Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Tuesday Tipday: Taming Your To-Dos


Yesterday I told you about a book I read last week that offers tips for getting things done. The book was 18 Minutes, by Peter Bregman.

It's a quick, insightful read that I finished in just two days. I think the most important thing about this book isn't even the time management system he came up with, but the little nuggets of knowledge sprinkled throughout. Witness...

1) Pausing can help you make a smarter next move.

2) If your whole identity is wrapped up in one thing (your job, your status as a parent, the amount of money you have in the bank...) then the loss of that one identity will cripple you.

3) If you don't know what your life is about, you'll waste all your time even if you work your ass off.

4) Understand your obsessions and you'll be clued in to your natural motivators.

5) Passions are things you enjoy working at even if you feel like you're failing at them.

See? His book is filled with tidbits like this that make total sense as soon as you come across them.

What I love about his to-do system is that it's based not just on all the things you need to do on a daily basis (I've put "DISHES" and "LAUNDRY" on many a to-do list), but on your overall goals for the year. So, if you've decided you need to make new friends and dress better in 2012, each day should be spent focusing on activities that help you achieve those goals.

Bregman's idea is that only around five percent of your day should be spent on the laundry-dishes-buy-another-20-rolls-of-TP to-dos of life. Because, if that's all your days are made up of you won't get where you want to be and will end up feeling you've wasted your limited, precious time.

After plotting my goals for the year and making a rather extensive to-do list last week, I found it completely overwhelming to complete in one day. So, I did what I do best and put the whole thing off. Yesterday I woke up with a renewed interest in giving it a go. I didn't come anywhere near getting my 10 item list done, but as of right now I've only got four things left.

A couple of hours ago it occurred to me that no one is forcing me to make a daily to-do. For the foreseeable future I'll be making weekly ones. I don't think this would have seemed like an option before reading this book, and I don't know why. Bregman talks a lot about knowing your strengths, weaknesses and what makes you different and then tailoring your life so that everything is optimized for the way you work and get things done.

I love crossing off my to-dos, but if my day is too structured (even while working from home) I feel trapped...So, weekly to-do lists! I feel so much lighter now!

18 Minutes is a great book to pick up if you want some insight into how to make your productive days really matter. Give it a try.

What does your ideal getting-things-done day look like?


roxy1364 said...

I like the concept of setting goals for the entire year then crafting daily to-do lists around those goals. I admit, too many entries on my to do list are laundry and grocery store related! I figured out the downside of vesting your identity in one part of who you are after divorce, but I appreciate the reminder. After reading your post, I think I'll check out this book. Thanks for the recommendation!

Citygirl said...

I think you'll enjoy the book, Roxy. The idea of planning your day around your yearly goals is so simple, and yet I'm sure it's never occurred to many of us!

Thanks for visiting!

Bindu said...

Tweeted your post.

Citygirl said...

Thanks Bindu! Glad you liked it.

JeriWB said...

Sounds like a good and useful read. I'll have to add it to my Amazon wishlist.


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