I’m about to show you how you can turn a simple 3-point list into your most effective self-care strategy. Personally, lists are a long-standing tradition for the women in my family. I learned how to make to-do lists from my mom when I was very young. She was a teacher and a busy mom of three with a husband who often worked the night shift. My mom was obsessive about her lists. She would write them, cross each item off with precision and intention, and rip them into pieces after finishing the work.
The 3-point List
My hack: Pick 3 things you absolutely need to get done that day. Then, focus your attention on one point at a time. After your 3-point list is done, you can work on whatever you like. This simple approach helps me stay on track, tick off my most pressing items, and still have time to be creative and find time for me. While they’re not my only tools for staying on track at work, I still use them. I’ve adapted the method into a simple daily 3-point checklist. I choose my three top priorities for the day. I repeat the process the next morning. While 3 points might not seem like a lot of work, by the end of the week, the 15 items I’ve checked off help me feel like I’ve accomplished a lot!
I find this strategy especially useful when I have a lot on my plate and start to feel overwhelmed. I’ve read articles that discourage using to-do lists and say they don’t work. My response to this is that your list is probably too big. Be intentional with the 3 items you choose to tackle. This doesn’t mean you’re not going to do other things in your day. I see it more as a form of self care.
To read more about creating your morning rituals, click here.
To-do Lists Are a Form of Self-Care
Learning how to prioritize the items on your list is a skill. Instead of continuously adding to the list and procrastinating, choosing 3 items will help you feel more productive (and has the added benefit of actually helping you get a few things done. So, choose the most important and actionable items on there. This simple system has helped me get through three post-secondary degrees and manage multiple client contracts simultaneously. My personal motto is: If it works, don’t mess with perfection or try to reinvent the wheel with overly complicated systems.
Self-care is about putting strategies in place for those moments when you’re having trouble keeping it together or keeping up with the volume of things you need to get done. It’s the gas tank you fill up before you leave for that long road trip. Self-care is prevention. It can help you maintain focus and manage your stress when things get busy.
Like any advice out there, you have to ask yourself: will this work for me? My answer is that you can adapt this strategy to any area of your life. Having trouble implementing self-care into your day? Not sure how to keep up with daily exercise? Have a side project that you never have time for? You can create thematic short lists as a way of putting aside a part of your day for these goals.
Here’s my 3-point self-care daily morning checklist. I never start my day off without first doing these three things. I don’t get paid for them, but they keep me feeling balanced, focused, and mentally strong.
Benefits of Using A 3-Point List
My 3-point lists have helped me stay productive during some of the most stressful times in my life. I use work lists to get back on track when I’ve been procrastinating on a certain project, I take out my 3-point list and tick off one activity at a time to get through the day. I usually find that after my three items are finished, I’ve managed to get some momentum back and feel more motivated to keep going. I’ve read that lists are a way of procrastinating, but I don’t agree. For me, lists are a way of breaking out of that. There’s something about writing the items down on paper with my own hand that makes the exercise more intentional for me.
If you’re interested in learning about the benefits of writing with a pen, check out this interesting blog post from paperontherocks.com. Aside from the obvious fact that you’ll avoid online distractions like your Instagram feed or that family Whatsapp group conversation about Aunt Laura’s 50th birthday party, studies have shown that students who write notes with a pen and paper are able to digest information as though they were listening, filtering out less important things and retaining only the key information they need.
There’s also evidence that handwriting allows us to express our feelings. Getting in touch with how you’re feeling about the work you’ve set for yourself can help you reflect on how you feel about the things you’re investing your time in. If you’re writing a list of activities you’ve been dreading, maybe it’s time to rethink where what projects focusing your energy on. Writing by hand can also be a meditative practice. It focuses the mind on one task at hand and helps you clarify the ideas in your mind.
If you’re interested in receiving in-depth advice on how to add self-care into your daily life, your can sign up for my self-study course here.
Copyright Michelle Thompson 2022.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
My name is Michelle. I have over twenty years of experience as a group facilitator, zen meditator, and public educator. I help people re-imagine their lives and create concrete plans for self-improvement. I’ve facilitated loads of workshops and support groups on topics like stress management, mental health and wellness, goal setting, grief counselling, safety planning, and confidence building. I create self-study courses to help you learn to practice self-care and master your self-doubt. I’m a former social worker and non-profit consultant, and after struggling for years with my own feelings of anxiety, low self-worth and uncertainty about who I was and what I wanted, I did the work. What I learned helped me get out of my own way and create a life that allows me to be myself and feel happy. Now I teach others to do the same. I created Authentic World Inc, to offer a supportive space for people who want to learn these important skills.
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