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Monday, February 28, 2011

Monday Morning Check In: Useful Tools

I apologize for being late for my Monday Morning Check in, but I haven't been feeling well this past weekend, and I woke up with a fever today. It was a hectic weekend, because the Artisan Quartet performed its opening concerts of its Beethoven cycle. We had standing ovations both nights, and we were delighted to see some folks attend both concerts! Thanks to everyone for making this opening concert in the "Genius at Play" Beethoven series a success!

We know how much I like to use my Mondays as a way to check in with myself to see if I need any course corrections on the pathway to my goals for the year. I've had several different things running around in my brain, so I'll share all of them with you. You yourself might like to try one or all of these ideas for yourself. Let me know what discoveries or thoughts you experience.

Productivity Sheets

I have used my productivity sheets daily (last week's Monday Morning topic), and they are very helpful for reminding me of things that I need to accomplish in a day. When I think of something that I can't accomplish that same day but need to do the next day, I just note those things on the bottom of the page. The sheets are also wonderful for keeping me from getting sucked into the email black hole. I have approached my email box only for the purpose of reaching out to someone on my list or looking for an answer from someone I am expecting to hear back from. Email processing in general is then left for a later time when I actually have time to deal with the requests of others, which is after my own stuff has been accomplished. That's the way it's supposed to work, I remind myself again and again.

I have found it helpful to keep filling out the upper part of the productivity sheet as well, which is a way of reminding myself of steps that I could take to move my three major current projects forward. Even if I'm incredibly busy or sick, as I was this past week, it still keeps these projects in the forefront of my mind. By keeping these items and the possible steps I can take to make progress visible to me daily, I am also keeping my imagination and creativity alive. I make myself aware daily of things that might become part of these projects. I notice or think of possible steps that I could take to make things move forward.

So the productivity pages have been very helpful this past week. Other tools I have used successfully include Morning Pages, Best Year Yet Questions and Personal Guidelines, and Anti-Procrastination Items.

Morning Pages

If you are a fan of Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way, then you are already familiar with her "morning pages" or "brain drain," as I like to call them. This technique is the writing of three longhand pages every morning. I have found this task to be an emotionally satisfying one. I use a regular composition book. I put the date at the top of the page, and then I start scribbling away until I have done three pages. If I'm stuck, I just write quickly and use stream of consciousness. It's amazing how much stuff is stuck up in my head and needs resolution. This is a private affair, so I write freely. Sometimes I use it to plan things for the future. I often get inspiring ideas about future projects or blog posts. I might use it to resolve an emotional issue in my life. I frequently write out favorite quotes or interesting passages I have read. I highly recommend you give this technique a try. Just get a journal or copy book and start writing each morning until you have completed three longhand pages.

Best Year Yet Questions and 3 Lessons for Personal Guidelines

At the end of 2010 and beginning of 2011, I discussed Jinny S. Ditzler's book Your Best Year Yet! This past week I have spent some time (in my morning pages) writing some in depth answers to three of her questions:

(1) What did I accomplish last year?
(2) What were my biggest disappointments?
(3) What did I learn?

Then I took a closer look at what I had written, especially my disappointments and what I learned, and I came up with three lessons. I wrote out these three lessons as personal guidelines to follow for next year. As I reviewed my disappointments, I saw that I was able to come up with three personal guidelines that would cover all the things that were on my list. I plan on reviewing my personal guidelines several times a week.

Anti-Procrastination Items

We all have issues with procrastination. There are things in our lives that we just don't derive enough pleasure from in order to complete them, so they just clutter up our lives. Sometimes the best way to rid ourselves of this kind of mental clutter is to declare a war in some fashion. If you are a fan of, then you are familiar with her Anti-Procrastination Days. These are days when Flylady suggests we tackle those items on our procrastination list and take care of them. Taking care of procrastination items is just another ability that we can develop. Just like a muscle needs increasing weight in order to get stronger, so we should exercise our anti-procrastination muscles. I started out by putting two items on my daily to-do list which I have been putting off. After I completed those two items, I then declared war on four more items the next day. I will admit that it was not easy to do this, but I certainly felt a lot better when I crossed those items off my list!

I would love to read your comments and thoughts about the topics I post. So many people read the blog from all over the world (over 1700 readers from 40 countries!). It would be amazing to have a discussion going about the topics we are interested in. Let me hear back from you!

I hope your week goes well.

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