To-do Lists and Reminders

More Energy Project Day #8

Today I started the day with a red eye coffee at my local café. I like working in the morning and this morning I feel energized for the first time in several weeks. I think this energy project is starting to pay off.

Wednesday is usually a killer for me, but today I changed the routine and took the day of to do the work I want to do.

I have tried to structure my tasks for years. I always have a list of to-dos that I never get to do. My to-do list is draining me for energy. I have read one article after the other about how to manage my to-do list, but it never works for me. Leo from ZenHabits is more radical and suggests that I kill my to-do list. I’m not sure I can do that either, but reading his post made me think.

To-dos are usually thing I should have done. The deadline is usually due. Leo suggests using reminders in the calendar if there are things that has to be done at a certain time. Reminders are usually things that have to be done but the deadline is not due yet.

Thing I should have done drain me for energy, but reminders don’t. Sometimes reminders can do the exact opposite. Maybe Leo is right; kill the to-do list? I don’t need to be reminded of all things I haven’t done and never will.

I’m thinking that maybe the trick is to develop a system of reminders that ensures that I get things done before the deadline is due? That would certainly give me more energy.

If I kill my to-dos then that would still leave me with a bunch of things that I haven’t done yet – but maybe I can give them a new deadline?

How do you get things done?

Keep It Simple – One Habit a Month!

162 - Juggling balls © by MrB-MMX

Today I was up at 6.26 and the habit of getting up early is starting get implemented. I have to keep working on this habit. I have tried to create other habits simultaneously but I failed and I realised it is because you can only create one or two habits at the time. Leo Babauta from ZenHabits suggests that you only focus on one habit for about a month and then you can start creating another habit. [6 Rules for Dealing With Habits vs. Tasks]

When I start I project I always get over-excited and I want to do everything at once. But a good and healthy habit takes time and it is worth waiting for. A habit can take as much as 8 months to qualify as a habit. That means you have to keep focus on this habit for 8 months before it becomes something you just do without thinking about it. That is why you don’t want to create more than one habit at the time.

I failed when I tried to add a new habit every week except from two habits: Getting up early and sitting and drinking a glass of water. I could manage these two habits at the same time because they are closely related and have simple rules.

In an article on Pick The Brain by Scott Young [Tips for Breaking Bad Habits and Developing Good Habits] he suggests that you keep the rules of the habit simple or you will fail. As he puts it: “Simple rules create habits, complex rules create headaches.”

I did exactly what he says I shouldn’t do; I wanted to exercise at least 30 minutes every day but it became hard for me to do because the rules were too complicated. I defined and scheduled different kinds of exercise that had to be done on specific hours on specific days. I managed to do this for almost two weeks and then I lost the desire to do the exercise. It became something I had to do but didn’t feel like doing.

According to Stephen Covey a habit consists of knowledge, skills and desire. If you don’t have all of them you will fail. I only had two and I failed. I failed because I didn’t keep it simple.

Habits are Fragile Like a House of Cards

House of Cards © by Indenture

Something happened. Something always happens in your life, something unexpected. Sometimes it’s good things that happen and other times it’s bad things. Then there are also the things that will turn your life around and you don’t know if it is good or bad.

Today I belong to the last category; something happened and I don’t know if it is good or bad, but my life will never be the same again. New habits are fragile because they do not form the stable foundation you need in times of turmoil. So, today I woke up at 7.30 instead of 6.28. I got out of bed at 9.00! I didn’t sit in quietude and exercise – forget it!

There is no doubt that all my new habits would have been a great help, but right now they take energy that I don’t have. Good and healthy habits have to grow strong over time and if you disturb them or poke them around then they will fall apart like a dry sandcastle exposed to a happy dog.

Somehow habits are like a house of cards; I remember how strong I could build a house of cards but in the process it was extremely fragile and if one cards skidded out then the rest would fall apart. It was frustrating starting over and over again building that house of card. I don’t even know why I did it… maybe it was because of the satisfaction of accomplishing my mission?

Today I have learned that I have to accept that sometimes life happens and it is more unpredictable than you can ever imagine. I have to find a way to continue building good and healthy habits under new conditions because they will help me get through hard times in life.

Take Exercise Step by Step

Hard snow #7 © by angelocesare

My exercise habit is troubling me. I’m an active person and I have always loved playing sports and doing exercise, but for some reason it is difficult to implement at least 30 minutes of exercise every day. I can’t imagine how difficult it must be for people who never do exercise and don’t like doing it.

Anyway, I’m sure it is possible to get there if I do it right. Things take time and just like getting up and becoming an early riser I will have to set myself a goal an gradually work my way to that goal.

The first week of exercise went well but the difficulties began when I had a full day of work and other appointments. There is just not time enough to implement an extra 30 minutes of training, at least not right now. I have to slowly adapt to a new lifestyle and new habits and habits can take up to eight months to form.

I do want to do exercise and I have a desire to do exercise; but I have to be honest – I don’t feel the desire for running five kilometres at 6.28 in the morning when the moon is still up and white frost covers everything. It takes a lot of self-discipline to get out under those conditions!

Make a plan

To get exercise every day you have to make a plan:

1. Find a goal and write it down. (E.g. exercise at least 30 minutes every day)

2. Set a deadline for your goal. (E.g. by 1st of June)

3. Make a schedule for each day of the week that shows what kind of exercise you would like to do. (E.g. Monday – swimming; Tuesday – fitness; Wednesday – swimming; Thursday – yoga; Friday – running; Saturday – surprise; Sunday – running)

4. Plan every day step by step. (E.g. join a sports club and attend training twice a week; then start running 10 to 15 minutes; then go to a fitness centre; then make a small workout plan starting with a few push-ups etc.)

The trick is to add a little extra when you feel ready for it. I have learned that you cannot do it all at once. It takes time to implement good habits. You know what they are saying: Good things are worth waiting for!


If you hate to work out then read this article at Summer Tomato: [How to Start Working Out When you Don’t Like to Exercise]

Can the making of good habits go too fast?

Scaffold Tree © by Webb Zahn

I was up at the usual time at 6.28; I poured myself a glass of water and sat for a while. It was nice just sitting there and letting my mind wander. My mind wanted to review what happened yesterday. My first lesson of yesterday was that I could only make a habit if I can find the desire for that habit; but that was not what I was thinking about. My mind was thinking about a healing session I tried.

I think it is healthy to try new things and to be open-minded. I am a reflexologist and I agreed to exchange session with a healer, so I gave her a treatment of reflexology and she gave me a healing session. I couldn’t feel a thing, and I was a bit disappointed I admit. But this morning my mind was rethinking what happened and I realised that I was filled with some kind of calmness that I haven’t felt for a long time. Maybe that healing did something to me after all?

I have learned another lesson by that: I have to consider that maybe I’m pushing myself a bit too hard? I have to accept that my mind and body have limits. Things take time and so does the making of new habits. I have learned that as long as I make new habits I have to accept that I cannot make too many new habits at the same time because then I risk building an incomplete foundation instead of a strong and stable foundation.

My foundation consists of sleep; exercise; diet and cleaning cluttered areas both physically and mentally. But if I break up all of my existing foundation to build a new and stronger one, then what will support my development if I don’t have any foundation?

It would be like building a house without using a scaffold. The scaffold is only a temporary device that stabilises the house while building it. Without the scaffold the workers risk falling down and the working conditions will be too hard and too difficult. You risk that the house will never be finished.

My existing habits are making my current foundation, they are my scaffold and if I want to strengthen my foundation I have to accept that I can only work on some of the foundation at the time or I will not have any foundation at all. My mistake was finding a new habit to implement every week. That is too much.

The past two days have been very important in the making of new habits. To sum up I have learned:

1. You need desire

2. You have to accept that habits take time

3. Do not push yourself

4. Keep a peace of mind