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The Art of Thriving: How to Create Your Own Self-Care Checklist

A well-designed checklist can help you become more organized.

The key to increasing happiness in modern life is to simplify your typical day:

  • each fracture in your day drains your energy and – ultimately – diminishes your quality of life.
  • a well-crafted self-care checklist helps you to focus.

Checklists can help improve your health while increasing your positive feelings of accomplishment.

dane findley checklists
article by Dane Findley

While every lifetime must contain its challenges, the purpose of organizing systems is to reduce the unnecessary stress of day-to-day living.

It’s the unnecessary stress of life that can sneak up on you and dampen your well-being.

 
 

You can be even more organized than you are right now!

  • This article will help you to start designing your own ideal, weekly workout schedule.
  • It will also provide you with the tools you need to create your own, individually tailored checklist system – to take your life organizing skills up to next level.

A Checklist Can Help You Feel Better and Perform Better in Daily Life (videos below)

There is a connection between being organized and living a joyful life.

By getting more done in less time, you:

  • create space – giving yourself more time with loved ones or friends – instead of giving them your energy leftovers.
  • have more time to take care of yourself.

In order to improve your self-care and upgrade your health protocols, you have to find the time and energy for it. And that means finding the schedule that works best for you.

TABLE OF CONTENTS: hide

How to Start Designing a Weekly Workout Schedule Right Now

When you tailor a weekly workout schedule and make it compatible with your unique lifestyle, you can take your self-care to the next level.

The results of improved self-care are better health, a better appearance, and abundant energy.

As busy as you think your life is, you can still create more free time for self-care, health protocols, and moments of joy.

By taking an objective look at the unique circumstances of your weekly life, you can tailor a schedule that fits you perfectly and supports your health:

  1. print up a calendar week that would become your new self-care template for standing weekly appointments.
  2. block out 4 one-hour time slots on that template – one for “Walk,” one for “Mobility,” one for “Cardio (or High-Intensity Interval Training),” and one for “Strength-Training.”  These will become recurring weekly appointments that you keep with yourself.

This means that you now have a total of four recurring appointments on your new, weekly self-care schedule.

Soon, your calendar will be an actual reflection of your healthier lifestyle.

perfect weekly workout schedule

Experiment with this schedule for a few weeks and once you’ve gotten it to where you want it, add these standing appointments into your regular digital calendar on your phone or laptop.

6 Bonus Ways to Prepare for Your Best Workout of the Week

We all need a little motivation every now and then to get moving.

It’s so easy in our busy lives to start our day with the best of intentions, but then end up blowing-off our workout plans.

Even something as simple as eating the wrong thing for lunch can suck the energy from our bodies, making us too bloated and tired to even consider a workout.

Here are six more key concepts that can help inspire you to take even better care of yourself this week – especially when it comes to exercise.

Prepare Mentally Best Workout

1. Motivate Yourself with Others’ Successes

When I’m planning my workouts in my mind for the week ahead, I sometimes like to watch videos or read inspirational articles, in order to get motivated and to help myself stay on track with my fitness goals.

2. Choose an Accountability Partner

Recently, I started meeting a buddy once a week at the gym to workout together. We build the day-and-time into our schedules as a regular, standing appointment. We’re having a lot of fun and, more importantly, we’re helping each other to stay on track as we move toward our health targets.

Having accountability partners can be pivotal in accomplishing your self-care goals, too.

 
 

3. Work with Your Current Circumstances

Some days – let’s face it – it just becomes almost impossible to tear yourself away from your desk to fit in a workout (if you have kids, this can be especially true).

Let’s not make any more excuses – there are exercises and mobility movements you can do in your office that only require a few minutes of your time.

“The more the day progresses, the more danger there is of something unexpected interfering with our planned workout.”

4. Be Mindful of Your Mood

You can still do something productive for your well-being, even if you don’t have time to go to the gym.

be mood mindful

One thing I like to do when I’m too busy to fit in a whole workout, is to… do a handstand! All that blood running in the other direction to my brain – it’s a real mood-elevator.

Many yogis believe that it’s healthy and detoxifying to elevate your hips above your head, and I also like to do it because it improves my mood and mental clarity.

Though most people use a coffee first thing in the morning to awaken and get their digestion/elimination revved-up, coffee also makes a good sports supplement. Consider allocating one of your morning cups of coffee toward your pre-workout period instead.

Though I’m careful not to over-caffeinate, I like to have a small cup of coffee about 30 minutes before I have a brutal workout planned.

5. Plan Ahead

One of the big questions you want to ask yourself if you’re wanting to get back into shape is, “Am I a morning person, or a night person?

Generally, you’ll want to plan most of your workouts for when your mind is clearest, your enthusiasm is brightest, and your physical energy is highest (for me, that happens to be mornings).

By the way, when your physical energy begins to improve from exercise, don’t be surprised if that, in turn, begins to also improve other areas of your life – such as your personal and professional relationships.

6. Cut Yourself Some Slack

If you have a challenging experience jump-starting your workouts again, resist the temptation to blame yourself for being undisciplined or disorganized. That only makes it worse! Instead, I kindly advise that you celebrate those things that you’re already doing right.

Cut Yourself Some Slack

When you find yourself procrastinating, it can be helpful to pause to imagine what you’ll feel like as you walk out of the gym right after having finished your workout.

Close your eyes, breathe, and really try to visualize how you’ll feel when it’s all done – that sense of accomplishment, and your body humming with energy and clarity!

Let the memory of that delicious, post-workout feeling motivate you to make it to the gym for the big payoff.

Self-care, for-the-win!

Next-Level, Checklist Organizing

My FREE report The Technique: How to Get Seriously Organized Using a Checklist will help you create your own entire checklist system. It includes the sections:

  • Get More Done! Why Your To-Do List is Your Best Friend  {reading time: 60 seconds}
  • Using a To-Do List: What If I Don’t Feel Like It?  {reading time: 44 seconds}
  • The Quotidian Lists: Your Everyday Rituals  {reading time: 51 seconds}
  • Why Must My Quotidian Fit on One Page?  {reading time: 56 seconds}
  • Super Organized! Creating a Once-Each-Week Checklist  {reading time: 40 seconds}
  • Getting Things Done: The All-Important Errands Checklist  {reading time: 1 minute, 13 seconds}
  • Personalize Your Productivity: Making Your System Work For You  {reading time: 45 seconds}
  • Optimal Organization: Should My Checklist Be Digital, or on Paper?  {reading time: 1 minute, 8 seconds}
  • Daily Life: What Checklist Will I Need to Stay Organized?  {reading time: 59 seconds}
  • You’re Organized! Now Here’s How to STAY Organized  {reading time: 50 seconds}
Checklists testimonial

“I’ve never been much of a list guy- they always seem like an awful lot of work and if I’m honest, there’s no hiding from your having failed to achieve what was on the list. So in that sense, lists have often made me feel bad.  But, what Dane Findley wrote about low-level stress- how you don’t even realize it’s there after a while and it becomes your ‘normal’ baseline-  really resonated with me.  I think maybe it’s about time to try and bring a little order to the chaos, and both the Quotidian approach and Pomodoro technique sound like steps I can get behind!” — Kevin Dunseath, Banking Consultant

And, of course, as you’re experimenting with establishing (or improving) a productivity system of your own, you can lean-in to this site any time you like – to get support, ask questions, and have a few laughs along with your life-improvement journey.

The entire report can be read in under 19 minutes.

Do you have 19 minutes to put a life-enhancing system to work for you? Of course, you do. This time next week, you could be getting more done than you ever thought possible. (The report is free – just opt-in to my weekly email update.)

A Perfect Self-Care Schedule Allows for Abundant, Quality Sleep

The foundation of good health is a beautiful night’s sleep. Sleep is a key to optimal self-care.

If you’re only sleeping six to seven hours a night, that is suboptimal.

I encourage you to consult with your medical doctor and naturopath so that you can make the habit-modifications necessary to sleep deeply and restoratively every single night.

good sleep essential self-care
You can experiment with your eating and sleep schedule to further optimize your self-care.

Many researchers believe that sleeping deeply is one of the self-care strategies that can lead to a long and healthy lifespan.

In the past, I’ve had significant success in my prolonged experiments of waking up unusually early each morning.

Many different times in my life – usually for 3-month periods – I’ve been able to go to bed each night at 8:15 p.m. and awaken the next morning at 4:15 a.m.

During these periods, I am able to accomplish more.

Not everyone is a “morning person,” of course, but the point of experimenting with your bedtime is not to force you into being an early riser; instead, the point is to discover what your own body’s natural rhythms are and then to use that as a basis for creating an optimal schedule.

When your schedule is optimized, it makes it far easier to build even more enlightened self-care habits.

Not only that, it also makes it easier to keep at those self-care habits consistently and to make them “stick.”

How Setting Boundaries Helps You to Optimize Your Schedule

During those periods of waking each morning at 4:15 am, I soon discover that if I’m going to make it to bed before 8:30 p.m. then I have to say “no” more often:

  • “no” to working late at the office
  • “no” to restaurant dinner engagements

By the end of those 3 months, I always seem to reach a new expert-level at setting healthy boundaries.

An Improved Schedule Brings Increased Clarity

It’s counterintuitive, but when you allocate more time toward self-care, your personal productivity will likely improve.

Though the initial adjustment to a new schedule can cause a few moments of strain, once the initial shock is gone you begin to develop a heightened sense of self-awareness and clarity.

Rising each morning will provide you with more calm moments of reflection – moments that are less possible when you’re rushing to get ready for work from the moment you set foot out of bed.

By rising early, you’ll have time to enjoy the morning calmly and set your intentions for the day ahead.

In my case, I could arrive at my desk earlier and get some outrageously effective work done before the rest of the world got hectic and the emails and calls started flooding in.

If you happen to have kids at home, getting them (and yourself) to bed sooner each night will subsequently give you more quiet time in the morning before everyone in your home wakes up and things get louder and more harried.

Beware the Trap of Late-Night Eating

Arriving home after work around 5:30 p.m., my new schedule meant I was forced to begin my evening wind-down rather than continuing to pursue this-or-that project, as I was previously accustomed to doing.

avoid late-night eating
Schedule your sleep, and avoid late-night eating.

As the experiment progressed I perceived the need to shift my evening meal relative to my new schedule. Ceasing to eat at least two hours before sleep was an important step to aid my body’s natural metabolic cycle, and ensure a restful night’s slumber.

I’m telling you, eating before bed is both an art and a science, but if you can get the timing right, it makes a huge difference.

How to Wake Up Lean

It took me decades to figure this out: the way to wake up feeling well-rested – without bloat or puffiness and with a flat stomach – is to not have any grains or flour after 4 pm.

Two good examples of an anti-inflammatory dinner are a Super Salad or a Turkey Sauté.

A super salad is not like a side-dish salad of iceberg lettuce and two wedges of rubbery tomato.

A super salad is a meal unto itself.

Each person gets their own big bowl – a colorful and crunchy array of organic greens and fresh in-season vegetables tossed in lemon juice, olive oil, Himalayan rock salt, and herbs –and then topped with raw pumpkin seeds, and slices of cage-free hard-boiled eggs. As an alternative, vegans can have cubes of tempeh that have been warmed in a skillet.

turkey dinner variation

A turkey sauté is free-range, organic turkey cooked in a ceramic skillet with diced garlic and fresh parsley, mushrooms, celery, zucchini, red bell pepper, Celtic sea salt, white pepper, cayenne, herbs and topped with diced heirloom tomatoes and avocado.

Tip: make sure not to let the coconut oil “smoke” in the pan. Keep the heat set to on medium or medium-high and use a lid on your pan. As an alternative, you can use avocado oil.

Paying closer attention to what you eat and drink after 4 pm is a pivotal step toward improving your own self-care. Your body has a lot of work to do while you sleep each night – repairing and restoring cells and systems – and you want to give it all the assistance you can.

Remember the 5 Stages of Change

Why are some people able to make permanent and positive improvements in their life, and others are not?

That question has been relentlessly researched and answered. When it comes to the science of making new lifestyle changes “stick,” what has been well-studied yet remains little-known is: when people acquire new good habits, it’s most often because they move through the five stages of permanent change.

As you undertake the task of making self-care improvements to your typical schedule, you can leverage these stages to your benefit.

By being careful to move through each of the five distinct stages – without skipping any – you can succeed in developing new, good, life-improving habits.

The stages of change are:

  1. pre-contemplation
  2. contemplation
  3. preparation
  4. action
  5. maintenance

In the video below, I touch on what each of these stages means; however, the key piece is this: when people are unable to make changes stick, it’s because they skip over stage 3: preparation.

This means, any habit you haven’t been able to stick within the past – whether it’s going to bed 30 minutes earlier each evening, or eating an extra serving of vegetables each day, or doing fitness-training four times a week – is likely because you tried to skip over stage 3 (preparation) and move directly into stage 4 (action).

So, how do you do stage 3 effectively?

You can begin by asking yourself some simple questions and answering them as honestly as you can:

  • how will I adopt this new habit?
  • when will I do it, exactly?
  • where will I do it?
  • with whom will I hold myself accountable?
  • for what real reason am I doing this?

The Stage 3 process does not take long, yet it makes all the difference.

Create Your Perfect Self-Care Week

You were invited to start crafting your ideal week of exercise, kickstarting that process in four simple steps – by blocking out one hour each week for walking, one hour each week for mobility, one hour each week for cardio, and one hour each week for strength training.

Now is a good time to begin thinking about other facets of your week, too.

While each of us is given a finite 168 hours per week to fill how we choose, you have more time than you think. Author Laura Vanderkam suggests planning ahead in order to leverage your leisure time and thereby creating a healthier, more joyful life:

  • choose a small number of activities that bring you the most happiness
  • at least one of those happiness activities has to include family or friends!
  • create blocks of time in your schedule for these activities
  • commit enough time, energy and resources to make them meaningful
  • use bits of time for bits of joy
  • if there aren’t enough hours in the week to do all you want, and something has to “go,” then always reduce your television viewing time first.
Create ideal self-care week with checklist

By using these time tips as you craft your new weekly self-care schedule, you’ll be well on your way to improving your self-care, permanently.

Also, please remember (using your new standing-appointment template) to block out one hour each week for a happiness activity that involves family and/or friends.

That means you now have at least 5 standing self-care appointments each week – and those time periods are blocked out on your schedule.

The key takeaway here is to understand that, yes, there are solutions for finding time to exercise each day and for getting enough sleep each night, and I encourage you to experiment with your own self-care schedule and see where it leads you.

Organizing Checklists testimonial

“Dane’s system provides concise, easy to understand, specific instructions for people who want to get organized using a checklist – beginning with a simple, yet powerful, manifesto. No specific forms or software are required leaving the format up to each unique and, soon to be organized, happy person.”  — Paul Puckett, Asset Portfolio Manager

Use Strategy to Create the Perfect Week

You can have your best week ever.

Most organized people have some variation of a “weekly review” for planning their next week ahead.

If you do a weekly review consistently then you will notice that, over time, you are getting more done, reaching goals faster, and having more feelings of accomplishment throughout the week.

“One of the tricks to getting organized is to implement a system called ‘the weekly review.’”

In fact, conducting a brief-but-thorough weekly review will likely help you to have your best week ever.

What is a Weekly Review?

I first learned about the weekly-review concept from David Allen of Getting Things Done. The idea behind a weekly review is that one hour of good planning will then save you several more hours in the long run.

A weekly review is the one hour that you set-aside each week to work on your business instead of in your business.

It’s not a time to complete tasks on your to-do list; instead, it’s the time to map out your week ahead and what you hope to accomplish.

Whether you work in a cubicle, run a large company, or are a homemaker, it’s a good idea to spend a little time each week looking at your life from the perspective of a “higher altitude” and to reconnect with your overall intentions and short-term goals.

The three most popular times for organized people to do their weekly review seem to be:

  • anytime on Sunday
  • Friday afternoons
  • early Monday mornings

For me, my favorite day for the weekly review is Sunday. It’s quieter, with fewer distractions.

personal checklist enhances productivity

However, if Sundays are out of the question for you, you might prefer Fridays – particularly if your work schedule is that of a more conventional 9-to-5’er, you can fully organize your desk so that when you arrive back on Monday morning, you can hit the ground running.

For me, by doing my weekly productivity review on Sundays it helps reacquaint me with my immediate targets for the coming week – and the next morning on Monday everything is still fresh in my head.

The good news is that your weekly review only has to take one hour (two, if you have an especially ambitious week ahead), and you’ll still be able to spend your Sundays having quality time with your loved-ones.

The reason I think Sundays are an ideal day for gauging your productivity is that the business and professional world fires-up again on Monday morning, and your Review process will help you be poised for success and to stay in front of the pack the following day.

“…a weekly productivity review allows you to look at how you process your work during a typical week – this fresh perspective will then help you to prioritize even better”

But whether it’s on a Sunday, a Friday, or whatever day of the week, the point here is not when but rather to determine what particular day of the week works best with your unique circumstances and then to make that day a “set thing.” Pick an hour, on the same day and time every week, and make that your ritual, weekly-review event.

best week using checklist

A weekly review allows you to focus on the various categories of one’s workflow and then, the perspective gained from these reviews can drive one’s priorities.

Basic Steps of a Good Weekly Review

One of the big ideas here is to simply create a little space so that you can get a clear perspective on your week. It’s a way to turn-off all the outside noise for a moment so that fresh ideas can bubble-up to the forefront of your mind, then you can determine the priority of those individual tasks that you see need doing.

Read Your Intention and Short-Term Goals Aloud

I start most group meetings by first announcing what I believe the overall intention of the meeting actually is. Well, a meeting with just yourself can begin in a similar way. Take a few seconds to reaffirm what the intention to your life is. It’s like your own personal mission statement.

checklist creates perspective

Next, take a moment to acknowledge a few of your most-important short-terms goals, both professional and personal.

Spend Five Minutes Identifying Your Givers

One of the most significant self-care lessons I have learned so far in my life is that a healthy way to achieve increased success is to “give to your givers.”

If you can determine who during this last week was most-generous to you, and then provide those people with extra support and gratitude, you will be rewarded in the long run. Many people make the mistake of giving to their “squeaky wheels.”

People either enhance your energy or drain it. Period. End of story.

Take a few moments during each weekly review to determine who the Givers in your life have been recently, and allow yourself to feel the positive feelings and appreciation that are present within you.

Clean Your Desk

The weekly review is a way to get some true perspective on your work week.

It usually feels good to get that email inbox whittled way down – to zero if you can do it. You perfect specimens of productivity out there will already have your inbox at zero, and kept at zero, every day. But for the rest of us mere mortals, the inbox has a way of stockpiling as the week progresses. So now is your chance to cull through that email inbox and turn emails into your own next-action steps, or delegate them to someone else, or delete them.  Do, delegate, or delete.

TIP: Do this step quickly. Don’t get pulled down the rabbit hole that is your inbox!

 

Pin this article to look at again later:

couple outdoors exercising because their new checklist system has them more organized

For those of you who have “hard” inboxes (the old-fashioned kind), this step is when you would go through that box, too. For those of you who are, ahem, less than perfectly organized, your entire desk may function as, essentially, one big “inbox,” so your weekly review is the time to tidy the top of your desk.

For you telecommuters out there who work desk-less, tidy up your laptop computer’s desktop instead.

As you move through your inboxes, you will begin identifying action steps for the week ahead.

Update Your Checklist and Calendar

In a perfect world, your to-do list would have been updated throughout that week in real-time – from moment to moment.  But let’s face it, sometimes the week gets away from us.

Your weekly review is an opportunity to polish-up your to-do list and to identify what tasks next week will be your most revenue-producing in the coming week and also which tasks have been hanging around your list for a long time that you seem to keep putting off (we call those your “frogs”).

And remember those Givers that you identified above in Step Two? It’s likely that you’ll be adding a couple of items to your checklist that involves giving back to your Givers, such as returning a call or sending them a hand-written personal note.

By the way, I use four checklists as part of my own productivity system. Only one of my lists is digital (my professional one-off tasks are kept online so that my team and I can collaborate and add notes to each other’s lists), but the rest of my lists I like to keep old-school: printed on paper and clipped each to its own clipboard.

My paper lists are: my quotidian (tasks I like to complete every single day), my personal one-offs (errands and such), and my once-each-week tasks. My personal one-offs list is hand-written, and now is the time (during my weekly review) that I print up fresh copies of my quotidian and my once-a-week lists.

“Momentum really is the most important aspect of deliberate creation that you could consciously contemplate. Because what momentum says is: Once you get going in that direction, it is more likely that you will continue in that direction.” — Abraham-Hicks

Okay, so now you should be approaching the end of your hour. That wasn’t so bad, was it? You can do this once a week, can’t you?

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One of the last activities you’ll want to do in your weekly review is to glance one final time at your calendar for the week ahead. Your calendar is probably color-coded with a different color for professional appointments, standing appointments, and personal appointments. I hope in your calendar there is at least:

  • one coffee get-together with a buddy
  • a romantic date with your significant other
  • and, for Pete’s sake, there had better be at least one workout scheduled in there somewhere!

To kickstart your organized lifestyle, I created a digestible, easy-to-follow report on how you can craft your own checklist system that meets the unique needs of your lifestyle.

Brilliant Checklists testimonial

“Dane Findley is an authentic thought-leader who understands his own investment in making the world a better place. His new report for getting organized, The Technique, is the missing piece in the crowded world of online advice in that he speaks to the spirit in us that yearns for a better life. Particularly poignant are the benefits he outlines to being more productive and organized: having time for more kindness, compassion and deepening relationships.

Findley provides the opportunity to fine-tune his tips into a personal routine that works for each individual. He offers lists for the reader to complete that include ‘daily’ as well as once-a-week goals and considers that some people will focus on professional development and others on personal. This is a workbook with soul which I can highly recommend” — Miri Dunn, Author

To get instant access to this free report, simply subscribe to my updates (the Quality of Life Newsletter) and you’ll be guided to the VIP Room.

The VIP Room contains a secret library of entertaining – and extremely useful – resources to help you to create a high-energy, purposeful life.

Additionally, each week you will receive an update containing a specific strategy to help you improve the quality of your daily life.

How a Checklist Can Help You Stay Motivated and Get Fit

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’ll look better, and feel better.

fitness motivation checklist

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.

“A study from Psychological Science found being organized can actually have a positive input on what you’re eating. Specifically, the study found people who worked in a neat space were two times as likely to pick an apple to eat versus a chocolate bar when compared to those who were working in an messy environment.” – Bustle.com

Being organized means we move through each day productively and end each night basking in a deep feeling of 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.

Checklist Solutions testimonial

“Live with Intention. Create a happy, balanced life. We all want this, right?  Dane’s tips and techniques are a great way to reduce stress and be more productive.  I’m a list maker, and follow a daily plan. But, sometimes things get in the way of completing my daily list.  I really like thinking of my daily list as organic and always improving.  If you aren’t a list-maker – he provides simple principles that will make a positive difference” — Margie Arnett, University Professor

A Checklist Enhances Daily Motivation to 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.

Fit Checklist for Motivation

The foundation of a good productivity system is the simple checklist.

In my case, I use four primary checklists throughout my busy week:

  1. a preprinted checklist for tasks I do every day: my “quotidian”
  2. another preprinted checklist for tasks I do once-a-week
  3. a list of professional “one-offs” for work (I maintain this list online so I can collaborate with my associates)
  4. a list of personal “one-offs” for upgrading, stocking or tidying my 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 is a checklist right for you?

Reasons to Use a Checklist

When you’re organized, you use 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.

Night Owls

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.

Early Risers

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.

helpful fitness checklist system

Tech-Savvy People

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 on 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 on the list and get at that first task.

As challenging as that may seem, actually, is pretty simple:

Checklist Option: 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.”

Checklist Option: 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.

Checklist Option: 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.

Above is an example of a high intensity interval training workout. (athlete: Dane Findley)
 

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.

mature couple holding hands on beach

Additional Sources on Creating a Self-Care Checklist:

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: http://www.successwithmoney.com/how-to-think-about-debt/

Dane Findley age 54 helps others achieve stellar wellness and a healthier physique.
Dane earned a masters degree in Counseling Depth Psychology from Pacific Graduate Institute. His past professional adventures include being a Therapist and Discharge Planner at a Dual-Diagnosis Hospital Inpatient Treatment Program, Digital Marketing Director for a real estate brokerage, and decades spent as a professional fitness and Pilates trainer. Today, Dane is a Healthy-Lifestyle Advocate and he curates the popular Quality of Life Newsletter – a free weekly update for creative types who want to increase their daily joy. Currently, he’s facilitating the new online course “Silver and Strong: How to Get Fantastically Fit After Age 50.,” which helps people learn to eat for lean strength. Click-through for details.

Which type of workout is better? Research: https://www.unm.edu/~lkravitz/Article%20folder/HIITvsCardio.html

Sleep Patterns and Recovery – http://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/healthy/science/what/sleep-patterns-rem-nrem

How Early Risers Are Different – http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/8763618/Early-risers-get-ahead-of-the-game.html

You Have More Time Than You Think – http://lauravanderkam.com/books/168-hours/

Checklist research studies establishing “Checklist Implementation Improves Team Productivity,” “47% Drop in Serious Mistakes by Using Checklist,” and “Decrease in Needed Brain Processing and Retention Improves Likelihood of Responsible Decision Making:”

  • http://www.reliableplant.com/Read/28934/checklists-improve-productivity
  • https://goo.gl/PpmI9T
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