Summertime is a deliciously different time of year for us. It comes with a more relaxed attitude and openness to adventure and fun! I don’t know about you, but sometimes that fun loving summer vibe can wreak havoc on my goals! Don’t get me wrong! I do love me some free-flowing Summer living! (for a time.) But all that “chillin” is a lot easier to enjoy when I know I have a system in place that can help me get back on track in a flash!
I’d love to offer you a system that does just that! It helps me organize and keep track of the long list of to-dos, dreams, goals and good ideas that constantly fill my head. This system also allows me to “take a vacation” from it and seamlessly hop right back in where I left off when I’m ready!
Let’s explore the 5 Steps!
- Brain Dump
- Choose 5
- First Thing’s First
STEP ONE – BRAIN DUMP
Remember, this is meant to be super simple so don’t overthink it!
The brain dump can be fun and liberating! Choose a” Brain Dump Notebook”. The notebook is where you’ll keep your running list of “To Dos”. Just like your life, the list is ever changing!
Now, with pen and notebook in hand, open your brain and dump the list of “have to do”, “should do”, “want to do”, “someday I will do”, etc…. Notice how good it feels to purge your head of that long list? Committing it to paper, is like putting it in a vault for safe keeping. Now it’s safe and you won’t lose it!
STEP TWO – PRIORITIZE
Now it’s time to prioritize your Brain Dump List (BDL)! We’ll use an A,B,C grading system to prioritize the level of importance for each item on your list. It’s critical that you are honest with yourself! Not everything holds the same weight of importance!
- First, as you consider your BDL, go through and mark an “A” in front of anything that HAS to be done “THIS WEEK”. Be honest! Ask yourself, “Does this HAVE TO be done THIS WEEK?” The “A” items are your “urgent” items.
- Next, go through your BDL and mark a “B” in front of the items that NEED to be done within the next TWO WEEKS. These items are important, but not urgent.
- Finally, go through your list one last time. This time you will mark a “C” in front of those items you’d like to do WITHIN A MONTH.
Don’t worry if you have some items that don’t have a mark in front of them, we have a plan for those! But first, let’s talk about step three.
STEP THREE – CHOOSE 5
This is where the rubber hits the road! You get to decide what will go on today’s “To Do List”! On a separate page in your notebook, write down all the items marked with an “A”. This is the “Urgent – HAS TO BE DONE THIS WEEK” list.
It has been said that “A successful day begins the night before”. With that understanding, I encourage you to consider taking a few minutes before you go to bed for this step and the next.
- Choose and circle 5 items from your “A” list.
- Resist the temptation to choose more than 5 items! Please, take into consideration the reality of your life and the responsibilities and needs of that life! Accomplishing the 5 you do choose can be a stretch!
STEP FOUR – RANK
This step is where you decide how you’ll tackle those 5 items you identified in step three! Once you have identified the 5 “A” items from your BDL you’ll rank them in order of most to least important.
- Rank your 5 “A” items, in order of greatest to least important (or urgent). Use the number “1” for most important and “5” for the least important.
- Write these items, in order of importance, on an index card, a large sticky note, or in your agenda.
- This is your working to-do list for the next day!
STEP FIVE – FIRST THING’S FIRST!
Commit to attacking the first thing on your list first! It’s tempting to approach the list in whatever way feels good in the moment. Remember though, there is a reason you chose a number one item! Honor that decision! Stick to it. You become master of your will by mastering “First Thing’s First”.
- Attack the first thing on your list first! Don’t move on to the next item until you have completed the first!!
- Carry on the same way through the whole list, moving from number one, to number two, three, etc…
- You may not get through the 5 items on your list for today. That’s OK! If you still consider them “A” items, bump them to tomorrow’s to-do list.
What about those things that never become “A, B, or C” items? This method of managing your task list can help discern what is important right now in this season of your life. If an item stays on your list for more than 3 months, it’s time to move it to a “Good Idea” folder. This can be a physical or digital folder, which ever works best for you!
Life happens and sometimes, even with the best laid plans we get knocked off course. The beauty of this method is that even if your day blows up, you can wait for the dust to settle and pick back up where you left off! You just pull out your notebook and work through the “5 Easy Steps” to regain control of your life!
If you have any questions about how to implement this system I’d love to hear from you!