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GTD, to do lists, productivityThis is Week 45 of a Year of Living Productively

This week I tested whether going without a list for all but the tasks that I would otherwise forget, which were added to Google Calendar, could help me get more done. Scroll to the bottom of last week’s post for more on the concept.

How Working Without a To-Do List Saved My Sanity This Week

  • Gave me true free time. Because I didn’t even really know what I was supposed to be doing (besides the obvious), I felt free to play games with my kids. Even my oldest asked me to play video games with him and shockingly enough, I said yes. I think they saw me wandering aimlessly and didn’t want to miss an opportunity.
  • Helped me realize how few things are crucial. I didn’t do many of the things I fully intended to do (make homemade gifts and goodies, for example). I’m astonished to report that the world didn’t come to an end.
  • I took care of more things in the moment. There was no option to “do it later,” so much of the time if I thought about doing something, I just did it.

How Working Without a To-Do List Made Me Crazy This Week

  • I felt depressed. I was suffering from burnout last week, but having a discreet list of things to do was helpful in that regard. This week, I noticed I had no interest in recreational activities. Perhaps the feeling was coincidental with the weather, my health, and other circumstances, however.
  • I felt lost. I wasn’t interested in processing my email because I knew I couldn’t add any of them to a task list. When I thought of something I wanted or needed to do, it drove me nuts not to add it to my ToDoist list.
  • I didn’t get much done. Because I wasn’t working from a to-do list, I seemed to shift into vacation mode. I thought it was funny when I caught myself thinking, “I’ll do this next week when I can be done with this silly no-list experiment.” I got the critical things done and spent some enjoyable down time with my kids, but that was really about it.

Did Working Without a To-Do List Help Me Get More Done?

No.  And I’m really surprised. Years ago when I did this, my conclusion was just the opposite. Breaking free of a traditional to-do list then helped me find the want-to in my work.

One of the things that is different this time is I already have the want-to. I can’t wait to get back to my To-Doist Little and Often approach. I really prefer putting most tasks off until tomorrow so I can work them efficiently (similar tasks together). I love having a true deadline of 3 days past due to motivate me to take some action. The problem that I ran into is the approach works TOO WELL at motivating me. I found myself working longer and longer hours to move tasks along so they wouldn’t get deleted. The point of the impending deletion of tasks isn’t to expand work hours, but to eliminate tasks from your list that you either don’t have time for or are putting off. My solution from here on out will be to stop working at 9 p.m. Anything not done by then that is 3 days past due is gone. I’ll regain my evening free time and have a more realistic to-do list.

**UPDATE**

Although there was a time in my life when working without a to-do list worked beautifully for me, it no longer does. I suspect that is because so many of my to-do’s are related to email now. I could just leave them in my inbox and work with them by memory, but I have more peace of mind when I process my emails using ToDoist for Gmail.

delegating, productivity, GTD, organized

The Productivity Approach I’ll Be Using for Week 46 & What to Expect

This week I’ll be testing delegating. I will finish a month-long test of delegating work by training my children to do more and asking my husband to share some of the responsibilities he is open to sharing.

The concept. You don’t have to be into traditional productivity stuff to understand the need to delegate. The importance of delegating is preached to the office worker and homeschool mom alike. I read Tim Ferriss’s The 4-Hour Work Week years ago. Moms NEVER work 4-hour weeks. Sorry, Tim. I will admit to fantasizing about having a virtual assistant though. Having someone order my groceries that would be delivered to my door? Divine. Someone to research material for my latest book project? Fab. More recently, the idea of having a social media person is even more appealing!

But I have  never breathed a word of my fantasy to my practical husband who would have a very good laugh over it. Considering how much money I do NOT make from my extra-familial pursuits, I couldn’t justify hiring anyone. But the older my children have gotten, the more I’ve come to understand that I have a whole staff of people I can “hire” to help me. Don’t get me wrong. My children already do chores. It’s just that I don’t often think of them as an extra resource for getting things done. Why? It’s time-consuming. And that’s what makes training kids very similar to delegating work in a traditional work environment. All delegating takes time and when you’re already in a rush, it’s easy to procrastinate on delegating.

If you’d like to join me this week, here’s what you do. Decide who you could delegate to. It could be a paid helper, family member, or colleague. Get your helper to buy in. What advantages are there to your family for pitching in? Discuss those. Could you trade jobs with someone? Then every time you start doing something that you know you should delegate, either start training them or plan to train them as soon as possible. You’re unlikely to have results after just a week, so this may be a longer term proposition.

To find out how delegating worked for me, click here.

What can you expect from Psychowith6 in the coming weeks?

I will report on my results with delegating next week. I will also announce a multi-week test of something I’m very excited about. In the Christmas spirit, I won’t tell you what it is until then. 🙂 While I am devoting time to that test, I will continue to rely on delegation by having some superb bloggers guest post on some productivity topics I haven’t been able to address in this series. Thank you for making this such a rewarding process for me. You’re the best!

Here are the links to the productivity hacks I’ve tried so far:

A Year of Living Productively

Week 1: Paper To-Do List

Week 2: Covey’s Quadrants

Week 3: Routines

Week 4: Paper Planner

Week 5: SMEMA

Week 6: Guilt Hour

Week 7: Envision Ideal Day

Week 8: Do it Tomorrow

Week 9: Pomodoro

Week 10: Time Warrior

Week 11: Scheduling

Week 12: The Repeat Test

Week 13: Personal Kanban

Week 14: Eat That Frog

Week 15: Vacation

Week 16: David Seah’s

7:15AM Ritual

Week 17: Another Simple and Effective Method

Week 18: Daily/Weekly/Monthly To-Do List

Week 19: Ultimate Time Management System

Week 20: Getting Things Done

Week 21: Time Blocking

Week 22: Morning Ritual

Week 23: Beat the Week

Week 24: Productivity Ritual

Week 25: Make it Happen in 10 Minutes

Week 26: Focus & Relief List

Week 27: Accountability Chart

Week 28: Limiting Choices

Week 29: Zen to Done

Week 30: Heatmapping

Week 31: Gamification

Week 32: The 12 Week Year

Week 33: David Seah’s Ten for Ten

Week 34: David Seah’s Emergent Task Planner

Week 35: Steve Kamb’s Do It Now

Week 36: Rising Early

Week 37: Computer Shortcuts

Week 38: Interrupter’s Log

Week 39: Project Management

Week 40: Little and Often

Week 41: Problem Solving Approach

Week 42: Inbox Zero

Week 43: Resistance List

Week 44: Time Tracking

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