Untitled designRecently I got overwhelmed…I was working on launching my second non-fiction book, writing the next one in the series, completing various house projects, and ramping up a job search.

Add to that the approaching holidays and the fact that I was falling ever further behind on my novel writing (I’m doing my first NaNoWriMo so this was kinda a big deal).

With deadlines approaching and various moving parts, I had multiple to do lists. Things were getting out of control.

Time for drastic measures. I decided to ditch the to-do list; instead I  made a STOP WORRYING LIST.

Here’s what it looked like:

My Stop Worrying List

First, I revisited what the heck I was doing. I asked myself what was getting me up in the morning? Apparently I needed a reminder and to see my purpose (goals) on the TOP of the page.

My number 1 goal was to write–I had a goal to self-publish a total of four books in 2015. I realized I wasn’t putting enough focused time in on writing and increasing my word count. Also sadly, I was neglecting this blog and some of my social media that I had worked hard to build up over the last few months.

I also needed to continue working on selling the books I had already written. I had a well-designed launch plan that I just needed to focus on and set aside time for. That became goal number 2.

Finally, it was time to step up my game in the income department. One or two books, while a huge accomplishment, simply don’t cut it in the revenue department. So I decided to look for contract opportunities, while at the same time working on increasing my passive income through other sources.

Taking a few moments to forget about the mountain of things I needed to do, and really focusing on what I was ultimately trying to achieve was a much better exercise than trying to tackle an endless to-do list, and feeling like I’m not getting anywhere.

With a clear vision, I moved next to listing only the top three priorities for that day. Besides breathing, eating, moving, and constantly drinking coffee, these were the things that absolutely must get done that day. For me, that boils down to writing content, marketing my books, and job-hunting. Every day, I break down each of those major categories into smaller actionable chunks.

What about everything else?

If I don’t write things down right away, I tend to lose track of them. I’m a list lover. My solution is the David Allen Getting Things Done approach: write things down on a list that you will revisit and pull new tasks from.

There’s a whole bunch of brain science behind this, but in a nutshell your brain can relax more knowing your to-do is captured somewhere.

But don’t put it away and forget it! I’m definitely guilty of doing this in the past–there’s still a treasure trove waiting to be discovered in a junk drawer in my house, and trust me–you don’t want to venture into my closet right now. Other than that, this system works! 🙂

Seriously, the whole point of Allen’s system is that you periodically review your to-do list. I call it my BACKLOG list–everything else goes there when things come to mind. Every day, when I review the backlog list, I pull any urgent tasks and add to my top three priorities.

My mind is better off when this system is in place–the worries and anxieties that used to keep me up at night–well, sometimes they still do. But it’s been much better by implementing my stop worrying list.