Stack it up

Photo courtesy of FreddieBrown (Creative Commons)

Photo courtesy of FreddieBrown (Creative Commons)

Ever sit down to put together your task list, and realize there are so many little things to be done that you end up completely overwhelmed? I did that last weekend, and had to step away from it. I knew there was a lot rolling around in my head, but seeing it all down on paper (or in this case, the computer screen) was just too much to take.

But then when I came back to it, I noticed that a few of the things were not really urgent, but more “would love to get to this someday whenever I have a free afternoon” kind of things, so I moved those to my “dreams” list. A couple of things were seriously 2 minute tasks – they took longer to type than to do once I just decided to do them.

Before long, the list was manageable, and I was able to make a plan to get things done over the next week. Whew.

Just like all those little things added up to an overwhelming list of things to do, little things can add up in a good way to make life better.

I’m reading a book called “Habit Stacking” by S.J. Scott that proposes stringing together some “mini habits” into a routine that can become life changing. By consistently doing what starts as a checklist of actions each day, you begin to build some effective ways to accomplish more in any area of your life.

He says, “The simplicity of each habit allows you to complete it and move on to the next habit, sticking to the routine and making a lot of positive changes quickly and efficiently.”

Stack those little things.

My aha moment was realizing that many of the things I end up spending time dealing with each weekend, could be eliminated if I spent just a few moments doing them each day during the week. For instance, I tend to just collect receipts and mail in my inbox because it seems too much to deal with when I get home every day. But then the inbox turns into such a monster, I dread going through it, and put it off until I have to spend way more time than necessary sorting through the junk, receipts, bills, and other items.

So I added sort mail and log receipts to my evening habit stack checklist.

I discovered that by spending literally a couple of minutes when I get home opening the mail, tossing the junk, and logging any receipts from the day, my inbox stays neat and manageable. The mental relief is huge.

Something I added to my morning habit stack is watering my plants. I have a bad habit of forgetting to water and killing things. I just threw out a fern because I had not watered it consistently enough. But now, that task is on my list, so even though I don’t necessarily need to water every day, the reminder is there to check. My plants are breathing a sigh of relief.

It is amazing how productive I’m becoming with my new morning and evening habit stacks. I’m also not having to look at the checklists as often, because they are becoming more routine. And boy, does it feel good to be staying on top of things. Plus, habit stacking helps by being a place to come to get back on track on those mornings when I just can’t get it together.

What little habits could you stack to make yourself more productive?