Goals

Why Friday is the Best Day for Weekly Planning

Productivity experts have been preaching about weekly planning for years. And most of them will tell you to do your planning on Sundays. I used to be one of them.

The thinking was that you should already have your week planned out by Monday. That way, you could wake up and hit the ground running. No time wasted on deciding what to do.

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And it's not a terrible theory. Monday and Tuesday are our most productive days of the week, after all. You don't want to waste them.

But here's why the productivity experts are wrong: Sunday is a terrible planning day.

It is.

First of all, Sundays are on a weekend. We fill our weekends with projects, social engagements and family time. For many of us, it's  also an opportunity to catch up on leisure activities. Not task planning.

Are you a workaholic? For me, Sunday is an opportunity to dig into my business and get a lot done. Why would I block out an hour or two in the middle of this glorious, productive day, to plan my week?

Here's the thing. Planning is REALLY important for success. But we need to do it on a less intrusive day.

Why Friday?

  • It's the least productive day of the week. Turn your unproductive Friday afternoons into productive planning and thinking time!

  • You can schedule your appointments and meetings for the next week ahead of time. People will usually get back to you with confirmation before they leave the office for the day.

  • You can allocate time for your goals. Block this time for deep work and high value projects into your week so you can make solid progress on your goals. Things are bound to pop up, but don't let them distract you from your master plan.

  • Knowing there's a plan for Monday will take away any worries or stress about the next week over the weekend.

  • You can schedule more purposeful leisure time over the weekend.

I urge you to give this a try. Break the Sunday weekly planning cycle and join me in the glory of Friday planning. You're going to love it. 

Talk soon,

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PS- If your week is atypical, Friday may not work for you. I get it. So then, look at your life and determine what your least productive, lowest energy day is, and choose THAT day. That's your planning day. 

PPS- If you DO try it, I would love to hear how it worked for you. Leave a comment below and tell me about it! 

 

Feeling Lost? Here's How to Discover What You Really Want.

A few months back, I launched a primitive version of the 30-Day Goal Crush Challenge. I'm designing it for Team Better Life as a self-guided course with accountability. I knew how to help people achieve their goals, I had modules planned and fancy automations. So I threw it up on social media and a few brave souls signed up.

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It failed miserably. Now, I am saying that with a smile on my face. For entrepreneurs, failure is a good thing. Often the only way to learn is to fail. And, about 2 weeks into the program I had to completely abandon ship.

Here's what I learned.

I had made some basic assumptions when I designed the program that were, just wrong. People who want help achieving their goals

  • sometimes don't know what their goals are.

  • can be confused on the difference between a goal and a project.

  • might completely change their goal after two weeks.

  • think they have a goal but they're really trying to build a habit.

  • try to start the challenge a week late because they forgot about it.

The list goes on. Needless to say, this was all really useful information when I designed the beta version (which will be opening for testing soon!).

Why am I telling you this?

Because a lot of these lessons are based on participants having a clarity problem. I discovered that many people don't know what they want.

They don't have a concrete vision or goal for their future. Often they assign themselves a vague goal but have no real passion behind it.

That lost feeling struck a chord with me. I know what it feels like to be there. This experience has inspired some fabulous future projects for EO, but I wanted to give you some help now.

If you are unsure what you want from life. If you have no idea what your goal is or where you're going, this post is for you. Next time you're feeling uninspired or listless, try one of the following exercises:

1) Write Your Vision For The Future. Visioning is super underrated. It's one of the most effective ways to find your passion.

Your Vision is your picture of what success looks like at a particular point in the future.

To properly craft your vision, you will need to perform the Hot Pen Technique. Take 20-40 minutes and start writing a Vision Statement for your life - but don't stop writing! Write quickly and write from the heart.

Vision Statements should be

  • set in the future, yet stated in the present. It's an affirmation statement.

  • described in enough detail that you'll know when you've arrived there.

  • focused on the end result (the "what" not the "how").

  • unconstrained by what seems possible.

Go for something really great. Get personal. Write a Vision for your future that makes you feel really good.

If you're having trouble with getting started, try outlining your vision statement first. Think of newspaper headlines you can bullet point throughout your vision. Once your outline is intact, develop each point further.

It's not going to be perfect at first, and you might not love everything you come up with in your first draft. That's ok. The point is to give yourself pure writing time. Let your subconscious take over.

When you've finished writing your first draft, take a look at it. Then refine it. Keep editing it until it's complete, compelling, and clear.

When it's ready, hang it up somewhere and start working towards that vision!

For more great resources on visioning, check out these free workshops.

2) Make a List of 100 Dreams. Caroline Ceniza-Levine, a career coach, uses this exercise with her university students. Basically, you create a completely unedited list of anything you might want to do or have more of in your life. It's like a long bucket list.

This is another Hot Pen method - don't stop writing until you hit 100! By committing to 100 items, you'll reveal your most unbiased dreams. Write without judgment. Just let it flow.

Once you have your complete list, take a look at it. Everything that is easy, cheap, or free should be done immediately. Do you want to start keeping fresh flowers in your office? What about hanging that photo you've had leaning against the wall for 5 years? If it takes less than 15 minutes, do it. Make it happen.

Then pick a couple of the remaining items and start laying the foundation for achieving them. The bigger the dream the more satisfying the reward!

3) Go back to your childhood. Most people who do what they love can follow a thread all the way back to when they were kids. The activities you enjoyed doing when you were young are clues to what will make you happy as an adult.

Take up a lost hobby or try a new twist on an old past time. Talk to people who knew you young and ask them what they remember you doing. Consider it your own personal research project.

Finding your purpose and gaining clarity on who you are and what you want can be some of the most important work you do. Take your time and enjoy the process of discovery. You might not find your end game with the first exercise, but that's normal.

Your life's mission unveils itself in layers. The key is to start peeling them back. Sometimes you have to fail a lot to find your direction. That's okay.

Embrace the journey. Everything will come together in time.

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How to Plan for Better Down Time

"American Adults watch an average of five hours and four minutes of tv a day". As I read that sentence, my heart aches a little.

It's not that I don't love a good Netflix binge or movie night. As a natural homebody, I am as inclined as anyone else to snuggle up on the couch and stream. But I know that tv time is not really helping me relax.

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Despite an average of 5 hours a day in front of the tv, Americans feel like they're not getting any downtime.

Because they're not.

Humans need time to recover from their hectic, over-scheduled lives.  People think they're relaxing in front of the tv, but they're just passing time.

Here's why I'm reducing my tv intake this year:

1) It's Passive Time NOT Leisure Time. Basically, it's wasted time. You'll never get those hours back and most of what we watch is not touching us on some personal level.

Let's define what Leisure Time IS. It has two main components:

  • It is something you undertake for its own sake.

  • It is active, requiring our full skill and attention.

Learning French or playing basketball are leisure activities. To get better at them, you have to actively engage in the activity. And that immersion is what causes you to truly relax and let go of your other worries. Challenging hobbies recharge us and reduce our levels of exhaustion.

2) It's bad for your relationships. You can't bond and connect with other humans when everyone is staring at the tube. This is not quality time. Instead of zoning out in front of the tv, try playing a board game or having a 10-minute chat before bed.

Look for ways for you and your partner to learn together, converse and laugh together. Don't waste precious hours with those you love staring at the tv. Have a weekly martini-making contest or take a class together. Instead of sitting down after dinner, tackle the dishes together and then walk the dog.

Consider lingering over the table after a meal with a nightcap. Stay a while. Enjoy each other's company.

3) Watching TV doesn't help me achieve any of my goals. I want to do many things in my lifetime, and watching television is not in service of any of them. My time is valuable and my goals are my number one priority. Letting go of what distracts from my big dreams can be freeing.

4) There are actually other things you can do in your off time besides watch tv. Just THINK about all the stuff you would do if you had an extra 5 hours a day. Replace your tv time with THAT.

It may sound counter-intuitive coming from a productivity expert, but downtime is key. You need to rest and recharge. Embracing the lost art of leisure actually allows us to live more purposefully.

This is an investment in your quality of life. You'll do better work because you're actually re-charging and you'll add peace to your day.

How?

Start to savor the moment. Schedule your leisure activities with intention and then fully immerse yourself in them. Whether it's reading a book for 30 minutes before bed, or savoring a screen-free cup of coffee in the morning. Take a quiet stroll after dinner. It's important to live in the moment and unwind with purpose.

Also, stop over-booking your social engagements. If you're always running to the next dinner or party, when are you savoring the simple things? When are you getting your downtime?

I know this can be a difficult shift to make because it's not our natural inclination to seek leisure. But limiting our hours wasted (in front of the tv, or otherwise) will increase our happiness.

And increasing happiness is a very good use of your time.

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How to Conquer Big Habits by Starting Small

We're two weeks into 2018, and by now, most people have already failed at their New Year's Resolutions.

Are you in this boat? Are you frustrated because you thought this year would be different? Instead of packing mason jar salads in your lunch, you've gone back to grabbing takeout. Or, you thought you'd keep the house clean but now the dishes and laundry are starting to pile up again.

Why does this happen?

Because most humans bite off more than they can chew, right off the bat. And if you push yourself too hard too fast, you're guaranteed to fail.

But I'm here to give you a bit of good news!

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You can still achieve your resolutions this year. Really! Change up your game plan to ramp up to your goal gradually. By taking small steps and being honest with yourself, you can get where you want to be.

Let's say you want to get in shape for 2018. Ask yourself, what is my CURRENT fitness level? Often, people who resolve to get in shape are not very active. It's important to know where you are now, so you can come up with a realistic plan of attack.

If walking to your car in the morning is the most activity you do all day, you need to lower your expectations. Trying to commit to a 45-day HIIT program right out the gate is a recipe for failure. Avoid burnout by setting a lower target. A better plan would look like this:

  • Week 1 - Do 20 Minutes of Physical Activity 3x weekly (any activity)

  • Week 2 - Do 20 Minutes of Physical Activity 5x weekly (any activity)

  • Weeks 3 & 4 - Do 20 minutes of Physical Activity daily (any activity)

  • Weeks 5 & 6 - Do 30 minutes of Physical Activity daily (any activity)

At this point, you're starting to get used to being more active. Now it's time to slowly introduce the program you really want to tackle to reach your goal. If you've been doing yoga this whole time, start to mix in new exercises a few times a week. Keep ramping up until you are ready to commit to that HIIT program.

It might take you a few months to get there, that's ok. It's not a race. The point is to GET THERE. And taking 3 months to work up to it is better than binging and burning out in 2 weeks. Lasting change takes time and it's ok to look at your goals as a daily work in progress.

This ramp up principal works for any habit or major life change you're trying to create for yourself. Rome wasn't built in a day. Give yourself a fighting chance at success by methodically working towards it.

For more info about how to build new habits, check out my Free Habit Creation Guide!

Now, get back out there! Tackle those resolutions one more time. Make 2018 your best year yet!

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How to Be the Most Productive Person in the World

Getting things done (GTD) is really all about logistics.

You have a concrete number of hours in your day and how you choose to spend that time determines how you GTD. Sounds simple, right?

Not for most people. Did you know that 89% of people do not finish their daily to-do lists? It's true!

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You can't make a to-do list and expect to crush the day, because, there's a lot more going on in your life than just your list.  You have countless facets of your day to manage, and a list doesn't get you very far in achieving anything. 

So, what's a busy gal to do? How do you conquer your list each day?

It all comes down to your schedule.  

Your schedule is the nexus of planning and information. It's how you do everything: your activities, meetings, events, travel, etc. 

Without your schedule, you're toast. 

It's not enough to create a to-do list.  Because, if it's not on your calendar, it's not to getting done.  You need to have your actionable tasks on your schedule.  

The most productive people in the world have schedules, not to do lists - for this exact reason!

This is why the EO Daily To-Do List has your schedule down one column and space for tasks in the column alongside it.  You have to decide what you're doing and when you're going to do it. 

That's easy enough.  But there's more! 

There's a hidden benefit to this approach because it forces you to realize your limits. It's pretty hard to have an overflowing to-do list once you run out of room on your schedule. You have to decide what to do now and what to do later. 

Which brings us to the next phase in becoming the most productive person in the world: rank your to-dos. It's not just about what's important. You have to focus on what will give you the most forward motion towards your goals

Enter the Task Priority Matrix. 

This magical worksheet will take your productivity to the next level. It forces you to make all the decisions to determine your next most important tasks (MIT). And when you're done filling it in, you have a visual representation of where everything falls into the mix. 

Basically, it's the gatekeeper.

And every schedule needs a sentinel. Nothing goes on the calendar until it's made its way through the Task Priority Matrix. Not a thing. 

See, your time is your most precious resource. If you are not using it to your greatest advantage, you're wasting it. 

The Task Priority Matrix is your benchmark for success. Use it to plan your days and weeks. Every time you cross something off, you'll be able to move something else into its place. 

Now, you may be thinking, "not everything will fit on my Task Priority Matrix." You probably have many running lists of items to take care of and, it's true, they won't all fit. And you DO still need these lists. What do you do with them? 

You put them in your digital brain. 

For those of you not familiar with the concept, the digital brain is your second brain. 

Basically, your real-life brain is not a storage device. It was never meant to be. Having endless things to remember is not healthy for it. And we have more information coming at us all the time. 

You need to create a digital database where you can store the information you have to retrieve "someday." 

There are many program options to use for your digital brain, but we recommend OneNote. I have made a starter version of this digital brain in the Library

It's called the Household Manager Notebook. And it's awesome!

I included pre-populated forms and checklists to get you started. And the best part is, you can completely customize it according to your needs. 

This is also where you keep sets of running lists. 

Came across a travel article for a trip you want to take recently? Put it on your running list of travel research articles. Need to access prescription information for your dog on the fly? Access it in their digital medical records. Have a list of home maintenance projects to attend to? Put it on the list!

I know. It's amazing. 

Now that you have your 3 tools for success, we need to put this all together into a system.

Here's what you need to do.

1) Update your Household Manager Notebook in real-time. 

Every time something comes up that you need to store/remember/come back to, pop it in the HHMN.

2) Update Your Priority Matrix and Plan Your Week

I do this every Sunday. As I fill in my TPM, I reference lists and reminders inside my HHMN. Catch the workshop replay on Boosting Your Productivity with Weekly Planning here.

3) Fill in the EO Daily Agenda each day according to your weekly plan. Effectively scheduling your tasks!

That's it. Now you know the secrets to being the most productive person in the world!

go forth and conquer life!

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PS- Imagine how amazing the world would be if we all got better at accomplishing our goals. If you know anyone who needs help being more productive, share this post!