Stop Using Your Planned Tasks to Kill Yourself. A Life-changing Way to See Your Planning

Mar 7, 2021

I’m a productivity geek.

Maybe you’re too if you’re reading this.

I guess you love planning your day at the beginning of it.

It’s great:

  • to think about what you’ll do,
  • to visualize the things that you’ll accomplish,
  • to create time blocks in which you’ll perfectly define a start time and an end time,

When you see everything in its place, and you just have to do, execute, it’s kind of release because, as I use to say, “doing is the easiest task”.

The point is life is not perfect, and neither are your days.

You begin to receive interruptions, unexpected things, phone calls…

That’s why you should always plan your days with a lot of “empty spaces” in them.

That’s what allows you to manage all the stuff, trying to do your planned things (at least some of them).

The real and painful initial situation

What happens is that you use to get anxious whenever you see the day keeps running, and your planned tasks are still at their starting point, without moving forward, not even a little bit.

Don’t worry. Although I’ve made a lot of progress, there are some days in which I’m still fighting against this situation. It’s not easy to overcome.

That’s one of the most common feelings we, as “productivity geeks”, suffer from.

You have to learn how to deal with it because anxiety mustn’t be inside your life.

As this 2019 Frontiers in Psychology’s article says:

Anxiety is a state of heightened vigilance (Grillon, 2002) that is associated with an increase in overall sensory sensitivity due to uncertainty or conflict (Gray, 2001; Cornwell et al., 2007; Eysenck et al., 2007; Grupe and Nitschke, 2013). A characteristic feature of anxiety is the limited control over worrying thoughts and attentional biases, contributing to a greater focus on negative stimuli (Matthews and Wells, 1996). It has been shown that anxiety disrupts cognitive performance (Maloney et al., 2014), including WM (Moran, 2016). This relationship works both ways, as cognitive impairment can lead to increased anxiety (Petkus et al., 2017).

Being clear that you must run away from anxiety, you should always look for peace, calm, relaxation, and that kind of feeling to perform at your best.

The concept

I changed my mindset a long time ago, talking about how I see my planning. I think this perspective can be useful for you.

Planning is not what I plan/should/have to do.

Instead, my planning is a priority plan. It indicates to me what my priorities are.

I know it may sound strange, incomprehensible, or difficult to catch, but this point of view is the one that can change your whole life (as it did mine).

It takes all pressure off.

Today, I don’t look at my planning with my “productivity self” shouting, “HEY, THIS IS WHAT YOU HAVE TO DO TODAY!”.

Instead, I look at my planning with my “clever self” gently saying, “HI!, THESE ARE YOUR PRIORITIES. PLEASE, TAKE CARE OF THEM…”.

I’ve moved my mindset from an “obligation” to “information”.

From shouting (with an exclamation mark) to recommending (even using please…).

We have to respect ourselves, being friendly, taking care, being gentle.

We don’t have to be rude, tough, intransigent… with ourselves. That undermines our ego, our motivation, our performance. It generates anxiety.

What I use my planning for

Making this previous mindset, life changes to a much more beautiful world, in which slavery to your duties never exists.

You feel free, comfortable, proactive, calm, without anxiety, in your best position to be a fantastic performer.

I do exactly the same, talking about creating my planning. I have a look at my projects, tasks, whatever I’ve written down I have to do, and check them with my priorities, planning my day.

Obviously, I leave “blank spaces” to fill in with those unexpected events that will always happen.

I always set 3 goals for each day, knowing I have to do at least one of them, my “highlight of the day”, the one that makes me finish the day with pride, feeling I’ve moved forward towards any of my most important goals.

My planning is my reference whenever any unexpected event “attacks” me.

I check the unexpected event without pressure, being objective, comparing it with my planning.

I always ask myself the same question:
Is this new unplanned task more critical than the planned one?

Here you have to be honest with yourself. Don’t lie to yourself. Think pragmatically about which of those 2 tasks will take you closer to your most important goals.

Life is not perfect. Sometimes you have to face binary situations. You have to choose between the red or the blue pill. There’s no choice. Just one.

Having things planned simplifies this scenario because your options are very clear.

You have a clear vision between your planned things and the “new visitor”.

Just choose. No matter what you do, you will always do the right thing because you perfectly know your priorities.

Re-schedule your planned tasks, if necessary, and start doing what you’ve chosen.

How I end my day

I always finish my day with a victory because I’ve done what I have to.

Finishing your days with victories, with that positive sensation, will bring you peace of mind, motivation, the fuel you need to keep on moving towards your goals.

You notice that sense of control that gives you the security we all need to feel comfortable with ourselves.

Say goodbye to:

  • Anxiety.
  • Guilt feelings because you didn’t do what you said, at the beginning of the day, you had to do.

Say hello to:

  • Accomplishment.
  • Satisfaction.
  • Pride.

Change your spirit (and life) from defeated to victorious.

Takeaways

The day has the hours it has. You cannot change that.

The point is dedicating that time to your most important things, not the ones you planned initially.

Life is dynamic, so our systems should be too.

If you only dedicate your day to do your most important things, how come it cannot be a great day?

You have to pay attention to these types of changes in your mindset, in your behaviors.

They’re not easy, but you’ll begin to feel much better as soon as you start practicing them.

They produce positive emotions, those you need to stay calm, focus on what’s really important, and perform at your highest level.

This change of mind was life-changing for me.

If it worked for me, why don’t you give it a try?

Photo at the top courtesy of engin akyurt on Unsplash.

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