If it stresses you out, modify it!

Posted By on Nov 14, 2013 in Creative Business

There’s a lot of business “systems” out there — you know: every morning, write a list of what you’re going to accomplish that day kind of things. In general, these systems impose some structure to your workday . Structure is good and this works wonderfully for some people, but not so much for others.

modify your To Dos for less stress

Instead of seeing their structures as building blocks, people often take them as ‘the ONLY WAY’ and blame the people it doesn’t work for. I want to suggest an alternative: an alternative that sees these structures as flexible, inter-changeable water noodles that you can adjust as the waves of your life come and go. (Was that metaphor too cheesy? Yes!)

For me, almost all of the business systems focus on daily actions, which doesn’t work for me. Having a daily list just stresses me out. My days are so busy and planned down to the minute so that any unexpected thing — rain, traffic, a sick dog — feels like it throws everything out of whack. Then I feel more stressed and guilty about not doing things.

So I started exploring  and realized that having the list was great and having the list be for a specific, small period of time was great. It was just that DAILY wasn’t great.

So how about weekly?

Now I sit down on Sunday, make a list of things I want to do that week and look at my schedule. I write out my schedule on my to-do list as well as what I think I can accomplish. I schedule in the big things that need chunks of time, but otherwise, I just leave it as a list to grab as I have time.

And I’ve continued to experiment .

Originally, I was planning exactly what I’d work on in that free hour I had on Tuesday. But that wasn’t working; sometimes I needed to step outside and decompress for that hour instead of work. Sometimes something came up that I needed to do then instead. So I switched to just circling the times I could do things and grabbing off the list based on what I felt like doing (answering email instead of blogging) and how much time I had.

Now it’s your turn to explore and experiment: What parts of the those business structures are working for you? What is causing stress and guilt? Is there a common thread between what’s causing stress and guilt? How can you change it to work for you and the rhythm of your life right now?

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