Hello, and welcome to part four of our five-part “ARISE” series! Today, Eric and I are covering the “S” in ARISE (Structure). To listen to the audio, simply click the “play’ button above! (All the previous links to the other letters are at the bottom of this post.)
If the word “structure” scares you, take a moment for a deep breath. 🙂 We know that life often feels more fun when we have the flexibility to simply live moment to moment. I often hear people say, “I don’t want lists and structure because I’m more of a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of person.” That makes me smile because I get it. Freedom, open days, and flexibility are beautiful things. We believe that structure compliments this freedom so we’re not actually taking those things away from you. Instead, as you put the optimal structure into place, you’re going to have more freedom and flexibility. Isn’t that awesome?
Basically, having a doable framework of structure helps us to move in the direction we want to go as we architect our lives. It will also help keep us from drifting because it gives us an active way to live and progress.
This principle is for you if you’ve ever asked yourself, “HOW am I going to make sure that all of my ideas, hopes and dreams happen?”
If you’re ready to start building (or re-building) your structure, simply hit the “play” button up above to get started–or read below for a brief summary of the podcast!
[~7 Minutes] Introduction and ARISE
For those of you just joining us, ARISE is a new membership Eric and I are launching soon, and our last few podcast episodes have been discussing the foundational ideas behind the program.
ARISE is an acronym that stands for: Anchor, Replenish, Invest, Structure and Expand. I do recommend you go back and listen to the first 3 podcasts either now or after this one—because they all go together—but if you’re just joining us for this one, that’s great! The letters can be read/listened to in any order!
To summarize what we’ve already discussed:
A = Anchor
Anchoring means we stop drifting. We decide on our values. We decide what we want to say with our lives.
R = Replenish
Replenish means we acknowledge that we’re most likely exhausted and depleted (in one way or another), and we set up routines so we can take care of ourselves and get the rest and rejuvenation we need. There are so many great “R” words with this topic. Restore. Recuperate. Refresh. Renew. etc….
I = Invest
Invest means that we create space in our calendar and our checkbook for progress. We invest in our minds. Our spirits. Our bodies. We believe that we’re worth the investment, and we don’t consider investments in ourselves as optional or frivolous. They are essential.
And today we’re talking about S = Structure.
In our Steps to Everyday Productivity program (STEP), we help people to create a Command Central—which provides the full framework for this structure we’re going to put in place. If you’re already inside STEP, this is going to be a bit of a review. And if you’re new here, you can find a link to our free STEP introductory course “How to Finally Stop Drowning in Piles” at the bottom of the page. Now, let’s dive in!
[13 Minutes] Deciding Your Own Structure
At LearnDoBecome we talk a lot about architecting a life of excellence. Many of us have recipes for the things we cook, blueprints for our homes and offices, and patterns for our clothing, but VERY rarely do we create a plan for our lives. Our goal here at LearnDoBecome is to help people who are drowning in the details of life to develop simple systems within a supportive community so they can do what matters most, both personally and professionally.
For me, this concept of Structure has several facets:
Routines: Involving self-care, marriage-care, family strengthening, and raising children.
Goals: Including personal, family, business, church & community categories.
Thinking About Who We Are Becoming: Connecting with our Higher Power and pursuing our personal missions.
As we look at these categories above, we typically need to make some hard decisions. Who will be our friends and associates along the path? What habits will we put into our days? What are we working towards? How could we make needed changes?
This doesn’t have to happen perfectly, and I even feel a bit hesitant putting this out there because I know I am only touching the tip of the iceberg, but I think that’s the whole point—we START. We know that there will be changes, and we know that things won’t happen all at once, but once we create some kind of structure that we can wrap our minds around, we can get moving.
[20 Minutes ] Structuring Projects—and how to look at the projects that never get done.
In our STEP program, we talk about creating a Current Projects List. (I first learned about this concept from David Allen, and it has changed my life!) I have a podcast on how I use Asana to structure my projects (linked below), but for today, I’m going to imagine that this is all new to you and that you don’t yet have an optimal Current Projects List.
Here’s where you can begin:
(1) Mind Sweep all your projects (these include projects that will actually be “completed”–like assembling a new desk–and also establishing new routines that will never be fully “completed.” It will give you a great foundation–like “setting up a laundry routine”). Here you can include personal, family, and business projects to organize the projects, perhaps on separate pages or in different sections if you’re doing this digitally. Just focus on getting it ALL out of your brain.
(2) Choose 7-8 projects for this month. I know it’s hard to choose just a few projects out of what could be hundreds on your list, but in order to move forward, we need to first reduce the overwhelm that often develops when we try to focus on too many things at once.
(3) Put the others on a “Next in Line” or Someday List. If you’d like, you may create a calendar trigger to remind you to look at those in the future, but now that you have them written out and saved, just try and focus on your 7-8 at hand…which leads us to the next step!
(4) Work on those 7-8, without getting distracted. Don’t add another project on before taking one off. Just try to invest your energy on what’s currently on your plate. This is going to build momentum, and it will be awesome.
(5) And finally, as you finish those 7-8 Current Projects, you can add more! I like to think of my projects section by section. This helps me stay motivated and feel positive about where I am headed. And, of course, if “life” happens and I need to slow down a bit, that’s totally fine. Our health and sanity come first, right?
At this point, you may be asking how we will keep from feeling overwhelmed as new projects come in.
We can go through our lives doing a lot of important things, but trying to do too much will most likely exhaust us. It will certainly fill our time, and we can claim to be “busy,” but that’s not the kind of life we want to live here at LearnDoBecome. Here are some of the ways that we approach this without the overwhelm:
I personally add 15-30 new projects to my Someday or “Next in Line” list every month–which means a LOT of projects move down in priority. Yes, the list of potential projects is long. But here’s what happens:
1—The most essential things get done, and my life feels exciting because I am focusing on what is truly MOST important.
2—A lot of the little projects get done along the way—without me even trying—because I wrote them down, and they just “happened.”
3—There’s time for projects to incubate. Every good idea has its time.
On a personal note, Eric and I believe that we live on after this life, so we don’t have to squeeze every good thing into the (hopefully) 80+ years we’ll be here on this earth. But at the same time, we believe this life is precious, so we want to use our time wisely.
Another thought that might help is to remember that life isn’t like a grocery store conveyor belt. It’s more like the airplane luggage pick-up point. All the good ideas aren’t going to pile up and get ruined if we can’t get to them right away. They’ll keep coming around, and eventually, if something is meant to happen, we’ll know it, and we can do it! That’s why we believe in keeping our hearts aligned with our Higher Power. When we are working on the right things, we feel it.
Life also isn’t a race to see who can do the most projects. There is no prize if we are exhausted. 🙂 But when we learn to structure our lives to enable peace, growth, progress, and meaningful relationships, we’re all going to notice something really different in how we feel on a day-to-day basis.
[7 minutes] Final Thoughts and an Invitation
Many of shy away from structure because we think it makes us “stuck.” However, we here at LearnDoBecome believe that structure—particularly in organizing our lists, projects, papers, and “stuff” into a Command Central—is what can transform the world.
No one wants to live a life of unfulfilled dreams. That’s why Eric and I are both so passionate about helping people to get organized. We truly believe that each of us has the potential to grow and become the best version of ourselves.
Putting a solid structure in place is a game changer because when you know that your efforts WILL yield results—and when you feel them and see the difference shaping up in your life—it’s awesome.
QUESTION: Have you created an optimal Current Projects List? If so, how’s it going? If not, are you feeling ready to create one?
LearnDoBecome INVITATION: If you haven’t done a mind sweep recently, and if you’re feeling a little overwhelmed mentally right now, take some time to go through the steps in this podcast and let us know how it goes!
“Anchor” Podcast on LearnDoBecome Radio
“Replenish” Podcast on LearnDoBecome Radio
“Invest” Podcast on LearnDoBecome Radio
[PODCAST 15]: How Asana Can Manage Your Projects and Routines (Without Stress!)
The ARISE Interest List/Personal Assessment Sign-Up
Connect with LearnDoBecome! (This is our page that links to all our resources….)
Our STEP Introductory Training, “How to Finally Stop Drowning in Piles”
Jovita Georgia says
I truly appreciate each podcast y’all do. And as for the current projects…. 🤦♀️ I’m great at making them. I am not great at putting efforts of action towards them to get done. But I will conquer them! ☺️ Each month that goes by I become more awakened and have been reading. Which is abnormal for me. I’m looking forward to having actually a stable structure to stand on. Instead of this, hiding from responsibility life. I know I want to be a good helper but I’m afraid of not living up to the high standards, I imagine each project to be. Lol and I am a housewife. Always praying for y’all, please stay healthy. 💕
April Perry says
Jovita, your comments (and prayers!) are SO appreciated! I think you hit the nail on the head by identifying your fear of not living up to the high standards you set for yourself. It would be worth going deeper into those thoughts…. I grew up with perfectionistic tendencies that caused a lot of anxiety and hesitation—and although I am still working through some of that, I’m learning that if I can be genuinely okay with “good enough,” I make WAY more progress. ❤️ Sending love and prayers your way, too!!
MaryBeth Myers says
Oh dear April, you & your husband are a wonderful team. When you started crying about missed time with your parents, I cried as well for the same reason & also about my adult children who I missed so much time with because I was always in a process of pulling my house together. I actually realized yesterday why I was stuck in some rooms procrastinating because the mementos of all their lives were in there & I will be having to feel sadness & regret. I’m progressing & feel like I’m going in the right direction for once. I don’t want to die an unlived life. I don’t want my good intentions & writings to die with me. Thank you for being real.
April Perry says
MaryBeth, what a gift you are! I am so glad we are in this together. We are thrilled you are feeling excited about the direction you are going! And I’m sure those tender feelings we have represent SO much love. That’s a good thing! Sending a huge hug your way!! Thank you for your kind words and for sharing your experience. ❤️❤️❤️
Patricia Kilbourn says
I have used many of your ideas. I have a command center that is organized around file jackets that hold paperwork for each of my projects and one labeled TODAY into which I put anything from those projects that I want to work on the next day.
I have one project: lose weight. Two years ago I weighed 350 pounds and couldn’t seem to lose – I was happy if I went a month without gaining! Since then I have lost 120 lbs. My project plan that I set has enabled me to lose a steady 4 lbs a month. It is slow but steady progress.
I have also set up project plans for the investments I want to make and manage; the courses that I am taking; and some house “stuff”. I am 78 years old so I limit myself to three or four projects in a month and work on the two main ones every day alternating the time. I block 3 hours in the morning and 1.5 in the afternoon for my two most important ones and alternate them so I can get a lot done without overwhelm. Other projects are done on specific days or dates in the month. Mail and bills on Friday mornings and reconcile bank accounts on the 29th of the month for instance.
Most of what you teach is not applicable as I don’t have a family or need to clean house but there is still a lot I am able to adapt to my situation. Thank you.
April Perry says
Patricia, I am so proud of you! It sounds like you are steadily moving toward some wonderful goals and working with a wonderful system. Keep up the great work!! We are so happy to have you here with us. ❤️