From sorting admin to taking breaks, we all know we can improve our decision making. Here is how one of writers deals with the daily grind.
“Listen to your heart”, “Trust your gut”, “Do what you feel is right.” If only the decision making process was that easy.
In my desire to optimise my work, I have embraced the power of lists and systems for smooth decision making. Here are some of my lists that help me save energy on a daily basis.
When Are Lists Useful?
Lists and step-by-step processes are good for when you have recurring actions. It may be your weekly routine, recurring tasks at work, or situations when emotions take over.
Once I identify things that I do periodically, I only need to make the decision once. The rest is execution.
However, things don’t always run smoothly. Some stressful situations may trigger an emotional response or someone may ask for a favour that is a bit too much.
In these moments, I don’t want to be figuring out how to put out the fire. I want to have a step-by-step plan.
And that’s when lists come into play.
My mentor says, “If it’s a recurring action, make it a ritual.” Every week I have my weekly reset days.
The idea behind weekly reset days or admin days is to create a list of all the recurring actions you do on a weekly/biweekly basis.
Here are my categories to get you started:
- Around the house stuff. Order groceries, do laundry, declutter stuff, clear out the inbox, check the mail, pay the bills.
- Weekly clean-up. Refill the tea station, change the bedsheets, do the laundry, check the fridge for anything spoiled.
- Personal. Check my finances, set new financial goals, schedule appointments, create a to do list for the week and plan downtime for the weekend.
As a freelancer, my day-to-day life varies quite a lot. And although I enjoy the new challenges, I still value the predictability in my schedule. For this reason, I made a decision to stick to a morning routine that helps me start the day on my terms.
Every morning I take a shower, make an English breakfast, and then do some planning for the day.
During these couple of hours I allowed myself not to worry about projects or checking social media and this has had a massive impact on my overall well-being.
I no longer feel like I need to be available 24/7. I feel in control of my decision making again.
Before I adopted this morning routine, I would occasionally wake up feeling anxious about work so I would get down to it first thing in the morning.
Being mindful with my time has led me to paying more attention to little distractions that make me lose focus. And that’s how I identified my biggest time wasters.
As someone who loves productivity hacks, I do quite a bit of self-reflection. And on the days when I feel that I’m being busy but not productive, I notice that these time wasters have played a role in my lack of productivity.
Random calls when I’m working.
I value my relationships with family and friends. So naturally every time they called, I would drop whatever I was doing. And in that act, I thought I was showing my love and care.
After several occasions when these calls were unproductive, I realised that I needed to set boundaries. I let my family know that I don’t pick up the phone when I’m working to maintain the flow. I’m trying to stick to that rule, but it’s still work in progress.
Scrolling social media is a habit that I do on autopilot if I’m bored, stressed, or have a spare minute. It’s easy to go online because most of the time my phone is right next to my laptop while I’m working.
So to change the habit, I need to change the environment, or to simply put my phone away.
Meetings with people I don’t like
I used to be really bad at saying no. I didn’t want to hurt other people’s feelings so I would occasionally say yes to meet-ups that I wasn’t too enthusiastic about.
These days I make up my mind by answering this simple question: When we talk, do I feel drained or energised?
Working when I’m tired
When I’m tired, I become a grumpy six-year-old kid that needs to take a nap. Knowing that I lose all my concentration, I switch tasks and either do something around the house or chill for a bit.
Agreeing to take up more work
I truly believe that my mission in life is to help others. I broadcast it through my projects and client work. However, I can’t help everyone.
To ensure the balance between giving and taking I came up with a checklist:
- Is this a “hell yeah!”?
- Do I need to do it on the weekend?
- Am I getting paid for this?
- How much time will it take?
- Am I the best person for the job?
- Does it lie within my skill-set and interest?
When I Don’t Have A Plan And Emotions Take Over
If something unpredictable throws me off, I may experience a plethora of emotions. Instead of bottling them up, I embrace them.
To regain the clear state of mind, I take note of things that cause them and actions that help me get over them. I call this check-list a self-care emergency toolkit.
What causes anxiety for me:
- Having no savings
- Looking at my phone first thing in the morning
- Underestimating the time it will take me to do something
- Procrastinating on stuff because I don’t want to do it
How I can get over anxiety in the short term:
- Take a nap
- Light a candle
- Make some hot chocolate
- Set a timer for 20 mins to get started on something
- Take care of yourself – reschedule, cancel, say no. Remove the source of anxiety.
These lists are just a small step towards making life more intentional. Although things don’t always go as planned, some recurring actions can be automated.
This leaves room for spontaneity, fun, and new experience while allowing us to better understand what works for us and improves our productivity and decision making.
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