Do you crave order? Do you feel deep down that everything would change for you–if you could just get all the details together? I have been in your shoes. I have lived in a home where our piles were covered with blankets and the mess was slow to clean up–and quick to return. I know the pain of feeling constantly busy, but never making real traction on the things that truly matter.
But I have also learned how to get out of the piles and out of the overwhelm. In today’s podcast, I want to share with you exactly where you’ll want to start. The five things I am going to share aren’t overly complicated. But they’ll get you immediate, long-lasting results.
Here are some time stamps to guide your podcast listening experience, or you can simply scroll through the post below to read all the details I’ve prepared for you today! All of the links referenced in the podcast are included below, and at the very bottom of the page, you can find out how to work with us on a deeper level, if that’s the right next step. (Enjoy!)
- 0:00 – My story
- 9:30 – Why five things?
- 16:30 – 1. Calendar
- 18:50 – 2. Routines List
- 25:00 – 3. Current Projects List
- 31:40 – 4. Next Actions
- 40:20 – 5. Emails to Zero
To be honest, I’ve never really thought of myself as a “productivity expert.” I love planning. And I love organizing. But I am a super normal person. I have a husband, four kids, a dog… I drive the carpool. I run errands. Help my kids with their homework. Work from home with my husband. Walk the dog. Go to church.
But I want to tell you a little background story—because when it comes to the five things I’m going to share with you today, I know what I’m talking about. And not in a “let me toot my own horn” kind of way. It’s more like, “Let me help you transform your life so you can actually LIVE again.” I know what it feels like to be drowning in piles and to feel stressed and anxious because the list is never-ending. And I know how to get out of that.
I’ve been studying productivity for more than 25 years. It started when I was 13. My room was messy most of the time. So was our house. We would work really hard and clean up, but the messes always came back—quickly. I craved order, but I didn’t know how to keep it.
I got my first Franklin Quest planner when I was 13. My brother-in-law had shown me how he was making his lists, and I went right to my parents and said, “All I want for Christmas is a Franklin Quest planner.” When I got it, I couldn’t WAIT for January 1st so that I could start using it.
I carried it around for four years, faithfully. My planner and I were inseparable. Twice, I skipped school to attend Franklin Quest seminars, where I sat in the front row and studiously took notes on how to get the most out of my daily planning sessions. Surrounded by business professionals (one of whom you might recognize below), discussing time management, calendaring, reviewing vision statements and goal-setting, I was in my element.
Anthony Robbins and April Perry, FranklinQuest Seminar 1996
I liked how it felt to have a specific list and to have control over at least a part of my life. I used it all the way through college, color coding and never missing a detail. That planner helped me participate in pretty much every activity in high school—student council, drama, cheerleading, academics, church activities, volunteering, etc. People even called me “planner girl” sometimes. I’d take people on planner tours. It was my thing.
When Eric and I got married, I needed a job, and FranklinCovey was hiring. DREAM COME TRUE!! I loved my job and worked there for a couple years before my first baby was born.
Then I became a mother and stopped working to be home with Alia, our first daughter. I still had dreams. I still had goals. I still wanted to learn.
But the problem was that my planner didn’t do the trick like it used to. I remember a friend coming over to visit and asking me, “What do you write in there? Cook and clean?”
I didn’t have control over my time. I felt stressed more often than not. Three more children, and the next thing I knew, I was running in circles all day—busy, but never really moving forward.
I’ve come to learn that is how MOST people feel–whether they’re at home or in the corporate world.
In the midst of all this chaos, I read David Allen’s book, Getting Things Done®. I got so excited about what I read because it finally locked into place all of the training I had had since I was 13. I invited friends over and started teaching them what I had learned, sharing how it had changed my life. Then I wrote a post over on our Power of Moms website. I wrote more, I created a program. And this idea, that had started as a set of principles that I implemented in my own home, grew into a program that has changed the lives of thousands of our community members.
I have now spent probably 5,000 hours JUST on this process over the past 10 years. I have taught more than 100,000 people in 500+ live trainings. I’ve written dozens of articles and engaged with nearly 10,000 people in our Facebook groups. It is so exciting to see how this system is taking off.
And if you’re thinking, “I’d like to build a Command Central and finally get out of the piles and overwhelm,” today’s post/podcast is a gift for YOU.
My vision is a Command Central on every desk. Because I’m confident it will change the world.
BUT WHY THE FIVE THINGS?
Okay, so a full Command Central has 15 parts. The reason I’ve created a full program around this is because you need time to learn how it all works together. It’s like the parts of a car.
But a couple of years ago, I realized I needed a faster way to help people experience the “magic,” or they would think that the concepts I was teaching were just more of what they had done before.
I started going into the offices of CEOs, parents, entrepreneurs, and business professionals and showing them the five most essential parts.
I noticed two things:
(1) Those five parts DID work magic. The people I worked with were able to catch the vision.
(2) But they couldn’t maintain it unless they invested the time to learn the principles for themselves. It’s like teaching someone to fish, instead of giving them a fish.
So I’m now on a mission to solve that problem.
We’re currently in the process of revamping our program (called STEP–Steps to Everyday Productivity). Our new Module 1 is going to be a “STEP Quick Start” that features these five parts of the Command Central.
I honestly can’t wait. My goal is to be able to say to a busy professional or a busy parent, “Give me Friday afternoon, 12-5. Just go through this module and learn these five things, and then notice how you feel. You’ll be hooked. You’ll want to go through the whole program. And it’s going to change your life.”
Are you excited?????
Here are the five things:
- Routines List
- Current Projects List
- Next Actions
- Emails to Zero
Now, I want you to come learn from our program—because that’s where I show you videos, step-by-step instructions, example, photos, etc.—AND we have an entire community to support you. You are worth the investment. And this program works!
But perhaps you’re skeptical. Or you might just want to know what this is all about before you would consider joining a program. Or maybe you’re an independent learner, and you just want to get the gist of it.
So let’s walk through these five things, cover the most common errors, and show you what you need to do to fix those.
#1 – Calendar
Common challenge: Most people feel some stress over their calendar. Either they have no calendar, a packed calendar, or a sub-optimal calendar with no distinction between time-specific and flexible activities. They don’t use triggers. The calendar has become just a jumble of “stuff.”
What I want you to have: A calendar that feels like a blank canvas. Open, tons of white space. Easy, light, seamless.
There are two types of date-specific tasks. Some are date AND time specific, like a reminder to “Call Joan at 1.” Some are date-specific, but time-flexible (ex: “Pick up dry cleaning”).
You need a place to put both – this is essential. Now, I put date/time specific on my Google calendar. And I write my date-specific, time-flexible ones on my Franklin Planner. It’s a simple process, and if you want to see further details, I’ve got them all spelled out in these related posts:
#2 – Routines List
Common challenge: We all have things we do over and over again: exercise, go to meetings, grocery shop, pay bills, etc. But most people don’t know what exactly to do with routines. So they put them all on the calendar, or their task list, or they lump them in with their projects.
Then they have a list that feels like it never ends. Because routines, by nature, never end.
What I want you to have: An optimal way to identify, record, and implement your routines so you feel supported and energized—without the overwhelm.
You need to do a brainstorm of all your routines. I recommend three categories: “Personal,” “Family,” and “Beyond”—volunteer or paid work. Make a list.
What do you do over and over and over again? Daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, twice a year, and yearly?
Date/time specific routines will go on your calendar to help avoid double-scheduling yourself. Others simply need to be in a place where you can review them weekly as part of your weekly review (Asana, a print-out, Evernote, etc.)
Then you need a way to follow up with yourself. If you keep missing a routine, you need a temporary calendar trigger to make it a habit; once it’s established, you can remove the trigger.
The ultimate goal is to have a super simple list of routines that run on autopilot and are not associated with your calendar or your projects list.
Related post: Run Solid Routines on Autopilot
#3 – Current Projects List
Common challenge: Most people have 50-100 projects that they’re trying to work on simultaneously. That’s why you might feel like you are a pinball in a pinball machine.
The projects are all at different stages. New ones come in before old ones are finished. And you can’t let go of any of them, so you add and add. When you DO have time to work, you just pick SOMETHING, but there’s not a whole lot of satisfaction.
What I want you to have: A simple, streamlined way to organize your projects so you can move forward on the most important ones—without feeling overwhelmed.
You’ll want to do a projects brainstorm. Write down EVERYTHING you are trying to do that is a multi-step project, that feels too big to do in just a step or two.
Then pick 7-8 that are CURRENT, across the three categories – Personal, Family, and Beyond.
For the sake of this exercise, I want you to focus on how you might organize your professional projects. If you have 7-8 TOTAL projects, you want just 2-3 to be inside your professional sphere.
Right now I have two: “Plan our Boot Camp” and “Create a Content Calendar for LearnDoBecome for this month.”
Now, I have more projects in my “In progress/Waiting” section. And even more in my “Next-in-Line” list, and even more in my “Someday” list. But the beauty is that I don’t worry about them. I have calendar triggers to remind me to check in on any that are delegated to others, but I can focus all my brain power on just the two projects that I am choosing to do this month for our business.
This is HUGE.
Related podcast: How Asana Can Manage Your Projects and Routines (Without Stress!)
#4 – Next Actions
Common challenge: People often feel paralyzed by big projects. So they don’t do them. They procrastinate. And they just sit—wishing things would change. Their energy is being drained by all the projects that are weighing on them.
What I want you to have: To become SO good at identifying next actions and organizing them by context that you never feel stuck again. And procrastination is no longer an issue.
This works with the two-minute rule I learned from David Allen. The two-minute rules says that if something can be done in two minutes or less, don’t write it down – just do it!
Then any next action you can’t do in two minutes or less, you put on a flexible list that is organized by CONTEXT. Meaning, where you are when you’re getting them done.
There’s a lot I could say about next actions, but if you want to learn more, go to our free training, “How to Finally Stop Drowning in Piles.”
For the sake of this exercise, let’s just practice with my two current projects.
For the Boot Camp:
I needed to spend 15 minutes brainstorming the project – what do I need to do in advance with the sign-ups, the emails, the invitations for people to join the program, the slides for the Zoom calls, the FB events we created in our STEP Mastery FB group, the team coordination, etc. This is a huge project, but 15 minutes getting organized didn’t feel hard.
For the Editorial Calendar:
I decided I wanted to create this podcast to let you all know about the Boot Camp. I don’t know if I’ll ever do another live event like this, and I want as many people as possible to come and join us. So my Next Action was to get onto Evernote and just spend 15 minutes outlining what I wanted to say to you. Simple.
#5 – Emails to Zero
Common challenge: Most people have thousands of emails, important emails are getting buried, and they use their email inbox as a to-do list. It’s stressful.
What I want you to have: Emails at zero. All tasks extracted and put into your Command Central. A seamless system to keep your mind calm.
But the SECOND part of eliminating the email stress is learning how to extract the tasks from your emails and put them into your calendar, routines list, current projects list, or next actions list. Once you learn to do that, it’s just so easy.
I work with people every single day who basically are living inside of a bowl of spaghetti. They have ideas, emails, tasks, texts, appointments, and papers swirling all around them, and it’s hard for them to know where one thing begins and the other one ends.
I want you to have a fresh start. I want you to be able to sit down each day knowing exactly what you need to do—with flexibility to manage all of the new opportunities and challenges that might come your way.
This isn’t a job to me. This is my mission. I love our community, and I can’t wait to serve you at a deeper level.
Perhaps as you’re listening to this podcast and reading through the show notes, you’re thinking, “This is what I’ve been looking for!” If that is the case, all of the details for the five things I’ve outlined above can be found inside the STEP program. It will be the new Module 1 once we complete our STEP Revamp.
But if you want this information now, and you want to work with me personally to set up your system, I would love to have you join our Boot Camp, June 11-14th, 2018. I am going to walk through this live with you—all members of our STEP Mastery program can be a part of it. Click here or on the image below to find out how you can join!
And if you wanted to share this podcast (and show notes) with friends and family, click here to share on Facebook.
Pursuing a vision is an interesting thing.
It requires consistent effort, creativity, serious problem-solving, and grit.
None of this is easy for me. In fact, it’s totally out of my comfort zone to stand up and try to be of service to so many people.
But the reason I’m pursuing this vision is because I honestly believe that if I can fully live MY mission–and help you get organized and clear all the piles in your life, you’re going to be able to fully live YOUR mission.
And that is world-changing right there.
So grateful to have you here with us at LearnDoBecome–whether you’re a member of our formal program or just an occasional visitor of the site. It means the world to me and Eric to get to serve you. Thank you, thank you, thank you!