Three lists that will save you time and keep you sane

Posted Tuesday, March 18, 2008

In today’s online culture of GTD, productivity, time management, and so on, we are focused on getting more done in less time. We are told that quantity is generally preferable to quality. What this mindset doesn’t take into account is another important aspect of life - happiness. Too often, I find myself thinking that line from Jurassic Park, “[they] were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.”

Time is valuable, yes. The most valuable currency in the world. Now think to yourself - do you spend all your money? Do you have a plan for every dime you will ever earn?

When you get right down to it, you have a finite amount of time available to you during your lifetime. There is no chance you will receive more, but frequent opportunities to get your supply shortened or even cut off permanently. So, you must spend your time wisely…and that includes leaving some flexible time so you can catch a breather and just relax!

To that end, here’s a few lists of things to think about when you plan for the future.

Wants

One day every week (Sunday works for me), write down a list of three goals you want to accomplish over the next week. These goals don’t have to be work-related; rather, they should be things that you really want to do. For example, my weekly list might read:

  • Ride 5 miles on my bike (Biking)
  • Draw 5 new illustrations for my game (Art)
  • Complete a perfect back-spin kick (Taekwon-do)

Needs

Your second priority (never, ever your first) should be to make a list of three goals you need to accomplish over the next week. This list is of things that need to get done, but that you don’t necessarily enjoy. For example:

  • Pay gas bill (Bills)
  • Shovel sidewalk (Chores)
  • Turn in P3 report (Work)

Shoulds

Finally, make a list of three goals to meet for the next week that you should accomplish. These can be just about anything. For me, the list might look like this:

  • Find a good local dietician (Health)
  • Finish my current novel (Reading)
  • Spend half an hour learning about leadership (Education)

Keep in mind that all of these things should only make up a PART of your time. The rest can and should be fluid, allowing for sudden shifts in schedule and just plain old relaxation. Personally, I try and incorporate some daily rituals into my life, but that’s just what works for me. Experiment to see the best solution for you.

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