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Last week I briefly touched on my post-sports history and the struggles I had with adjusting to new goals and new ventures. The systems I described were high-level, and this week I wanted to dig deeper into the specific processes I use to organize my days and increase my productivity.
These systems were created over a long period of time and tested through lots of personal struggle and mixed results. The things that survived have served me well, and I hope they can help you organize your days also.
1) Night Ritual: Success tomorrow, in large part, depends on what you do today. Specifically, using my night ritual to organize for the coming day has been helpful for me. There are two key pieces of this ritual for me:
- Brain dump: I write down every stray through that is taking up space in my mind. This is often a large list of all outstanding tasks, ideas I want to investigate further, or interesting things I encountered that day. This helps me organize my thoughts and keeps me from ruminating on them when I lay down to go to sleep.
- Priority task list: I split this process between my night ritual and my morning ritual the following day. At night, I write down all the things I need to do the next day or in the coming days. In the morning, I prioritize that list and pick the key things that must be done immediately.
2) Morning ritual: In the morning, I spend time asking myself 3 key questions. These help me focus for the day and organize my efforts.
- What am I grateful for? Listing 1-3 things that I'm grateful for works wonders for putting my mind in a positive place. I aim to be as specific as possible (i.e. "I'm grateful for date night yesterday with my wife" instead of just "I'm grateful for my wife.")
- What are today's priority targets? I look at the brain dump from the night before, look at my list, and pick the top 3 things I absolutely must get done today. My day is a success if I accomplish those tasks, regardless of what else gets finished. If one of them is particularly long or involved, it's perfectly fine to break it into smaller pieces and spread it out over many days, etc.
- Are these targets in line with my goals? I briefly reflect on whether the things I'm working on that day have value to me, and if I'm constructing the life I want. These don't take away from my deeper reflections that I spoke about a few weeks ago, but act as daily calibrations to keep me on track.
3) Organize task list: Now that I've created my priority list, I use the Todoist app (iOS, Android) to actually organize things. There are a few things I love about Todoist that help me stay organized and on track:
- I can create tasks with simple language. For example, "Write every day" creates a daily, recurring task labeled "Write" which is helpful for organizing my Green Habits from my Lean List Method. You can create recurring tasks "weekly" or even "every 1st of the month." Additionally, you can create non-recurring tasks for specific days like "write paper tomorrow" or "call Larry Thursday."
- Todoist allows for organizing your list by priority. The keyword for these categories is !!1, !!2, !!3, and !!4 (i.e. Pay rent tomorrow !!1), but you can also set them via the app or after the fact by clicking on a task. During my nighttime ritual, I can fill up Todoist with all of my outstanding tasks; the next morning, I can organize them by priority to help me focus.
- It's easy to move tasks to other days. Once I create my priority list, I may realize that there is no way I will get to certain items on the list. I can send them to tomorrow or later in the week with one tap, which allows me to keep my task list clean. There is psychology behind having a smaller task list; if it's too cluttered, you will have a hard time focusing and will struggle to complete any tasks at all.
4) Focused work: Once I've organized my day and prioritized my tasks, I need to create focused periods of time to actually get things done. I do everything possible to create a flow state for these deep work periods. For me, that means removing any distractions, putting my phone on "do not disturb" mode, and using a Pomodoro timer. The timer I prefer is Flow (which I linked last week), but there are many free options. The key is to have this timer viewable without being able to see notifications on the device.
5) Reflect: At the end of the day or during my night ritual, I reflect briefly on the previous day. The key here isn't to spend a ton of time harping on things, but simply to see how successful I was and if the day moved me closer to my goals. Not every day will be a success, and that's perfectly fine! It's important to take some time and look back at the day regardless.
This isn't an exhaustive list of everything I do, and my systems and processes change on occasion. These items are simply the core of whatever daily rituals I have tried over the years.
Some days I don't do all of these things. Like you, I'm human and I'm not always able to check all the boxes. There are days where priority tasks don't get done, rituals are incomplete, or plans change mid-day. These situations are all fine, and part of the process.
One of the biggest rules I aim to follow is that I don't let two days in a row get away from me. If one day goes awry, I double down on my efforts the following day. Two days starts to form a habit, for good or bad. Make sure you are controlling which habits you form, instead of letting your days control you!
The most interesting things I've encountered this week:
What I'm reading: "What Is A Growth Mindset And How Do You Develop It?" by Arzu Daniel
Many of you may already be familiar with the concept of a fixed mindset vs a growth mindset, but this article is a great primer on the topic. It gives a good overview of the differences between each and some basic strategies for developing a growth mindset in your life.
For a deeper dive: Mindset by Carol Dweck
The book that started it all. This is on my "must read" list for anyone asking for recommendations. It explores how pliable our brains really are, and Dweck's work is referenced by almost everyone working in the fields of mindset and sports psychology for good reason.
The FTX catastrophe: Summary by the Milk Road (Links below)
For anyone following the crypto space, or likely almost everyone outside of it now, you've probably heard about one of the largest crypto exchanges, FTX, imploding over the last couple weeks. I have had a lot of people ask me in passing to explain what happened, and I find the summary by the crew over at the Milk Road newsletter to be the best (and easiest to understand) that I've read. For anyone interested, these 5 (short) posts cover almost everything:
(If you don't want to read all 5, the first couple will give you a pretty in-depth overview without some of the final details!)
The Lean List Goal Setting Template
This goal-setting system was born out of a desire to help my clients who were struggling to put words into action. It went through many iterations until it evolved into its current version. If you want a complete goal-setting system that will help you do a self-assessment and create meaningful habits, all with examples provided, look no further!
|Lean List Templates|
I tried to make these templates affordable, but you can get them for FREE if you refer 5 friends using your personalized link below.