60 seconds. That is all you need to change your life.
Through the day, your brain goes a million miles a minute, thinking of all the things that you have to do but haven’t gotten around to yet. You get up, and think of the side table you are yet to clean. You go to take a shower, and realize you need to restock the hand-wash. As you drive to work, you remember that the car needs servicing and the tank needs to be filled up. And so on, till your day is finally done, and you lay your head down to sleep, bombarded with a thousand thoughts that turn into a thousand troubled dreams. It is almost as if the to-dos are chasing you 24/7.
Now that I have bummed you out, let me also offer a ray of sunshine. It only takes 60 seconds to get out of this never ending cycle of incomplete tasks!
Let me explain. You need to master three 60-second rules, in order to completely streamline your life and super-charge your productivity. And each rule will not take more than 60 seconds, I promise. In fact, most of the time, it would take much fewer than 60 seconds.
Productivity Rule #1
- The first 60-second rule, is called a Brain Dump. And it is as easy as it sounds. At any time during the day, every day, give 60 seconds to your brain – it is crying out for attention. Set your timer for 60 seconds. Open a note app on your phone, and just keep writing whatever tasks your brain throws at you. Do NOT get up before the 60 seconds are up. They could be absolutely miniscule tasks like – cut your nails or reply to your mum’s good morning message, to major projects like – fix the bathroom sink or research your newest hustle. They could relate to various aspects of your life – some could be absolutely personal (the good morning message), some could have to do with your work, or your house. Or your spouse, or your dog, or your health. Do not discriminate, your poor brain does not compartmentalize into ‘work’ mode and ‘home’ mode. Just get them all out.
It is likely that your first few days of doing a brain dump may take more than 60 seconds. I know, I know, I promised you it wouldn’t take more than that. Well, it isn’t really my fault that you have overloaded your brain to the point that just noting down tasks takes you a few good minutes! But, on a serious note, don’t worry. Very soon, within four-five days in fact, it will taper down to a few seconds at max. Even lower, if you also follow the other two 60-second rules. You will find yourself staring down the timer, racking your brain for undone tasks. No matter where you start – even with hundreds of undone things floating around, it will taper down exponentially. In fact, after the first month or so, you can even bring down the frequency – I would suggest at least once a week, though. Any more, and you run the chance of your brain being overloaded again. Just keep this as a running to-do list. And the next time you have an hour free, you can simply go through the list, and pick out your favorite to-do.
Productivity Rule #2
- The second 60-second rule, is called Finish It Now, It Isn’t worth taking up Brain Space. These are all the miniscule tasks that you notice as you go through your day, and store in the brain, wasting precious neurons, that could be just so much better utilized than to remember to ‘Put the dirty laundry into the washing machine’. You know, like to figure out new ways to earn money or to learn a new skill. And these are the tasks which are so miniscule, that they aren’t even worth making a note off in your newly created running to-do list. Because the time it will take in actually opening the note and typing this new task down, will be more than the time actually required to finish the task. For all of these niggling matters, the rule is simple. Anything that takes you less than 60-seconds to do, is NOT worth remembering. Just do it when you notice it, right then and there. Yes, for the first few days, it will be annoying, to actually finish some things going out of your way. But remember, it is just 60 seconds out of your way, and then – it’s done!
Productivity Rule #3
Like the first rule, this rule will also seem like an annoyance in the beginning, but it will slow down soon enough. But, the tapering of this rule will not be as extreme as the first one, since life loves giving us new tasks to complete every day. What will happen, instead, is that it will become second nature to you, to simply do things as and when they come up.
- The third and last 60-second rule, is the love child of the first and second one. What about those tasks that didn’t make it to your morning brain dump, but also would definitely take more than 60 seconds and don’t fit into the second rule? Well, just take 3 seconds and note it down whenever it strikes you. Whether you are in the middle of a call, or sitting on the toilet, (who are we kidding, the phone is always with us), add it to your running to-do. Like the first rule, you will notice fewer and fewer things making you pause and write.
And that’s it! Seem too simple to live up to my elevated promise of ‘streamlining’ your life? Try them. For at least a couple of weeks. Side effects include zoning out in the middle of conversations to jot a quick note, to keeping your spouse waiting at the door for a minute, because you HAVE to finally put your broken shoe (which you noticed in the shoe-rack, while wearing sandals to go out) into the garbage. But, the positive is that you can finally experience the ‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind’. Albeit without the surgery.
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