Creating your own personalized checklist – and using it regularly – can be an essential part of taking your productivity to the next level. Using checklists smartly will energize you and free up more time for your fitness protocols. The end result? You look and feel better.
What would your life be like, if you were even more organized than you are right now?
Would you be happier? Would you have more time for exercise?
I think you would.
In fact, I’m sure of it.
For humans, life just seems to work better when we’re organized.
Being organized means we move through each day productively and end each night basking in a feeling of true accomplishment for our day’s efforts.
Perhaps the best part of becoming more organized, however, is that it seems to create enough extra free time for meal preparation and consistent exercise. This, in turn, can have a profound impact on overall health.
Checklists Enhance Daily Motivation for Becoming Fit
Being disorganized is expensive.
Being organized, on the other hand, saves you money.
On television shows, people seem to have a limitless supply of free time and physical energy. Homes on tv seem to clean themselves – and the shopping, errands, self-care, grooming and workouts all seem to happen magically off-camera.
In real life, however, time and attention are extremely limited resources.
By the time someone puts in a full day of work, runs an errand or two, makes it to the gym, then home to cook dinner, well, let’s be realistic – there’s barely any mental energy left to spend quality time with loved ones.
A good productivity system can help.
Though each us has the same number of hours per week, productivity principles help us to use the minutes within those hours in the most strategic sequence possible.
The foundation of a good productivity system is the simple checklist.
In my case, I use four primary checklists throughout my busy week:
- a preprinted checklist for tasks I do every day: my “quotidian”
- another preprinted checklist for tasks I do once-a-week
- a list of professional “one-offs” for work (I maintain this list online so I can collaborate with my associates)
- a list of personal “one-offs” for home (this list is hand-written)
Three of the above checklists I keep on (old-school, analog-era) clipboards, the other I keep on a digital app that I (and my colleagues) can access from my laptop, tablet, or smartphone.
These four lists plus my schedule (I use Google Calendar) is all I need to get more done in a day.
But are checklists right for you?
Reasons to Use Checklists
When you’re organized, you use your time more effectively – and when you’re able to get more done in less time, it then creates more extra free time for you to enjoy life’s pleasures.
However, everyone falls off the productivity-horse sometimes. These hints can help get you productive again so you can arrive at end of your day – and your week – fit, hydrated, and optimistic.
Even though the technique of keeping a current checklist of things-to-do will help you to reach your fitness goals, that’s not even the primary reason why I endorse it. Here are two better reasons:
Crafting a Checklist is Like Meditating
The process of crafting a to-do list helps you spill the contents of your noisy mind onto paper so that you can feel better and free up space to think more creatively. It creates serenity.
The Process Itself Is Clarifying
List-making refocuses your energy.
It’s true that everyone has a different metabolism and everyone processes information differently, and you might be tempted to think that you’re not a list-making type of person – that you’re too in-the-moment, too creative… or too tired. But, really, all types of people benefit from using a checklist, and the trick is to figure out which type you are.
list-making helps you to realign with your motivation and clarity”
3 Ways People Get Motivated
Primarily, there are 3 types of people: those that scribble down their to-do lists at night, those that make their lists in the morning, and those that keep an on-going list on their computer in real time.
The night-folks like to empty their brains before bed so that they can relax and sleep better. They sit down at the dining room table for a few minutes in the evening, and visualize their day for tomorrow, writing down everything that comes to mind.
Unlike the night-people, the day-folks think more clearly in the a.m. – and like to take a few moments in the morning to write down what they want to accomplish that same day, usually while they have their tea or coffee.
Tech-Savvy People are these gadgety folks that habitually keep an eye on their phones’ project management and list-making apps.
The advantage to doing it the tech-savvy way is that you don’t have to keep re-writing unfinished tasks onto a new list (although, some people want to do it this way, as it encourages them to get things done on the first day).
I use Asana, because I access it from anywhere, and because I want my business partner and my assistant to have access to my list, too. You can use it from your desktop or smartphone. I also keep lists and documents on Google Drive, one of the best tools available online – in my opinion.
Another advantage of going digital, is that you can slide tasks easily up or down your list depending on their priority that day (though an old-fashioned hardcopy list works too, because once you’re done writing your list, you can just scribble next to each individual task “A,” “B,” or “C” depending on its priority).
Which Task on my Checklist Should I Do First?
Hopefully you’re convinced of the significant benefits of keeping a current task list, and also you’ve figured out what type of organizing person you are, and you’ve crafted a list of things you’d like to accomplish.
Now comes the daunting part – you must figure out how to jump into the list and get at that first task.
As challenging as that may seem, actually, is pretty simple:
Start with Whichever Task Is the Most Revenue-Producing
This does not have to be a corporate office/spreadsheet kind of process. State-of-the-art homemakers, too, can prioritize their lists based on revenue.
For instance, if one item on your list reads “return shower curtain to Target,” well, that’s a revenue-producing task, because at the end of it you will have ten dollars more in your pocket.
Or, let’s say that you have a satellite-radio subscription at home, but you haven’t hooked it up yet. Well, you’re paying for it, but you’re not enjoying it, so if you either cancel the subscription or finish hooking up your speakers – either way you’re creating more value for your money, so that’s “revenue-producing.”
Do the Task that Has Been on your List the Longest
Come on, you know that task I’m talking about: the one that’s been lingering on your list for ages and is now all covered in metaphorical dust.
Sometimes it feels energizing just to knock that sucker out and get it done, finally.
Do the Task that You Least Want to Do
There’s always that one task that makes you go, “bleh.”
It can be very empowering just to finish that task so that it no longer haunts you and drains your emotional energy. You’ll be left with an exhilarating sense of accomplishment.
For Maximum Fitness, Use Each Extra Hour Wisely
Now that you’re using checklists smoothly, you will likely notice that your mind is less distracted and you have at least three extra hours throughout the week. That’s enough for three workouts, but which three workouts should you do in order to have the most positive health impact?
I’m a big believer in cross-functional fitness training.
Because the human body adapts to the same movement patterns quickly – much more quickly than most people realize – I find it useful to do a variety of different workouts – outdoor runs, pilates, sprints, yoga, weight training, and more.
However, when I’m having an especially busy week and am shorter on time, I will often opt for high intensity interval training (HIIT) as it combines elements of many different types of exercise into one, fast workout session.
HIIT provides an all-out, extreme-effort workout through quick, intense bursts of exercise, followed by short – sometimes active – recovery periods. What it lacks in duration it makes up for in quality. Typically, the chosen exercises are designed to train the major muscle groups of the human body symmetrically, and also include mobility drills.
Recent research shows cardiovascular adaptations to HIIT are in many cases superior to those of continuous endurance training (those “vanilla” cardio workouts you see people doing at the gym, such as 25 minutes of treadmill). The increase in mitochondrial oxidative enzymes from HIIT workouts lead to more effective fat and carbohydrate breakdown for fuel.
HIIT workouts come in all kinds of programs, but one example would be 10 exercises done for 1-minute each using a timer, with a 10-second break in between each exercise, for a total of 3 complete circuits with a 5-minute run in between each full circuit. At the beginning of the workout would be 5 minutes of mobility drills to lubricate joints, and at the end of the workout would be 5 minutes of light stretching to improve flexibility and posture.
You can also create a short, personalized checklist for packing your gym bag each morning. Microfiber towels? Check. Protein bar? Check. Training gloves, supplements, padlock? Check, check, check.
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So you think you can become a morning person? New York Times: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/11/18/so-you-think-you-can-be-a-morning-person/
What to do when you have dozens of unfinished projects. Pick The Brain: http://www.pickthebrain.com/blog/do-you-have-dozens-of-unfinished-projects-heres-what-to-do/
How to think about debt. Success With Money: http://www.successwithmoney.com/how-to-think-about-debt/
Which type of workout is better? Research: https://www.unm.edu/~lkravitz/Article%20folder/HIITvsCardio.html