So what is a thing, exactly?
I have found that planning my day by doing *only* 6 things a day has helped me be so much more focused and productive. That being said, it took me a bit of trial and error to figure out what makes up a thing to put on the 6 things list.
What it really comes down to is an estimated amount of time. So think of things on your list as things you can do in a time block of roughly 1-2 hours. You get 6 time blocks each day. Use them wisely. Each block is one thing.
Most appointments use up 1 block – if they are like the average visit to a doctor, hair stylist, chiropractor, and the like. When planning out craft projects or exercise regimens or whatever, think of them as blocks of approximately 1-2 hours each. For instance, when I exercise I have to factor in time to change in to work out clothes, gather up my headphones and listening gear, do the actual exercise, cool down, and then shower. This takes up a time block.
If I have several little things I need to do that take only minutes per item, I try to lump them together into one single thing for the list. An example of this would be making phone calls. I could put “call Mary” and “call CVS to order RX refill” on my list as single items but the reality is they won’t take up a whole time block. So instead I write “make phone calls” and make several to fill up a time block. If I’m painting my master bedroom and redoing the throw pillows I would add to the list “work on master bedroom redecorating” and then work on it for about 2 hours that day to use up that particular block. If finishing the master bedroom is top priority, then it might make up more than one thing on my list, and hence allow me more hours that day to work on it.
The image below shows two of my actual lists.
You’ll notice that on Thursday’s list it shows “office” as taking up 3 time blocks (3 things). That’s because I am usually at my office from about 8:30-2ish on a normal work day. That uses up roughly 3 time blocks of my day. There are 3 blocks left to fill with other items, which I don’t particularly want to be work-related when I’ve used half my day for work already. I do this in a concerted effort to bring more balance to my days and eliminate some stress. I’m purposefully and methodically creating time for work and time for other non-work items.
Notice the yellow sticky note next to the 3-block “office” item. That is my breakdown of the 3 general things I will work on at the office during those time blocks. So my list to start my day is very general and then, when at the office, I break it down further to help me stay focused on the job while still maintaining my 6 things day. This helps me greatly in my endeavor to keep work at work and not bring it all home with me. For anyone with a functioning business, this can be a real struggle. I have multiple businesses. It gets out of hand quickly with my health and well-being taking the toll when there’s mostly work and none of the other stuff. My lists help me see the balance or imbalance and work to maintain it. Prior to using the 6 things lists, my days would come to an end and I’d find I had crammed as much as I could possibly fit and most of it was work related or household chore related. Imbalance of this kind creates stress.
Things that don’t count as things are normal, everyday chores or routines that we do as part of daily life. Things like brushing the teeth, throwing a load of clothes in the washer, or taking out the trash do not constitute things for the list (unless, of course, you’d like to make them part of your 6 things list). Go ahead and think of those types of responsibilities as standard chores that are done regardless of a planned 6 things list. The blocks of time are reserved for tactics to make your goals a reality, major responsibilities, and rejuvenation time to keep you balanced and healthy.
It is very satisfying to get to the end of a day and realize I have crossed off 6 items, all completed, and one of them was actually something I really enjoyed or needed to do just for me 🙂
I hope this has been helpful to you. I’m happy to answer any questions you have and would love to read any comments.