Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A Plan for a Life of Progress

I get depressed and cranky if I'm not productive. If I go through an entire Saturday without getting a single load of laundry done, I snap at my husband and fall into a funk while I chastise myself and swear to be extra productive on Sunday. Then I create a too-ambitious to-do list for Sunday, get overwhelmed and do nothing. Then I'm super duper cranky and depressed because I just wasted my whole weekend not getting things done and since I work full time and have two young kids, it will be five whole days before I get another chance. This is also referred to as perfectionism for those of you who either don't relate or just haven't been officially diagnosed yet.

See, I like the whole idea of PROGRESS. I don't just like it, I love it. And to answer the question that would be posed by my son, Big H, yes, I want to marry it. The thought of staying in one place in terms of job, knowledge, achievement, relationship quality, etc. my whole life is so disturbing to me that if I think about it too much, I fall into another mini-funk. No good.

I'm embarking (god how I love the idea of embarking) on a better path. I'm going to make progress toward the things that truly matter to me. I've gotten some great ideas from various places that I'm going to mesh together in a fancy as-yet-undetermined way to make consistent progress. I must credit David Allen who wrote Getting Things Done. His system has helped me tremendously. If you haven't read his book, you should. Best takeaway: to-do lists organized by context, or location. That way, when you're running errands, you only look at your errands list. When you're at home, you don't need to worry about your "work" list. Good stuff.

Also, The Now Habit, by Neil Fiore. I like him because he's so kind to procrastinators. I think he might be the only person on the planet who is nice to them. Not even procrastinators are nice to procrastinators. I am, of course. Best takeaway: Work on a high-priority project the first 30 minutes of the day. You accomplish something early to keep you out of the funk and dodge distractions that can take you down a different path.

I recently went through a great Franklin Covey training session on execution. Best takeaways: Pick no more than three "wildly important goals" to really focus on at one time and create a scoreboard to track and share your progress.

Finally, I discovered a blog today, that makes the whole idea of progress really balanced and fun. The blogger, Jessi Pervola, is delightful, but a bit too hard on herself for not posting as much as she thinks she should.

Here are the categories in which I want to make progress all the time. By all the time, I don't mean every second of every day. Slow and steady, people. Just wanted to be clear so no one tries to give me the guilties down the road when I'm not appearing productive enough. I may have time limits on some, but not all. The 1-3 most important in each category will be at the top of each list.

Me. By that I mean all the things I do just for me and me alone. It can include my knitting projects, increasing my knowledge, new skills, etc.

Family. This includes my husband and two kids, Big H and Little H, as well as my extended family. It might include family trips, regular dates with my husband, regular dates with my kids, classes for my kids, family parties, etc.

Health & Wellness. This is separate from "Me" because quite frankly, the stuff in this category won't be quite as fun. I want to keep the "Me" category fun. This will include diet, exercise, relaxation, etc.

Work. Jeez, doesn't this one get enough of my attention already? It's just so invasive. But it pays for everything else, so I want to get as much done in as little time as possible while I'm there.

Friends. No clue what I'll put in here. I don't need to be reminded to check Facebook. I need to be reminded to stop checking Facebook.

Finances. This is so very important to me. I'm basically following Dave Ramsay's advice from The Total Money Makeover. Create emergency savings, eliminate debt, save for retirement, and so on.

Home. This is the area where I'm the, well, how do I say it? The World's Biggest Slacker. I've never done ANY decorating in the home in which we've lived for five years, my laundry pile is enormous and probably housing unique species of spiders, I vacuum twice a year tops, clutter is reproducing while I sleep, we haven't parked in the garage for three years and I just can't take it anymore. I want a clean, decluttered, lovely, peaceful home!

Future. I get lots of great ideas for goals all the time. At least in my opinion they're great; however, my husband often tells me that perhaps some of them are a little crazy. I say his aren't crazy enough.

Tune in for my progress! (I realize I have no readers; however, someday I might and I want them to feel like I was thinking about them all along before I even met them.)

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