The One Hour Weekly Habit to Prioritize, Reduce Your Stress & Determine Your Direction
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If you're here you know or want to learn the power of setting good habits.
Habits can make or break us in life, whether that be in how we run our work days, when (and if we exercise), and even our responses to people.
But with all the priorities you have in life, including even learning about setting these habits, do you ever feel like you're in a ever increasing amount of quicksand? Like you just can never get out of the work and responsibilities that keep piling up? Your stress and anxiety keep getting worse and worse.
With work, passions, errands to run, spending time with a significant other or going on dates, trying to learn new things, travel... there just always seems to be too much.
Over at Light Way Of Thinking, I talk a lot about reducing anxiety and stress, being a victim of them for most of my life. See I'm a Type-A personality - I love achievement, and I always see that there is more to do. When I started dumping everything from my brain into a project management tool (I've tried tons, but LOVE and highly recommend ASANA) and Evernote, my brain felt clearer. But when you look at a list that's a MILE long all the time.... things seem bleak.
So what can you do to get organized? How do you prioritize after accepting that you can only work so many hours in a day?
You focus on what gives you the biggest results in terms of efficacy (doing the right things). And to do that, one of the greatest tools I've found is having a weekly meeting with yourself to decide and determine your priorities next week, and see how far you need to go to reach your goals.
The Structure Of The Weekly Meeting – How To Do It Step-By-Step
It sounds strange doesn't it – haven't a meeting with yourself. Yet at work, we typically have so many meetings to discuss progress and our determine priorities with others... so why can't we do that with ourselves?
Having a meeting with yourself is one of the many habits that you can easily put into place that will help you reduce your stress.
Here's how to do it:
1. Block out one hour for the meeting.
It usually takes me less time than that, but one hour is a good safe estimate so you aren't too rushed. [Learn more about time blocking]
2. Write a goals for the week document every week.
Here, you write down the various projects, priorities, and items to complete. I made a template you can fill in if you aren't exactly sure of how to structure you document and give examples/instructions of how to fill it in. There's a link at the end of the article to get it, along with a bonus read on 5 habits you can start doing in the morning to help you crush your day.
3. At the start of the meeting, check your goal document from last week.
What got done? What didn't? Why or why not? Did you mess up somewhere? Are you overloading yourself? Are you expecting too much?
4. Re-organize, delete, or change your priorities in ASANA.
All my projects (e.g. writing a book, errands, and so on) are broken down in ASANA. And from here, I delete what I don't think is necessary anymore, shift things around that I think are more important, and so on. The items at the top of the lists need to be done first, the latter items not so much.
5. I then go through all ASANA projects and note down what I want to do each week.
I pick the heavy hitting items at the top of my projects (that need to be done first).
6. Use time estimations.
At times I will estimate how long I think each task will take to finish and based on how much time I know I can work (e.g., maybe it's 4 hours a day), I determine if I can or cannot do each task this week.
7. Apply the 80/20 rule and close your loops.
If you're having trouble deciding what to do, try to think of the 20% of the things that will have 80% of the impact on moving forward. I also think about closing my open loops (e.g. finishing things I have half-finished) before starting others. [Learn more about the 80/20 rule and how it can improve your life.]
8. Write down things to consider/do next week.
Finally, note down if there's anything you should do next week in terms of tasks, or to review during your next meeting.
At the end of all this, I clean up my document, and use it as my guiding light for the week.
Despite my anxious, always feeling like I could do more nature... this weekly habit combined with knowing that I can only do so much work during the day, that I need to have a life outside work (which will actually make me work faster), and that I'm doing the best that I can allows me to continuously hit the biggest items on my projects that will move me forward.
And yes I know what you're thinking - this seems super anal, Type-A (hey, I admitted it at the beginning of the article), and can kind of take the fun out of more light hearted projects. E.g., I'll even break down trip preparations I need to do in this document.
But organization and setting priorities will make your stress levels drop. It's definitely not for everyone, but I suggest you try it. If you're consistently hitting your priorities and doing things that really push you forward, you can't fail. You might not get as much done as you'd like, but you'll continuously push forward in life.
Other Helpful Suggestions To Help Reduce Your Stress And Supercharge Your Productivity
A foundation of productivity is knowing your limits and focusing on doing the right things – that's what the weekly meeting is for. Having a good system for structuring how you work (how long you can work each day before burnout, knowing how the Pomodoro technique help you...) is also essential.
Here are three other things you should get used to doing:
If there are repetitive tasks or items you don't like doing in your life, hire someone else to do them (assuming you have the money). Your time and life are too precious to spend them doing something you really don't need to do or shouldn't be focusing on. Chris Ducker has an entire book, Virtual Freedom, and brand dedicated to virtual assistants and outsourcing.
2. Saying No
There are always going to be obligations, whether that be social, work-related, or even mental: Someone invites you to a far away party, you think your website needs some tweaking, you brain says you should worry about what someone thinks about you. Again, you know deep down what is important to you and what you should be doing, and there's no reason you can't say no.
3. Setting decision limits
Don't spend time going over things for no reason and don't try to pick from 20 different options. See Tim Ferriss' article on his choice minimization rules.
This weekly meeting habit has helped me out immensely. I don't always hit ALL of my benchmarks, but at least I know the critical items I should be focusing on one week at a time.
Let me know how it goes and I wish you the best of luck. Just remember: Work is always going to be there tomorrow so no matter what, set limits on when you finish (don't work 24/7), be OK with not getting 100% of your stuff done, and keep on truckin'.
About the Author
Noam Lightstone is a patent-pending inventor, digital nomad, author, and engineer. He is the founder of Light Way Of Thinking, a resource aimed at destroying anxiety and depression through self-improvement. His new book, Mastery Of The Mind, is on sale now at Amazon and can help you overcome mental stumbling blocks like fear, anxiety, and procrastination.
Grab them now! These are exclusive to readers of Develop Good Habits.