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Pulled Down by My Daily Checklist

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  • Pulled Down by My Daily Checklist

    For work I generated a daily checklist of tasks that I need (or should) do every workday. They include tasks such as tickler, email to zero, process inbox, review NAs etc. These are vital and taking care of them make an enormous difference. My problem, however, doesn't come from that. My problem stems from the fact starting out the day going through this checklist can sometimes seem so boring and tedious. It will often take the energy out of the start of the day.

    I will tell myself that this is an important part of my day, since it frees me and my mind. That works sometimes, but obviously too often not. I also tried to simplify my checklist, but it is still the same list just a bit reworked.

    How do others handle this? Do you split your activities throughout the day? Is it easier to take care of everything, except the calendar and NA review part, at the end of the day?

  • #2
    Originally posted by sdann View Post
    For work I generated a daily checklist of tasks that I need (or should) do every workday. They include tasks such as tickler, email to zero, process inbox, review NAs etc. These are vital and taking care of them make an enormous difference. My problem, however, doesn't come from that. My problem stems from the fact starting out the day going through this checklist can sometimes seem so boring and tedious. It will often take the energy out of the start of the day.

    I will tell myself that this is an important part of my day, since it frees me and my mind. That works sometimes, but obviously too often not. I also tried to simplify my checklist, but it is still the same list just a bit reworked.

    How do others handle this? Do you split your activities throughout the day? Is it easier to take care of everything, except the calendar and NA review part, at the end of the day?
    I split my daily checklist 3 ways: Morning, anytime, and evening (I'm self employed). I did have to make sure, ultimately, that things I MUST do were in the morning. Sometimes I never make it past those tasks and sometimes I do. I just finally gave myself permission not to worry about it.

    Comment


    • #3
      It sounds like you're not trusting your system. It also sounds like you're doing a weekly review every day. Why do you need such a long morning checklist? Here's what I'd suggest:
      • Check your tickler in the morning and look at your calendar for the day, maybe print out your calendar if it's digital.
      • Save getting everything to zero for your weekly review and spend more time working on the ACTIONS that you have generated in the weekly review.
      • Sounds like you feel like you need to process and capture everything ever day. Save it for the weekly review
      • Do a weekly review. The daily stuff should be habitual and quick.
      • Check your context list when you are in the context where you can perform the action. Trust that you have put the appropriate and relevant actions onto the correct context list and then do them.

      The thing I like about GTD is that I see the actions I can perform when I am in the appropriate context. In the weekly review, I'll list the things that need to get done that week and trust that. If something has to get done by or on a certain day, it goes on the calendar.

      Of course you'll want to scan your email for emergencies or things that have to get done right away, but you could spend all day getting it to zero and that sounds unproductive to me. Maybe you're different though and all your actions come out of your email and need to get processed as they come in?
      Last edited by darlakbrown; 01-17-2009, 01:36 PM.

      Comment


      • #4
        I also have a daily checklist, divided into different areas so it all doesn't have to be done at once. I have an "AM Section" (take vitamins) and a "PM Section" (scoop litter box, check cleaning list, choose next day's Most Important Tasks).

        I caution against dividing things into different periods of the day just for the sake of spreading them out, however, as what tasks fit best where varies by day. For example, I might go for a run in the morning, or I might go at night ... but I *never* went when I told myself "Run at 8pm" -- maybe I was busy, or not in the mood, etc.

        Something like "clear inbox to zero" seems like a better task for the end of the day than the beginning, though.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by MarinaMartin View Post
          I also have a daily checklist, divided into different areas so it all doesn't have to be done at once. I have an "AM Section" (take vitamins) and a "PM Section" (scoop litter box, check cleaning list, choose next day's Most Important Tasks).

          I caution against dividing things into different periods of the day just for the sake of spreading them out, however, as what tasks fit best where varies by day. For example, I might go for a run in the morning, or I might go at night ... but I *never* went when I told myself "Run at 8pm" -- maybe I was busy, or not in the mood, etc.

          Something like "clear inbox to zero" seems like a better task for the end of the day than the beginning, though.
          Yes, I agree. But processing (including getting "in" to zero) is such a habit for me it is not on a checklist anywhere. In fact, I'm thinking of pairing down my checklist some. For instance, I have some medication I have to take every morning. I don't need that on the list anymore. But I have some I have to take at night too--that needs to be on the list because I need the prompt. My checklist really is ever changing. If there is a particular habit that I want to focus on building, sometimes I'll put THAT on the checklist too...just as a reminder each day.

          My point really is: All this "maintenance" stuff that we all have in our lives shouldn't be cluttering up either our Contexts lists OR our calendar. But we still may need a prompt. I'd love to hear how other people deal with this kind of stuff.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by darlakbrown View Post
            [*]Save getting everything to zero for your weekly review and spend more time working on the ACTIONS that you have generated in the weekly review.[*]Sounds like you feel like you need to process and capture everything ever day. Save it for the weekly review
            I cannot wait until the weekly review, which I do diligently, to process everything in my inbox. I have a lot coming at me. Anytime I have waited for the weekly review to process, it takes forever to even get to my weekly review. I also have many items in my inbox that really cannot wait a whole week to be processed. Perhaps if I give myself a bit of leeway and allow myself 2 days to process the inbox.

            The items on this checklist are maintenance tasks. I list some items on there, such as tickler, since I always seem to forget if I don't have to check it off.

            I do get to my actions. I always wish I had more time, but I do get to them. That is not the problem really. The actual problem is that it is energy-draining to come in all fresh in the morning only to be confronted by the same "drudgery", so to speak. I think I just need to switch it around a bit.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by sdann View Post
              My problem stems from the fact starting out the day going through this checklist can sometimes seem so boring and tedious. It will often take the energy out of the start of the day.
              My solution is to try to do those low energy or energy sapping items in the afternoon. I try to save the mornings for those big items that are better done with high energy.

              Of course this means that you've cleared the decks from the day before and can deal with the stress of not checking email all morning

              - Don

              Comment


              • #8
                For me it's important to form daily recurring actions into habits. So I constantly have some habit changing projects going on, be it to get into the habit of processing the inbox at the end of the day automatically or taking my sports schedule seriously, whatever. Automatically is the key word here.

                The other part of the story is a checklist I check as part of my weekly review. It consists of questions you can only answer with 'yes or 'no to. For example: "Do I process my in-box each and every day? (y/n)". The goal is, obviously, getting to a score of 100% yes.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Checklists: The Path To Blackbelt

                  I'm a strong believer in checklists. I think checklists can be used for two purposes.

                  1. To get the everything else out of your head, and
                  2. To become more efficient.

                  Having a checklist means that you've given some thought to what you have to get accomplished each time you set out to do a certain task or in the best case scenario, what you have to complete in any given day. By prethinking out all of your activities ahead of time, you reduce the overhead required to remember all the things we have to do each day and therefore reduce the times you have to ask yourself if you've done everything or ask yourself what's the next thing you want to accomplish.

                  While repetition decreases the need for a trigger to remember everything because it's a habit, I say leave it on the checklist anyway and use it as a second brain. After that, you'll want to make sure your checklist is complete and that it does represent in totality all that you need to complete in addition to things you WANT to do.

                  After that, the next phase of a checklist is using it as a tool to become more efficient by becoming faster at your checklist. If you are using a daily checklist, note the time you start your checklist and when you finish it. Then try and complete it faster.

                  A couple of other thoughts about a checklist. While it is true that a checklist can be routine and eventually you'll feel like you know it like the back of your hand, it's still good to have it at hand so you still have no need to remember it. By breaking your work down into a checklist, you can also begin to see which tasks you can delegate and remove from your day and will have a map of exactly what you want that person to do. In addition, having something on your checklist doesn't mean you have to do it. You can always agree with yourself to skip over it.

                  If your checklist is creating drag on your system, break it down into a more managable size. Get proficient at the smaller checklist and expand it like you would working with weightlifting.

                  Also, include things you like to do as a reward on the checklist. For example, at the end you could put "surf the web" or "do crossword" or "take nap". If you only put the work on the checklist and not the fun, you'll either forget to have the fun or resent the work. Include all you want to do, not just what you have to do.

                  I was reminded just how valuable checklists were when I read about the airplane that crashed in the Hudson. Here is an excerpt of what I read in USA Today.

                  According to Higgins, the pilots never activated it. Instructions to do so are at the end of a three-page check list for a twin-engine failure. Skiles did not have time to finish the check list in the roughly three minutes from impact to water touchdown, she said.
                  I think the checklist is a key tool to becoming black belt at GTD.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Good thoughts

                    Originally posted by BlackBeltProject View Post
                    I'm a strong believer in checklists. I think checklists can be used for two purposes.

                    1. To get the everything else out of your head, and
                    2. To become more efficient.

                    Having a checklist means that you've given some thought to what you have to get accomplished each time you set out to do a certain task or in the best case scenario, what you have to complete in any given day. By prethinking out all of your activities ahead of time, you reduce the overhead required to remember all the things we have to do each day and therefore reduce the times you have to ask yourself if you've done everything or ask yourself what's the next thing you want to accomplish.

                    While repetition decreases the need for a trigger to remember everything because it's a habit, I say leave it on the checklist anyway and use it as a second brain. After that, you'll want to make sure your checklist is complete and that it does represent in totality all that you need to complete in addition to things you WANT to do.

                    After that, the next phase of a checklist is using it as a tool to become more efficient by becoming faster at your checklist. If you are using a daily checklist, note the time you start your checklist and when you finish it. Then try and complete it faster.

                    A couple of other thoughts about a checklist. While it is true that a checklist can be routine and eventually you'll feel like you know it like the back of your hand, it's still good to have it at hand so you still have no need to remember it. By breaking your work down into a checklist, you can also begin to see which tasks you can delegate and remove from your day and will have a map of exactly what you want that person to do. In addition, having something on your checklist doesn't mean you have to do it. You can always agree with yourself to skip over it.

                    If your checklist is creating drag on your system, break it down into a more managable size. Get proficient at the smaller checklist and expand it like you would working with weightlifting.

                    Also, include things you like to do as a reward on the checklist. For example, at the end you could put "surf the web" or "do crossword" or "take nap". If you only put the work on the checklist and not the fun, you'll either forget to have the fun or resent the work. Include all you want to do, not just what you have to do.

                    I was reminded just how valuable checklists were when I read about the airplane that crashed in the Hudson. Here is an excerpt of what I read in USA Today.



                    I think the checklist is a key tool to becoming black belt at GTD.
                    Great thoughts and well said! The last thing any of us probably need is "stuff" crawling back into our heads.

                    I'm leaving my Daily Checklist as is. But I'm still not going to worry about if I don't get through everything.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by sdann View Post
                      For work I generated a daily checklist of tasks that I need (or should) do every workday. They include tasks such as tickler, email to zero, process inbox, review NAs etc. These are vital and taking care of them make an enormous difference. My problem, however, doesn't come from that. My problem stems from the fact starting out the day going through this checklist can sometimes seem so boring and tedious. It will often take the energy out of the start of the day.

                      I will tell myself that this is an important part of my day, since it frees me and my mind. That works sometimes, but obviously too often not. I also tried to simplify my checklist, but it is still the same list just a bit reworked.

                      How do others handle this? Do you split your activities throughout the day? Is it easier to take care of everything, except the calendar and NA review part, at the end of the day?
                      So you have already tried trimming them down, and made sure whatever remains there is absolutely important. The solution to tediousness and boredum is to focus your mind on the result, not the tediousness of the drill. You said you feel better after completing it. Same here, with me. So visualize your lift in energy after completion while completing the checklist. This has worked for me. Another thing to watch is how much work actually gets done during this. It's not just maintenance work! Just watch how many two-minute actions get completed, and how many projects move forward. Also watch the increase in clarity when you decide next actions and make projects out of your incoming stuff. Be conscious of the results. Same activity, when you change from 'Oh no, it's boring' vs when you focus on the outcome, can transform from being repulsive to being attractive. It might sound hollow words, but it works for me. If you have not tried it already, try the gtdconnect free membership and listen to the audio 'Making Change Stick' in particular. It was a life-changer for me!

                      Regards,
                      Abhay

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        If your checklist is tedious and boring, maybe you have the wrong checklist?

                        This is a common principle among some fitness trainers. If your workout is so dull that you have to drag yourself to the gym, maybe the solution is to change your workout.

                        It's a little harder to apply the same idea to routine office tasks, but still worth thinking about. For example, if handling your email is boring because you have to deal with similar requests over and over, maybe you can think of a way to automate those requests. Maybe you can develop a template so that a lower level person can do them. If you can't be bothered to check your tickler, have you tried randomly tossing cash and/or premium chocolate into some of the folders? Do you put fun things on your list/in your tickler as well as work things?

                        Hope this helps,

                        Katherine

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I really appreciate the posts here. I'm going to try a number of things:

                          1. split them up throughout the day. I will try to see which works best for me, depending on energy etc.
                          2. try some of the "clear-up" checklist tasks in the evening, so that I can come in to a "clearer" office in mornings.
                          3. time how long the checklist tasks take and come to a realization that that's just the way it is
                          4. think of the outcome and of how many things get accomplished in that time.
                          5. rewards. That may work well - I love treats. Maybe I should add something good to my tickler as well.

                          I have been trying to create habits out of some items in my daily checklist. So far, it's taken well longer than the suggested 21 days. At the same time though I'm wary of moving anything off this checklist, since they are really vital to what I do and what I plan on doing. As a side note, I have been a GTD Connect member for 1 year now (this month.)

                          Thanks!
                          Silke
                          Last edited by sdann; 01-21-2009, 07:32 AM. Reason: I added the word Thanks.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by abhay View Post
                            So you have already tried trimming them down, and made sure whatever remains there is absolutely important. The solution to tediousness and boredum is to focus your mind on the result, not the tediousness of the drill. You said you feel better after completing it. Same here, with me. So visualize your lift in energy after completion while completing the checklist. This has worked for me. Another thing to watch is how much work actually gets done during this. It's not just maintenance work! Just watch how many two-minute actions get completed, and how many projects move forward. Also watch the increase in clarity when you decide next actions and make projects out of your incoming stuff. Be conscious of the results. Same activity, when you change from 'Oh no, it's boring' vs when you focus on the outcome, can transform from being repulsive to being attractive. It might sound hollow words, but it works for me. If you have not tried it already, try the gtdconnect free membership and listen to the audio 'Making Change Stick' in particular. It was a life-changer for me!

                            Regards,
                            Abhay
                            Abhay,

                            I want to thank you for suggesting the 'Making Change Stick' audio, which I listened to today. It made some points that I believe will have life-changing effects for me as well.

                            Silke

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Happy to advertise it! Please keep sharing your experiences with such experiments!

                              Regards,
                              Abhay

                              Comment

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