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can limiting choices help you get more done

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This is Week 28 of a Year of Living Productively

This week I tested whether limiting my choices could help me get more done. I simplified my daily routine and rewarded myself with an A for every day I accomplished 90% of it. Scroll to the bottom of last week’s post for more details.

How Limiting Choices Saved My Sanity This Week

  • Finally gave me a sense that I was doing enough. Getting an “A” for the day made a huge difference in my satisfaction with how I spent my time. Previously, I don’t think there was ever a day I got every single aspect of my routine done. It was more than any human being could accomplish. This time I did it and without feeling that I had to be perfect.
  • Gave me guilt-free time. Because I included free time as part of my routine, I could kick back and do something completely frivolous without feeling I needed to be doing something else. It was like being on vacation at home.
  • Motivated me to work ahead. Because I finally had a routine I could actually finish, I found myself using those odd times to finish my tasks early. It was the strangest feeling because I hadn’t done this before. There was no point. Why work ahead when you’ll never finish it all anyway? I think I was able to achieve what I was looking for from Beat the Week.

How Limiting Choices Made Me Crazy This Week

  • Trouble defining the A. On a couple of days, I found it a pain to determine if I’d done 90% of the tasks. I do enough math with the kids! I also needed to define what “doing” each task meant. I wasn’t sure if I needed to require 100% completion of each to count. I didn’t like the ambiguity.
  • Accepting the B. I only earned a B one day this week and I had to really think about this. Did that mean the approach wasn’t working? Was I allowed to have an off day? I wasn’t sure.

Did Limiting Choices Help Me Get Things Done?

Oh my, YES! My household and cleaning tasks are completely caught up. For the first time in weeks, I even had my blog posts done ahead of time. But even more important for me than getting things done is that I finally feel good about me and how I’m managing my work. I realized that I am like the teacher who can’t be pleased when it comes to evaluating my own work. That is going to stop. I decided that making any effort to do a task in the routine counted and furthermore, having a day a week that I don’t get an A is more than O.K. This spontaneous, fun-loving lady will wither with too much rigidity.


I still limit my choices just so I don’t drive myself crazy trying to decide on lots of good things. But I don’t “rate” myself at all anymore. As long as I am meeting my deadlines (external and self-imposed) and I am making time for the most important things in my life, I don’t feel the need to grade myself. My perfectionism has died down and I am much more relaxed thankfully!

Can Zen to Done Help You Get More Done?

The Productivity Approach I’ll Be Using for Week 29

This week I’ll be testing Zen to Done using GTDAgendaI read Leo Babauta’s book some time ago, but I am amazed by how many of the practices that improve my productivity it encompasses. Like GTD, it emphasizes collection of tasks into an inbox and a weekly review. Like Covey’s quadrants, it emphasizes focusing on important, goal-related tasks. It incorporates routines, time blocking, and even timers if you like. One to three MITs (most important tasks) are planned for each week and each day and are addressed first, similar to Eat That Frog.

The concept. Leo describes the system he uses to get things done. He emphasizes the need to spend more time doing than playing with systems. He also keeps it simple enough that people who dislike more complex systems will approve.

Although Leo recommends paper, I was given the opportunity to try Zen to Done using a GTDAgenda premium membership free of charge in exchange for my honest review.

If you’d like to join me this week, here’s what you do. Read the basics of Zen to Done here. Implement with paper or if you’re interested in trying GTDAgenda, sign up for a free account here, then read how to implement Zen to Done using it.

To see how my week with Zen to Done went, click here.

If you’ve tried limiting choices, please comment. Click here to follow me on Twitter.

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