A Bearable Being of Lightness

Balloon with basket filled with flowers

I should be slightly cuckoo by now, according to the psychological scales which tally up change-induced stress points. Thus far, however, I have nary a feather to show. Nor have I chirped.

I blame it all on Margie Lawson and the course I took from her in January on defeating self-defeating behaviors. I didn’t precisely finish the course, and I didn’t exactly excel in her classroom, but I obviously learned something applicable. How else do you explain that I’m more organized and productive than I have been in years, even when life-cycle issues should be shredding my composure?

The single most helpful tool? A List with a Twist.* In case there are one or two of you who might benefit, I’ll share the steps:

1. Compose a master list of what you want to accomplish over the next year. As you do step #2, keep this list at hand, being mindful of the next baby step you can take toward your larger goals. (Don’t forget to include goals in the broad categoreis of physical, emotional, social, and financial health!)

2. You will write a daily to-do list, comprised of two tiers:

  • Winner goals – top priority items, which may all be essential.
  • Superstar goals – second-tier goals. You must not tackle this list until your winner goals have been accomplished.

3. Beside each goal, write the estimated time it will take to accomplish the task.

4. As you accomplish each goal, cross it off. Then, and this is critical, write down how long it actually took you to accomplish the task.

5. Each evening, do a quick post-mortem. How did you do today? Did you head to the sexy Superstar tasks before you finished your Winner list? How accurate were you on the time requirements for your list?

Margie Lawson says the average North American underestimates the time it takes to accomplish a task by 42%. Forty-two percent, guys. Before I began the post-mortems, that was me all the way. I’d ask more of myself than was possible for anyone to accomplish, fail to meet my goals, feel discouraged, and react by failing to set future targets altogether.

But once this downward spiral is reversed and you taste accomplishment… Oh, guys, it is teh awesome. Before you know it, you’re sending in blog posts ten days in advance, have your hard drive backed up, met with financial advisors and made scary decisions…

Let’s just say if the right-brained Tart can improve like this, with imperfect application and Life interfering, you peeps can dazzle!

How about you? Is this obvious stuff to you? Are you already list-makers? If so, do you follow through? If you could name only one thing which helps you move forward in proactivity and productivity, what would that be?

*My name for it.

8 thoughts on “A Bearable Being of Lightness

  1. I have tried the “list-making” many times, but then I start getting coo-coo with the list until the only thing I can check off of my list is “write list.” I’m willing to try again, though. I’m also definitely an underestimater — especially now with blogging; “I’ll whip out this post in thirty minutes…” Two hours later, I’ve still got an unfinished post, and have added four kids in various stages of attention-deprived angst. Happy for YOU, though.

  2. Amanda, I’m shocked by how much time blogging can take. Even just finding the right image can sink five minutes or more. And four kids??? If you do a list, make sure you put down a goal of some personal time. Go you!

  3. For my freelance business, I track time in quarter-hour increments. I’ve been doing this for 10+ years. And I STILL overestimate my capacity. It’s part optimism, part desire to please, part head-in-clouds (or elsewhere, depending on who you ask).

    Even so, I’m better than I used to be, especially on things that affect DH. But I have much room for improvement. Maybe I’ll twist this list.

    Meanwhile, hurray, Jan. You’re radiating peace of mind.

  4. Funny, I just made a list today (love lists, I do), though not one broken into winner and superstar goals. It was more like “want to” and “must.” I have learned, more recently, that I typically accomplish one writing goal a day.

    But, when you’re stealing moments here and there to write, completing one goal is still an accomplishment.

    I may have to try your technique in full, though. I’d love to think I’m ahead on blog posts and not finishing them in the final hour!

  5. Christi, don’t be fooled. I’m still last-minuting many of Tartitude’s posts. It’s the WU ones I like to have a few days’ of lead on, in case they need to be changed — especially important with holidays coming up.

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