I found myself being so angry at myself while I was working full time because I had all these things I wanted to do, but never enough time to do them. I did, though, have time to watch TV shows at lunch, and spend time on Facebook/Pinterest/etc. I was also having a hard time keeping up with my design clients because I just flat out didn't want to do ANYTHING when I got home from work at 5, let alone make a good dinner and tackle even the tiniest of projects.
While trying to find a solution to my productivity dilemma, I stumbled upon this piece of advice:
There is a legendary story that in the 1920's, Charles Schwab (at the time one of the wealthiest individuals in the United States and founder of Bethlehem steel) wanted to get more done each day for himself and his executive staff. He was approached by Ivy Lee, a public relations expert, who told him a "secret" to increase their productivity.
Mr Lee told Mr Schwab to implement this secret methodology and then, after he had seen the results of the method, to come back and pay him what he thought it was worth. Mr. Schwab and his executives tried the idea for a month and received such amazing results that Mr. Schwab wrote a check to Mr. Lee for $25,000, which at that time was a huge sum of money.
Here's the trick: At the end of each day, write a list of the six most important things to do for the next day and order them from one to six. In the morning start with number one. Keep working on it until completed, then move to number two. Keep working on this one until completed, and then move to the next item on the list. Continue this way until completing all the priority items on the list.
I decided to take this a step further, because I need a little flexibility in my day. I need to be able to choose what to prioritize or what to work on. Enter, the six list:
I printed two to a sheet, cut them in half, and got them bound into a little pad at Office Max. Since I'm not working anymore, that top section has been modified to be "baby" focused. A lot of you might be thinking that 24 things in a day is too many. You're right. I shoot to get 3-4 done in each section, but by listing out all 6, in case I'm feeling great I don't just sit around saying "my list is done!" I know the next thing I want to work on immediately. Also, some of my 6 things are very small. I've had a hard time remembering to take my prenatal with food, so under baby, the first 4 normally look like this:
- Good Breakfast
- Take Prenatal
- Good Lunch
- Take Iron
These might not seem like a big deal, but I know myself well enough to list it because it won't happen otherwise. And when the days all blur together, it's nice to be able to look and say "yep. I did take my supplements today."
Also, when I'm filling out what I want to get done the following day, I already have 2-3 things in each section (because they weren't crossed off) so making the list each night only takes a minute or two. And because it's in a notepad, while I'm working on the list, if I notice something that needs to get done the following day, I can just write it in, instead of hoping I remember that night.
Other things that make the lists are: "plan FHE, shower & ready, catch up finances, pay bills, pack Cam's lunch, read hypnobirthing, take a nap, dishes, sew 1 diaper, deposit cash, grocery shopping, wipe down bathroom, make bed, make dinner, Julie's insert designs, fold laundry, make freezer breakfasts," etc. Some are bigger than others. Some take more time than others, but being reminded of the little things that need to be done is often just as important as making sure the big things get done. Before bed each night, I ask Cam if he has any requests. This makes sure that he doesn't come home from work and ask if something got done that we haven't clearly discussed earlier. He knows there's a time at the end of the day where he can put something on my list.
Clearly, all 4 categories probably won't fit with everyone's situation. I made a six list for my sister Lindsay at her request. She has said that it has helped her get so much done during the day. Which is when I figured I should probably share with the world, because if something works this great for two people as different as me and her, it will probably work great for a lot of you too! Hers looks a bit like this:
The bottom can be used for phone numbers, reminders, dinner ideas, etc.
This design is copyrighted, but I'm happy to make a custom, print-ready file for anyone who wants it. I was thinking $5 for the time it takes to modify would be fair.