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“Thimble List” vs. Bucket List for Joy and Mindfulness

You know the phrase “stop and smell the roses?”

I always thought it sounded a little cheesy. But now that we’re in the seventh month of quarantine (wow!), I’m starting to think that whoever thought of that phrase has the right idea.

I used to be all about bucket lists, but I want to introduce you to the “Thimble List” — AKA “the stop and smell the roses list.” 

Bucket lists are where you put your big goals, like publishing a book or visiting a national park. These are great goals and bucket lists are an amazing way to keep track of them. 

But now that the COVID-19 pandemic has made our worlds feel smaller and slowed everything down, I’m all about focusing on gratitude — like stopping to smell the roses (through my mask, of course). 

Here’s how you can write a “Thimble List” to reduce your stress and start being more mindful.

1) Think about where you already find joy in your life.

Is your morning coffee or tea the highlight of your day? Or walking your dog in the evening? Taking a long bath? 

Brainstorm a few things in your routine that are already making you feel happy.

Then think about why those things make you happy. These are things you can add to your Thimble List, such as “notice the trees changing on my walk” and “practice gratitude for the smell of my coffee.”

2)  Keep it fresh. 

If you’re having trouble thinking about what brings you joy in your current routine, think about the things that you miss from the pre-COVID world. How can you bring elements of those things into your life? 

Add something like “start looking for birds whenever I’m outside” to your Thimble List. (I’ve become obsessed with doing this by the way and love the Merlin Bird ID app to help identify my new friends.)

You’ll be surprised by how big and beautiful familiar places feel when you start trying to notice new things.  

3) Prioritize what brings you happiness.

Once you know what small, everyday things bring you joy, make sure multitasking isn’t undermining your mindfulness. Give yourself enough time to really enjoy that bath or cup of coffee or tea.

If you try to rush through it, you won’t really enjoy it and you’ll probably be more stressed and less productive that day. 

This is similar to the Japanese idea of kotsu-kotsu, which is doing one thing at a time and really focusing on that thing.

Making a Thimble List helps you take advantage of all the opportunities for joy that are already present in your daily routine. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – sometimes you need to look at your day through the eyes of an intern. It will help you gain a new perspective of how awesome it really is. 

What’s on your Thimble List? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

Stop Multitasking and Practice Kotsu-Kotsu

Do you ever find yourself answering texts or emails during Zoom meetings? If you do, you’re not the only one.

Multitasking seems like a great way to get more done in less time. But it’s actually undermining your productivity and causing more stress if you do it all the time.

Why? Because humans are just not wired to multitask. 

According to psychology studies at the University of Utah, 98% of people can’t multitask effectively. 

Many cultures are ahead of the game on this. While Americans are all about multitasking, the Japanese actually have a word for doing just the opposite. Focusing on one thing at a time is called “kotsu-kotsu.” 

Are you ready to give up on multitasking and try it out? You should be.

Listen, we all know deep down that multitasking doesn’t really work. Look at texting and driving — it’s a dangerous combination.

Well, so is texting and Zooming. Just in a different way. 

When you’re not devoting your full attention to the task at hand, you’re undermining your ability to bring all your skills to the table. You’re also making it hard for yourself to find joy in your projects.

The science backs me up: It’s time to ditch multitasking. So how can you embrace kotsu-kotsu?

1. Create task-specific time blocks.

Kotsu-kotsu calls for simplifying your routine and not taking on multiple tasks at once. It also means fully focusing on what you’re doing in the present moment.

Doing one thing at a time is the first step to being completely present and prepared to find joy in your work, be more productive, and reduce your stress. 

What does this look like?

Here’s an example: make lunch for eating only. Don’t also catch up on emails! Or if you take a morning walk, enjoy that walk — never schedule a work call for that time or listen to a podcast. 

I know it’s tempting but I’m pushing you to try it. 

Making room for task-specific blocks of time is the first step to incorporating the kotsu-kotsu principle into your routine.

2. Change your mindset.

Taking that phone-free morning walk sounds great, but if you’re preoccupied with what you need to do when you get back to your home office, you’re not practicing kotsu-kotsu.

Be mindful about how you approach each individual task. Are you thinking about all the other things you need to do? Or are you completely devoted to what you’re currently doing?

Being mindful will look like different things for different people. Making lists is one key tool that can help you get into the right mindset.

Figuring out what kinds of lists will serve you best and then staying accountable to those list-making routines will help you declutter your brain and stay focused on the present. 

This is something I talk about in my LinkedIn Learning course, “The Power of Lists to Get Stuff Done.” You can check that out here. 

3. Elevate your space. 

It’s really hard to be present and have a good mindset if you’re working in a messy environment. Having a clean, organized, intentionally-designed home office space is key to making kotsu-kotsu part of your routine.

You also need to have the right tools and tech. A raised computer to minimize neck strain and noise-canceling headphones are two simple ways to upgrade your setup.

I actually have a course on the tools you need to give your work-from-home office a productivity makeover. You can check that out here.

I hope these tips help you think about using kotsu-kotsu in your daily routine. Do you have tips for ditching multitasking? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

Five Dictation Apps to Boost Productivity

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.

One of my favorite productivity hacks is using dictation apps. Dictating is an underrated tool for getting more done. It’s really helped me curb procrastination by making it easy for me to quickly send out text messages and emails. Video can also be a powerful productivity tool but there’s something to be said for straight up audio as well. 

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Behind the Scenes of My LinkedIn Learning Shoot

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.

I was supposed to be in LA shooting my two LinkedIn Learning courses based on my books Listful Thinking and Listful Living

But because of Covid-19, I obviously couldn’t get on a plane and travel.

Instead, LinkedIn sent me all the equipment to shoot the courses in my apartment. My husband Jay helped me set up the lights and camera, and he even ran the teleprompter! 

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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. 

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