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Start UnBatching Your Tasks

Every three months I do an accountability call with the students  from my Listful Thinking Masterclass. We discuss the ways they’ve implemented the course into their day to day lives, and we also talk about their latest ventures in productivity.

Recently, one of my students explained how, after being inspired by a LinkedIn article, he has started avoiding social media on Tuesday. Why Tuesdays? He just picked it and now Tuesdays  are his most productive day.

I really like this idea. I often promote the idea of batching tasks together. So the same way you wouldn’t do laundry one sock at a time you shouldn’t pay bills for instance one by one. Instead batching them together weekly is a much more effective use of your time! But I think the same principle can be applied to ‘unbatching’. Putting together tasks that you’re not going to do! Read more

How to Break Down Your Goals

Whatever project you have in mind, whether it’s writing a book, planning a big dinner party or starting your own side hustle, these big ideas can quickly become overwhelming. Thinking about all the work you have left to do can make you feel like giving up before you even begin..

To help me feel less overwhelmed I  use a little trick called “backtiming.” This is a concept I picked up from my day job as a TV news producer. If your show finishes at 11pm, that’s it, you can’t over run. So to make the news work on time we start with the end in mind and work backwards. This guarantees that you’ll finish on time.

This method has multiple real world applications, if you’re a whiz in the kitchen you probably use this method to ensure all the various elements of your dish will finish at the same time. You can also use backtiming to plan out your future goals. For more on how backtiming works check this out.

It also  helps to break up your goals into smaller, more manageable pieces. You can focus on one of these lists at a time to prevent yourself from getting distracted by all the other pieces of the puzzle. Read more

Why You Didn’t Get Everything Done Last Year and How to Change That

The new year brings with it hope for the future but also a little guilt as well. Guilt because we look back at the previous year and think “oh I didn’t get to do as much as I set out to do.”

It happens and it’s disappointing.  And nothing reminds us more of this than looking at that unfulfilled bucket list.  Or starting yet another day with the best of intentions only to get sucked into your old roommate’s vacation photos on Facebook and then getting nothing done. We all promise ourselves that next year will be different.

However that’s quite statistically unlikely, given that only 8% of people achieve their resolutions!

So how do you break out of the vicious cycle? It’s all starts with how you make these goals. Here’ are the steps you need to finally cross off some of the most difficult tasks on your list!

Imagine next year’s Christmas letter – Every year people will send out Christmas letters detailingall the exciting trips they’ve been on t and all their new jobs/houses/kids/etc.  Whether or not you regularly write one of these, productivity guru and author Laura Vanderkam explains in her TED talk about  time management how you can use them to focus your goals. Laura suggests you imagine what you would write on next year’s letter today.  That vision includes the 3-5 key things that would have to happen for it to be a successful year. Once you have picked those things you have goals for the next year – now you just need an action plan.

Prioritize – Once you’ve picked your goals you don’t need to roar ahead, all guns blazing trying to achieve everything at once. Write out the steps you will need to take to achieve each goal and create a priority list of what is more urgent. Things that need to be started on right away, like training for a marathon, take top priority. You will need to start carving out time in your calendar for training and book your place in the race. Less important things like cleaning out the garage can wait until a later date (but this doesn’t mean you should ignore them altogether!) For an easy way to figure out how to prioritize your new goals, sign up for the FREE PDF I created for you called “Prioritize Like a Pro.”

Find the why – I wrote recently about a talk Julie Morgenstern gave, where she explained how she always used to hoard cookbooks.  And she couldn’t throw them away until she understood why she kept them. The reason — she kept them because they represented the mother she wanted to be. (Isn’t that heartbreaking?)  Similarly you can’t successfully do-over your goals from last year until you understand why you failed. Perhaps they were too big, or you didn’t give yourself enough time to do any of them or any research that would have helped. Sometimes you have to realize that maybe you won’t ever do it and toss the goal all together. We’re not all perfect, sometimes you have to let go of those goals you’ve never quite gotten around to and be OK with it. I, for instance will never learn to speak French. That’s one goal checked off by default!

What are some of your goals for 2017?

Expert List Techniques You’re Not Doing – But Should! (+ a freebie!)

If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you’re probably a pretty savvy list maker. So how do you take it to the next level?

Getting the most out of your list, firstly, means understanding how priorities work. For example, today you might want to pick up groceries and also start planning the first chapter of your book. (That’s two separate lists – I’m sure you already know that!)  But how do you make sure that the here and now doesn’t override your long term goals?

Split your lists into lists: Immediate Priority vs Long-Term Priority

Not only do I believe in having multiple lists, but those lists can be split into different categories. We aren’t talking about daily to-do lists here to be clear. These lists are IMMEDIATE PRIORITY vs. LONG-TERM PRIORITY lists.

I like to use Evernote to keep my goals separate – and I split them into 2 notebooks. Your active list is what you are going to do for the week (like writing that book chapter!) or other important things that are on your mind – like knocking off some of your Christmas shopping! In another notebook I store my long-term priority list. This is where I keep all my ongoing projects and reminders for things I need to do later in the month or later in the year.

For example, if your goal for now is to write chapter one of your book, it’s a good idea to keep your outlines for the later chapters in this notebook. You don’t need them right now, but you’ll want to have them handy for reference. Or you can keep links to the Google Docs where you keep your notes or inspiration in this folder as well.  Anything that will make it easier for you to start crossing off tasks is helpful.

Be very specific  

With your IMMEDIATE PRIORITY list you need to be very specific. For example, I make my daily to-do lists at the end of each day. I think of every email or phone call I want to make the next day and I clearly write out what needs to be done.  Instead of “emails” I will write “send an email to Trisha about Monday’s event” This helps me to keep on task during the day.  I’m also automatically prioritizing as I write my list.  

To learn how to do that sign up for my free giveaway “Prioritize Like a Pro.”

With LONG-TERM PRIORITY lists it’s good to have an overarching idea of what you want to do, but it’s best not to get too bogged down in the details. To go back to the book example, you would set yourself a deadline for when you want to complete each chapter and write and outline for each of them. But you wouldn’t plan the days you’re going to write it until you’re closer to that deadline. Then you can pull from that list when the time comes to make your daily to-do lists.

Plus these lists can overlap each other – by that I mean you’ll be using them at the same time. So you should reference them and pull items from the long-term priority list and stick it on the immediate priority lists. Eventually it will graduate to the daily to-do list. Think of each list as a stepping stone – as you move from one to the next you’re closer to completing the task.

The reason I keep these separate is so that you can focus more on what’s on your daily to-do list without getting too distracted by those big goals. I would recommend checking in on your long term priority list every week or so.  This way you know what tasks you have coming up. But you won’t feel overwhelmed by everything you have to do.  

If you’d like to check out my system to Prioritize Like a Pro fill in the form below and I’ll send you my free giveaway.  






 

How Do You Say List in Portuguese?

You know when you do something and you aren’t quite sure how it will turn out? That’s what it’s been like for me to publish my book Listful Thinking. This January will mark two years since it came out and I’m still grateful for all the opportunities it’s given me.

I’ve had the chance to meet some of you face to face at book signings and talk with people all over the world about lists. Plus, I got to record the audiobook version of the book this summer.  I’m also excited to announce that Listful Thinking has also made it onto the Apple iBooks bestseller list!

I’m thrilled to be mentioned with other classic titles like “The Secret” and “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” When I first published my book I had no idea there were so many list makers out there. What I certainly didn’t expect was how many different languages the book would be published in as well.  Right now it’s in Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Arabic, Dutch, Indonesian and just recently in Portuguese as well. I’m so happy to welcome all the new Portuguese list makers to this blog.

unnamed-8The book has also allowed me to do some speaking gigs, which I really love. I’ll be speaking at the MA Conference for Women on Dec 8th. I’ll be leading the session appropriately named Listful Thinking. And I’ll also be hosting a session with two execs from Boston Scientific, leading the discussion about work/life balance. I’ve written about this quite a lot. And I’m interested to get their take on how they manage it as well.  It resonates with all of us.  If you’re at the conference, please put “stop by to say hello to Paula” on your list.