For today’s episode (100!), we wanted to do something special. So we invited you, our community, to share the best productivity tips that you’ve learned during your time here with LearnDoBecome. Whether it’s advice from a podcast guest, a tip from the STEP program, or a great idea from a fellow community member; we wanted to celebrate the incredible work that YOU are doing and provide a really valuable podcast of inspiration and tips for our whole community–from our whole community.
Now, I want to be clear that I wasn’t trying to make this a commercial for our Steps to Everyday Productivity (STEP) program. (our signature course that helps people build a Command Central and get out of the piles of clutter….) I also wasn’t trying to request compliments. I learned these principles by doing a LOT of reading, researching, working with other people, and putting the ideas to the test in my own life. The reason I am so excited about a STEP Command Central on every desk is because it solved my personal pain point of “the overwhelm.” It helped me to see that I could accomplish projects and keep up with the details of life without being stressed out. When I started to see that the system didn’t just work for ME, I knew it was my mission to teach it. That’s why I’m here.
So I’m going to go ahead and take you through a few of our incredible community members’ success stories—and show you how you can apply the same ideas and principles to YOUR life!
I have been impacted, so much, by the simplicity of the STEP program, and most of all by the Next Actions list, oh my goodness! So with my four kids all being under the age of seven, it has been overwhelming time and again, just trying to get on top of things as far as cleaning and organizing. I used to hate lists, I used to think “lists are pointless.” Because they don’t tell me how to do anything, they just have all these things that I have to get done, and then if I don’t… it’s just depressing.
But the Next Actions list helps me to lay out simply, exactly, what I can do next, so there is no doubt, there is no fear of the unknown. There is just me getting this one thing done at a time, taking little steps, in the direction of completing a task. Now I actually believe in myself to get something accomplished- like a project! I feel like “Yeah, I can do this! Instead of this daunting thing like, “Oh should I put my faith out there that I can actually get this thing done?! With four small kids?”
But it’s so freeing, it’s helped my mind set change, and I still have so far to grow, but I really feel like now I have the upper hand…like I can do this! It’s been super encouraging. So, April and Eric, thank you so much for your encouragement and how you have been faithful to teach many mothers and fathers, (and everyone) like me, just to get a simple list of what to do next.
This seriously brought tears to my eyes. I remember feeling like projects and to-do lists were “a thing of the past” for me. When you’re juggling a family or managing constant interruptions, it is incredibly hard to even remember what you were thinking about working on. And if right now, you’re saying to yourself, “I want a Next Actions List,” our free training (LearnDoBecome.com/STEP) will show you how to get started, but the quick answer is that you create one note divided into contexts—phone, home, computer, errands, and to-discuss–and then you write one-step tasks on them that are so simple, you couldn’t possibly procrastinate them, even if you tried. When those Next Actions are linked to your Current Projects, and you keep doing them day after day, projects magically get done. 🙂 We have lots of additional podcasts and videos on this topic if you search “Next Actions” on the LearnDoBecome homepage!
Your idea of a “waiting” folder is probably my number #1 favorite and has easily saved us the cost of your program in just a couple months from starting the program–and lots more savings since then! Things I just never had a system to track before are now put there until they’re completed: returned items, incorrect bills, rebate offers…[where] I’ve done MY part, and I’m waiting for someone to do their part–that goes in that paper file or email folder. It has saved me so much time, frustration and real money!! (Kind of a significant amount of money.) That “waiting” folder is one of my biggest accomplishments with the program, and one my husband loves to watch my excitement as I let him know what was saved on, what we received answers on, etc. I used to turn a blind eye and hope with some added mental worry and think to myself, “Surely that person will credit my account correctly.” BOY, I was soooo wrong. I don’t even want to think of the times I didn’t follow up before I had the easy “waiting“ file. Even though I still have plenty to do, and plenty to learn, and maybe to become something a little better, I pretty much could do a tutorial on why someone really should do your program. I believe in it that much!!!
Okay, she’s so cute.
Again, I wasn’t trying to make this a STEP commercial, but I love hearing how this one little idea has given such a lift to Rebecca and her family.
Want a “Waiting” folder in your own life? It can be digital or paper (or you can have one of each), and whenever a task is depending on someone ELSE, you record it in the folder—or place the receipt/invoice/paperwork in there, and then you set a calendar trigger to remind you to follow up on a certain day. You’ve returned something online? Make a note to check your account to see that you’re credited. Someone says they’d like to hire you for a project, and they’ll get back with you in a month? Put the paperwork/quote in the Waiting folder with a calendar trigger in a month. A friend borrows money? Or a special book? You’re supposed to get a payout from an investment? These all go into the Waiting folder.
We’re not trying to pester people or be “that person” who’s hyper-sensitive about anything he/she loans out, but it’s a simple way to calm your mind and help you to know that all those random thoughts/items/commitments/requests, etc. have some systematic way to come BACK to you!
The biggest win I have had, quite honestly, is the mind dump. I used to have all these thoughts in my head, and I couldn’t sleep at night. I had tons of papers (I like to write my thoughts on little papers, but they were just random papers—tucked in my purse, on the back of a receipt, written on a sheet of paper, and just kind of all over the place.) And I found that I was writing some of the same things down over and over again.
So through the STEP program I was introduced not only to the mind dump and to the inbox processing, but also to Asana. Asana is a digital app that has just transformed the way that I can organize my thoughts. I took all my little bits of paper from all over the house and put them in my inbox. Then I went through each item on those pieces of papers. When you follow the STEP program you have a process. So there is a 2-minute “do it” rule. You ask yourself is this a Routine? Is this a Next Action for a project that I am working on? Is this a future Current Project? So I was able to quickly go through all those things and put them safely tucked away in Asana. Now I have a streamlined approach to get my projects done. I know when I have new ideas come in, I have a place to put them and I don’t have to worry about them any more!
Thank you, Juventa!! I love this so much. This is one of my favorite concepts, as well. And I LOVE that Juventa has a system now that supports her moving forward. You can do the same thing! You write out ALL the things in your mind. All those little thoughts, reminders, what ifs, goals, projects, etc. And then you process them and put them where they belong—with a weekly review that will keep things consistently organized week by week!
At the bottom of this post, I’ll link to the podcast where we talked more about processing and the 8 questions you need to ask yourself about each item. It might seem like a pain to learn a whole system for these things, but you learn it once, and it’s a game changer!
I learned how to organize tasks by type to organize my daily to-do lists. That means I use “P” for everything I can do on my phone, “C” for tasks I need to complete on my computer, “E” for errands to run, and “H” for tasks to complete in my home. I use a “heart” for self-care related items such as working out, or meeting with friends and family. Before this I just had one long list of things to do, but now I can move through this list quicker when I can batch process all the items on my phone, computer etc. to better organize my day.
So awesome, Rose!! I love how she is tailoring this to meet her specific needs—and how she is using symbols or letters to remind her of context. A super long task list doesn’t get done because it feels overwhelming. But a simple, segmented list DOES. You can do this, too!
When I first took this, I remember feeling overwhelmed, feeling like things were falling through the cracks. There was paperwork I hadn’t attended to, or I’m going to forget something, and all of that created a lot of cloudiness in my head. And now, for example, when I go to the chiropractor, people actually say how calm I am, and how peaceful I seem to be. And I think a big part of that is because all the paper and all of the stuff that is coming into my life has a place to go to and I know I’m going to get to it.
And my life is quite full at the moment, I’ve got a newborn (he’s just three weeks old) and three boys, I run a business, (now it’s quiet because I’m on leave), but it’s knowing that there is a season for everything. I will get to certain things and I will put certain things on pause. My Command Center enables me- (I borrowed April’s cubby system for how I arrange things). The last two years that I have been in the program I recognize that it’s about progress.
I’m really good now at completing projects, even in the home, because I know what the exact next right step is. When I look at something, I don’t get overwhelmed so much, for example with the laundry. Because I look at it and know the first step- take the baskets to the laundry, and I can fit it in. So I can’t rave about it enough, it’s a must for all busy families, and people wanting the headspace to do projects that are meaningful to them. It just allows you to breathe more easily and I’m just really grateful. Thank you!
Love this, Nadhira!! I love how other people are commenting on how calm she is. And as you hear about her life, you can tell it’s not what most people would call “calm.” She has a young, active family (it was fun to hear them in the background). She’s running a business. She’s managing a home. She knows how to break things down, and she knows what her next step is.
We can practice this for you right now! What is something that feels overwhelming? Think of one room, for example. Or maybe your taxes. (Any time I mention taxes in a live class, I see immediate comments in the chat that say, “How did you KNOW I was stressed about doing my taxes?”) So whatever it is that you’re feeling overwhelmed by, what is the VERY next task you could do to move it forward? For taxes, do you need to make a phone call and set up an appointment with a tax adviser? Do you need to install a tax software onto your computer? Do you need to gather receipts? Download bank statements? Email an employer? Or for that crazy bedroom mess, do you need to find a place in the garage for your recent camping purchases? Or make a decision on whether or not to keep that fake house plant a friend gave you?
Breaking things down is a skill that will serve you your whole life. And that, combined with the other elements of productivity we teach here, will make a huge difference for you!
One of the best tips I found at the beginning of the program was to deal with things- everything! How I thought, organized, planned, place things…to be efficient we must have an organized way. Starting with deleting emails and setting up the Command Central. This ushered in for us as a family [a new system]. There was much work for us to do, but it was going to be done in a way that we don’t have to start over, and over again. I am forever thankful for that.
I love those thoughts from Blanca! To be efficient, we need an organized way to manage our emails, thoughts, and all of the things that come into our life. It’s not always easy, but it can be done in a way that we don’t have to start over and over again. Who wants to start over and over again? Nobody. 🙂 You build a Command Central once, and it’s built for the rest of your life. Like learning to drive a car. Or learning to ride a bike. This is so doable—and it’s a skill that I believe everyone needs to learn!
I am so grateful for all of our community members who participated in this 100th podcast episode. (And please add yours in the comments below!)
I hope that this has been inspiring for you! Community success stories are literally coming in every day—and you can see some of them on our social media (@LearnDoBecome on Instagram or LearnDoBecome on Facebook). Plus, we post them on our testimonials page, which I’ll link at the bottom of this post. We are so grateful you are here, and if you are feeling overwhelmed—for any reason—I want you to know that there is hope and support here for you!
CHALLENGE: Take one of the ideas you heard in this podcast and implement it into your life. Start a Next Actions List or do a Mind Sweep or check out some of the links below! We’re cheering you on!
- My STEP Journey: Featuring Community Member Juventa
- STEP Testimonials Page
- Three Tips to Create a SUPER Streamlined Next Actions List
- 8 Processing Questions
Free class: How to Stop Drowning in Piles
Have you had a chance to join our free class? If not, we’d love to see you there! Sign up here!
There are so many things I have learned (or re-learned) from your site and your STEP program! It has totally changed how I function in processing information.
I had read GTD before, and thought it sounded like a lot of work, but through your program, I now see how simple it is. I now have my Command Central with one inbox on my desk, I have a tickler file system to store upcoming items by month, I use the “Waiting” folder a lot, (and check it often to keep on top of things that have gone out of my control), and have changed to the Freedom Filer system. I have cut my filing space needs in half!
I have gone back to a Franklin Planner system (compact size) so I have room for must-be-done-today tasks, appointments, and notes every day, because it is so much easier than notes everywhere or setting up a bullet journal. I use a combination of your Next Actions list as well as the Franklin Progressive Task List (more of a running brain dump) back-to-back in the page marker, so that I don’t have to keep re-writing tasks that don’t get done, I just carry the bookmark forward to the next day! And I use calendar triggers to remind me of things to keep tabs on in the future.
As a retired person, I didn’t think I had that much I had to keep track of, but my messy desk told me otherwise. Now my desk has never been so clear, and no more late payments, missed events, forgotten projects, or piles of papers. I just work the steps, and it gets done! Thank you!
Taryn Wood says
Laura, this is amazing! Thank you so much for sharing a snapshot of how your system works with us. We’re so happy you’re here! Keep up the good work!!
I loved this episode more than I thought. How practical those examples were on following the STEP program (which is the best thing that ever happened to me with my quest to be organized)! As a member for almost 2 years, with my system all set up, I still struggled to see the use of designating separate areas for my projects list. Since I’m a stay-at-home mom (who works for hubby’s practice sometimes), everything seemed to go under the category of something like “Projects for Everybody Else”. I’M FINALLY GETTING IT – I am an individual with goals, some of them benefit my family and some are beyond. I loved hearing the practical application of this STEP program from these ladies (I know there must be men out there, too). So, I’m glad I’ve stuck it out even when skipping the Weekly Review and still have a small pile of papers. As in, they are not 4 large piles left on the floor of 4 different rooms for fear of not finding something. Because as I listen to every podcast, review the Modules, review my printables (laminated because laminating is awesome), post and read Facebook posts, I am able to understand more and more. People can benefit so much from everything that is free (podcasts are the best) but the money spent on becoming a member of the STEP Program paid for itself after the first Module! These modules are broken down so we work on only one step at a time. It’s doable so that we can all have success. Thank you April and Eric!
Sammye B. Smallwood says
Michelle, you encouraged me. I’ve been a member for less than 6 months and although I have made great progress. I have so far to go!! I, too, often skip the weekly review…I have not made checking the inbox a habit….I am remembering the 2 minute rule and I do it! You help me to persevere. My kids are grown, heck, even my grandkids are grown so I have no excuse for not making more progress. Whew! I just really needed your encouragement. I am not reading Facebook posts (another habit I have not established)! But I am keeping my emails to less than 20 each day!! What progress that is to someone who had 3000 when I began to delete. Its hard for me to make new habits. I’m an older person with bad habits! Thanks to you I will push on!!
I am no where near where I’d like to be. But, the Next Actions list has been GREAT for me! I write down the tasks I want to get done for the week. If I think of something that I can’t get done this week, I write it on the back of the list.