A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that I was trying a little experiment. The idea was to try to live my life without any goals or any tasks preplanned in advance. Each day I would wake up and just follow my instincts about what needed to be done that day. I got the idea from Leo over at Zen Habits.So today, two weeks on, I thought I would give you a little update on how that experiment is going. Overall, in my opinion, I’m finding the approach works well. However, I did have to adjust my mind set.
I’ve used an electronic calendar for many years to keep track of appointments. At this point I use Google Calendar. Over time, I have moved away from using any desk top applications to working in the cloud environment. Google’s products are excellent. They are simple to use with just the right number of features. Using the electronic calendar means I can access it via my iPhone at any time. It is up to date and I can add appointments as needed. As a bonus, my husband can also see what I have booked.
Without a task list or set of goals, I found I was tempted to add tasks to my calendar. In other words, to circumvent the task list, I just created another type of list in my calendar. Within a few days, I realized that I was “cheating” so I stopped doing it. It was hard because I was afraid of forgetting something important.
So I took some time to figure out why I had this fear. After some consideration, I thought perhaps I have too many projects on the go so I’m having to juggle several tasks at once. Perhaps I’m not focusing on the right priorities. With projects, I do have lists of tasks and sub-tasks with large projects. However, I’m starting to realize that I can actually stop creating complicated plans by asking two simple questions.
The two questions I need to ask myself each morning:
- Question 1: What is my top priority today?
- Question 2: What is the next thing I need to do for my top priority?
If I can answer these two questions, then I know what I need to accomplish that day. Of course, once I have finished what needs to be done, I just ask these two questions again to determine what to do next.
I do find that I need to carefully refine “the next thing I need to do” into an actionable item. It really is the key to success. For example, if my priority for the day is to find a locksmith, then I need to determine the next task in finding a locksmith. So if I’m just starting, I might do an internet search for local locksmiths to find two or three that I will call for a quote.
Using this approach, my day feels full and productive. I’m doing instead of planning to do. So far using this approach, I have not forgot to do something important.
I still schedule appointments in my calendar. I have, however; taken to minimizing appointments and meetings where possible. I’ve tried hard to take out any “recurring” appointments or meetings. Meeting for the sake of meeting is not a productive use of my time so I am slowly extracting myself from meetings of this type. I now do more hallway conversations and lunch time chats. I reserve meetings for action planning, but only if two or more people need to be involved.
Making this approach a habit may still take some time, but that’s okay. It is a work in progress. I love that I don’t have a list of things hanging over my head each day. I wake up ready to tackle what is important.
Thanks for reading! If you found this information useful, informative or even entertaining, pass it along. I really appreciate it!