Simplify Your Day Module Plan
By Leo Babauta
For the Simplify Your Day module, we have a general plan, with different focuses each week. Here’s the general plan:
- Join the challenge on Lift. You’ll need to sign up for Lift to join (if you’re not already a member).
- Have a trigger for your habit — something you already do every day. Examples: waking up, drinking your first cup of coffee, eating breakfast, brushing your teeth, taking a shower, leaving for work, arriving at work, etc. For this challenge, I suggest whatever trigger happens when you first start work — opening your laptop or arriving at the office, for example.
- Have reminders based on this trigger. The best ones are in the physical place that the trigger happens — if it’s your laptop, put a sign on your laptop to remind you. Calendar reminders are good too, but as backups to the physical reminders.
- Do the habit when your trigger (and reminder) happens. Every day. It only needs to take a minute or two.
- Report your success on Lift — check-in for that habit, so it’s logged and others can see it. Also encourage others in the challenge with props and encouraging comments.
Again, each week the habit will have a different focus, where you’ll say “No” to:
- Week 1: Commitments you can let go
- Week 2: Appointments & tasks that aren’t absolutely essential
- Week 3: Distractions during a distraction-free block of your day
- Week 4: Multi-tasking and rushing
Week 1: Commitments
Each day, take just one small step:
- Day 1: Make a list of your commitments, and a separate list of the 4-5 things in your life that are most important to you (example: my list is spending time with my family, writing, reading, and running/working out).
- Day 2: Mark the commitments on the list that are most important — that line up with your 4-5 important things. Pick the least important one (of the ones not marked as important), and make a call or send an email explaining that you can’t do it.
- Day 3: Say No to the next least important commitment on the list
- Day 4-7: Continue the process, saying No to one commitment each day
Example of commitments:
- Serving on a committee
- Coaching a team
- Playing on a team
- Coaching someone
- Working on or leading a project
- Working with specific clients
- Being on the board of your child’s school PTA
- Picking someone up or driving them somewhere on a regular basis
- An event, dinner, fundraiser, conference you plan to attend
- A workshop you plan to host or attend
- Meetings you have planned
Week 2: Non-essential Appointments & Tasks
Each day this week, take just one small step:
- Day 1: Take a look at your calendar and to-do list, and mark the most essential items (that are in line with your 4-5 important things from Week 1)
- Day 2: Say No to one non-essential appointment (call or email to cancel), or let go of one non-essential task on your list
- Day 3-7: Same as Day 2
Week 3: Distraction-free block
Each day this week, do the following:
- Mark a block of time on your calendar for distraction-free focused work. It can be an hour, 30 minutes, even just 5-10 minutes. Schedule it early in your day (if you get into work at 8, you can start at 8:30 or 9, for example). Have at least 1 thing identified to do during this time — your most important task.
- When that time comes, do not miss this appointment. Close the Internet, turn off all notifications, turn off your phone, put in headphones if necessary to keep from being distracted.
- Focus on the important task you’ve identified. If your distraction-free block is longer than 10 minutes, feel free to get up every 10 minutes to stretch, walk, get some water. Notice yourself wanting to go to distractions, but don’t act on the urge. Stay with the task.
Week 4: Single-task and Slow Down
Each day this week, you’ll focus on:
- Sticking to one task at a time. If you do this for just 10 minutes each day, consider that a successful day, and mark your habit as completed. If you want to expand this practice beyond the 10 minutes, do so.
- Don’t rush as you do the task. Enjoy it. You’re not trying to get to the next thing — you’re already there.
- Don’t rush to the next task! Give yourself breathing space between tasks.