Maxwell Maltz was a plastic surgeon in the 1950s and noticed that it took about 21 days for his patients to become accustomed to their new physical situation after surgery. This inspired him to look at how this concept could be applied to new behaviors and found that if he could maintain a consistent habit for 21 days, it would become natural behavior.
I had gotten to a point where I was feeling overwhelmed with the day to day tasks that are needed to be a functioning adult, and allow myself to get all of the things done while also keeping my long-term goals in mind. I needed a better way to organize my thoughts.
Three weeks ago I began writing things down in a notebook. My roommate, Grant, had told me about a concept his boss had told him, where you take some time in the morning to write down the things that you need to get done that day, and the things that you want to get done that day. I loved the idea of being able to separate the things that are essential while also having a visual reminder of the things that I wanted to get done that day. For me, it’s encouraging to get the things I need to get done faster so that I can start to knock off things that I want to get done that day, and keeps track of my to-do list so that I don’t have to actively think about it.
I took this concept and built on it by structuring a page of my notebook to keep all the information that I need to clear my head of thoughts that can live on a piece of paper.
The page starts with what I am grateful for that morning. Taking a moment to acknowledge even a small thing that I appreciate allows me to put everything in perspective, that even though there are stresses of everyday life, I cannot forget about the things that I can get happy about. It has really helped me recognize situations that don’t need to ruin my day and maintain a good mood even when things aren’t going as planned.
Right below, is where the business section starts. This part is where I figure out what I need to get done that day, and then what I want to get done as soon as I can. Taking a moment to sort through my mind, and brainstorm what needs to get done, and sort through what I want to get done saves me time throughout the day. The extra time comes because when I have it all laid out, I don’t have to sift through my thoughts to figure out what needs to happen, and what is the most important tasks that need to be addressed first. Not only does it save me time, but it just gives me more confidence throughout the day that I am not forgetting about things that need to get done, and I am taking care of things in the proper order of importance.
I finish the page with long-term goals that I want to keep in mind. Making sure that I am writing down my long-term goals every day reminds myself that there are things that I am working towards that I can’t cross off in a day, but need work towards gradually over time. Being able to remind myself of these things every day forces me to consider what I want in the long term when I am making short-term decisions, and that has been incredibly valuable to me over the last 3 weeks.
I also use the back of the page to jot down any ideas I have throughout the day. It isn’t something that I utilize every time something pops into my head, but I can get lost in my own head exploring an idea, and writing an elaborate idea allows me to stop thinking and get back to what I need to get done.
I am still figuring out some of the processes of how much I need to write down to keep myself organized and accountable, but also being realistic and honest with myself so that I am not anticipating being able to accomplish more things in a day than physically possible, and getting discouraged when I haven’t crossed off as many things in the day as I wrote down. This will take time and practice, but it is important for me to recognize that being great at anything takes practice, including a to-do list.
The bigger picture for me is writing things down has freed space in my brain to focus less on organizing and remembering what I need to get done and spend more time on thinking how I can get them done. Having things written down takes away the accountability of my brain to hold on to all of my day to day tasks, and frees up cognitive power to make sure that I can spend my time thinking about things that I can do, and how they will get done, rather than just trying to remember what needs to get done that day. It will take refinement to make this system as effective for me as possible, but I have created a habit that will increase my overall productivity & happiness and will help me stay focused on my long-term goals when it is really easy to overlook.
Another benefit is it has really improved my overall writing, which helps me structure stories, structure thoughts, and improves my ability to express and articulate my thoughts in an effective way that I wasn’t able to before I started writing things down consistently. This new habit has driven me to want to start writing a blog, to help myself get even better at writing & telling stories, as well as giving a little more background into what drives me and my business, and the struggles that I have faced and am facing to give comfort and guidance to others that may face similar situations.
I think I am going to aim to send one out every week, but really no guarantees.