...is a to-do list. Because if you don't do it, everything else you have to do becomes optional.
These letters, which at first glance seem completely meaningless, are the cornerstones of my life. When I look back, this pile of letters that I write down every day presents how productively I spent that day, or how poorly I wasted my time.
Let me explain their meaning. The first group refers to which constructive habits I practiced:
- E – Got up early
- B – Breathing exercise
- C – Cold shower
- P – Push-ups
- K – Kegel exercises
- N – Neck exercises
- W – Went for a walk
- M – Meditated
The second group shows which bad habits I have overcome:
- Y – Didn't watch any YouTube video
- Q – Didn't play any game
- C – Didn't drink coffee
- D – Skipped dinner
- P – Put the phone down except for communication
This list surely is something you need to customize according to your personal goals and habits, but you should have gotten the point (Passed J yep, I'll leave that to your imagination).
Now consider such a day. In other words, a day spent by applying all the practices you have learned about the lives of successful people; a day when you got rid of all your bad habits that keep your mood down, kill your time and rot your brain.
And now, imagine a full month of performance like this. You look at your phone and see plenty of above letters covering the screen. You had a hard time at first; but after the first few days of noting down your activities, you held on to your streak, and never broke it.
How do you think that month went? What might have changed in your life? Or is everything the same as it ever was?
Before answering, let's talk about the second fundamental bridge between you and your goals, namely to do lists, over the following formula:
Reduction of brain load + Staisfaction of task completion = Productivity
Unless you put what you need to do down on paper, your brain has to constantly remember and remind you of these tasks. This leads to unnecessary fatigue of this precious organ, whose every cell you desperately need. From the moment you write them down, though...This mental load that your inner laziness is trying to sweep under the carpet, suddenly transforms into a 'game' consisting of levels you have to pass and bosses to defeat. Each item on the list is now a matter of honor that you need to clear up, a task that gives your ego a taste of victory when ticked.
Preparing a to-do list that won't take you even a minute a day first manifests your goals, and then it establishes a connection between you and them – even if some seem almost unattainable.
How should the list be ordered, what kind of tasks should be included?
There are several different ways to create to-do lists, but some are more effective than the others. The basic rules you should follow are:
- Use a pen and paper. Although electronic devices can provide you with some useful tools, they can't give you the satisfaction of a Pilot pen dancing on an old-fashioned agenda. There is a bold tick by scribbling repeatedly, and then there is a single click of the mouse – you deserve the first one.
- Do not use different colors or categories. This goes against our basic principle of 'reducing brain load' when we set out. You'll waste time thinking, "Which one should I prioritize, which one should I start with?" and you'll probably mark 9 of the 10 jobs as 'most important' in red. This will intimidate you eventually and you will not be able to tick all the boxes. Instead, simply list all tasks from top to bottom.
- Start with the tough ones. The first hours of the day, if you have done your morning routine, will be the time when your mood is at its peak. In order to benefit from this energy fully, first engage in activities that will take the longest to complete and will challenge you the most.
- Prepare tomorrow's list, today. When you roll up your sleeves in the morning, you should encounter minimal resistance, but remembering what to do and writing it down on paper will put extra strain on your brain. The night before is an ideal time to prepare that list. Also, for instance, if you have a meeting in 3 weeks with a definite date, you should include in advance that meeting as the first task of that day in your agenda.
- Have three separate lists: Daily, monthly and yearly. Some 'gurus' also add weekly lists, but I don't think it's necessary. The daily list helps you see ahead, the monthly list helps you remember the major tasks that you need to accomplish in the mid term, but with an uncertain deadline. The annual list is your vision; what you need to achieve in the long run. Here are some examples:
- Diary – Go to a job interview, call a client, study Spanish, read a book, shave...
- Monthly – Update your app, organize a track day, go on a trip, get your car serviced...
- Yearly – Publish your app in Germany and find 100 customers, get a sponsorship deal with a tire company, hit the gym and lose 10 kilos...
Notice that we have some fairly easy tasks such as shaving, and you need these types of items on your daily list. Remember:
Momentum is everything when it comes to productivity, and these simple actions will give you a quick boost and help you build that momentum.