In the startup world that we all know and love, there is never a shortage of projects to tackle, people to talk to, versions to test, and code to write. The amount of work can seem unending, and the amount of hours in the day ever shrinking. So how can we level up our days to maximize our productivity, and in turn, our sanity? The solution may just lie in an unassuming sheet of paper, a pen, and 10 minutes of your morning.
Imagine a scattered deck of cards in front of you. 52 cards of unorganized chaos. If someone said to you “Organize those cards by suit and color from Ace to 2”, what would you do? Well you’d pick up the 4 aces of course, and organize them by 2 blacks and 2 reds. Then you’d move onto the Kings and do the same. You’d repeat this descending pattern through the deck for just a matter of minutes, and before you know you it you’d have gone from a scattered pile of unorganized chaos to a thoughtfully organized deck of cards. In our daily lives we’re not playing with a deck of cards. We’re playing with a to-do list and priorities, yet they function much the same.
To master your tasks, priorities, and ultimately your day pull out a sheet of paper every morning when you wake up. This is where the chaos ends and the sanity begins.
- Draw a line down the middle of the paper.
- On the left-hand side of the paper, draw a number of checkboxes where your to-do list will go.
- On the right-hand side of the paper, write out the hours of your day beginning when you wake up. 6am, 7am, 8am, etc each on it’s own line.
- Within that calendar on the right side, write down every set calendar event that you know you have. This could include your daily standup, meetings, lunch, etc. Anything that is on the calendar, write it down.
- Back on the left side of the paper, write down absolutely anything you can think of for your to-do list. If it needs to get done, big or small, write it down.
- Now here’s Part One of the #levelup secret sauce – ask yourself “What are the 2 or 3 things that if I got done today, I would consider it a successful day?” These are you BIG THINGS – the must-dos. Underline them. This lets you know they must get done.
- Part Two of the #levelup secret sauce? Place those BIG THINGS on your calendar on the right! They now become SET events that you work on that day, just like any standing meeting or event.
- Then go through the rest of your to-do list and add them as you see fit to the calendar for the day.
Your day is now set and off to the races. No more thinking about what you need to get done. No more thinking “did I forget something?” No more wondering what you should do next in your day. Anything that didn’t rise to the top in the to-do list simply gets added to the next day’s sheet of paper. That way you have a running to-do list that is prioritized and keeps things from falling through the cracks.
Taking 10 minutes to do this every morning, or even the night before can have profound impacts on your day, your productivity, and your mental well-being. It can save you endless nights of tossing and turning wondering what you have to get done the next day. It can let you breathe easy knowing that you’ve got everything under control. It can let you smile at the end of each day, knowing you did what you could to #levelup your day, and #levelup your life. What habits do you build into your routine to #levelup your day?