being-productiveLast week I talked about the need to simplify our lives. We all know it is easier said than done. Here is the process that I go through, and one that might be helpful to you (If you are married, try to work through it together):

  1. Take some time to write down your current activities—everything you are presently doing. Everything. I usually just do this with a pen and yellow pad. I will fill several pages. It will take awhile but it is a  necessary process. You need to face what is going on with your life.
  2. Go through each item on the list and ask yourself, “why am I doing this?” or “what is my motive?” While this may be painful, it will help you to get to the heart of things.
  3. Prioritize your list of activities in order of importance and mark each one:
    • Those things that are indispensable to your life.
    • Those things that are important to you.
    • Those things that someone else could probably be doing.
    • Those things that are a just a waste of time.
  4. Drop the things that are a waste of time, delegate the things that others could be doing, and postpone some of the ones that are important.
  5. Rework your schedule and activities and calendarize them. Start with the indispensable, then schedule in margin. After you have done this you can put in a few other things. Remember, margin is what you didn’t have and the indispensable was getting crowded out.
  6. Plan your transition to the “new normal” and give yourself deadlines.
  7. Put it all in writing.
  8. Make yourself accountable to a trusted friend who will follow up with you.

These are tools I use. I am sure you can find many others. I wish I could say that I did this once and have been cruising along ever since. The truth is I already have my yellow pad out for 2014 and am ready to go back to work.