I have been able to connect with list makers across the globe. In particular, I often receive messages from people in China and Japan who want to talk about their love of lists.

It’s become clear to me that while we may have different approaches and styles, being more productive without overworking ourselves is a common human goal. In fact, in my search for a more minimalist lifestyle, I have often been inspired by ideas from the other side of the world. If it wasn’t for a friend of mine recommending I checked out check out this excellent list, then the idea of minimizing may not have been as apparent as it is now for me right now. In our lives, there are many things we don’t actually need and a lot of things that take up a lot of unnecessary space.

As you may know I am a huge fan of Marie Kondo, who brings a simplicity to clearing clutter. She has you ask a simple question as you hold items from you home in your hand, “Does it spark joy?” It makes you really think about the stuff you choose to keep, not just in your closets, but in your life in general.

I’m not the only one who has been inspired by eastern minimalism. Raymond Tang felt overwhelmed by his fast paced technology driven lifestyle and sought change elsewhere. He was inspired by the classic poems of by Lao Tzu, an ancient Chinese philosopher. These poems are thousands of years old, but as Raymond explains in his TED talk they offer advice that we can embrace today.

Lao Tzu encouraged people to act more like water, which fills the shape of its container. t doesn’t fight against the obstacle in anyway. In the same way, all of us can be more open to opportunities and rather then force ourselves to be a certain version of success, we can just go with the flow.

It’s easier said than done, of course and I struggle with this on a daily basis. I really like order and structure and when I’m in a chaotic situation it makes me anxious. But I’m trying to be more open to chance and circumstance.

Minimalism is big in Japan as well, where young people are trying to own fewer and fewer things. Inspired by traditional Zen Buddhism, they have reduced the amount of physical things in their life to free up time spent cleaning or decluttering to be used elsewhere. When explaining the difference between Eastern and Western styles one person said, “In the west, making a space complete means placing something there. But with tea ceremonies, or Zen, things are left incomplete on purpose to let the person’s imagination make that space complete.”

In that same article one Japanese man explained that he only four pairs of pants, three shirts and four pairs of socks. If that makes you nervous, it shouldn’t! There’s something really freeing about having less stuff.

When you think about you probably use the same clothes over and over again anyway. So why are you holding onto it?