Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Self-Management: Daily Tools for a Scattered Mind

This post includes my two favorite tools for daily self-management and self-organization.

I greatly benefit from the act of physical writing and actively thinking through my schedule, needs, goals, etc.. Most people benefit from these acts. Behavioral research supports that writing down plans not only helps us better outline and commit to goals, but it also greatly increases the probability of meeting those goals. Establishing implementation intentions (when, how, where, etc.) of our plans has a significant effect on whether we meet the goals we have, big or small (Gollwitzer, 1993; Gollwitzer & Sheeran, 2006; Scholz et al., 2007; Stizmann & Johnson, 2012; Rogers et al., 2015) . It helps us to prioritize and follow through!

My Shared Resources:

I've linked my two favorite, "general", original daily printouts for managing my scatterbrain-self. They're 100% free and available for anyone who would like to try them. They're not specific to any individual needs, just general categories. Please also feel free to share your own favorite tools, and/or critiques on those I've made. 

Because this topic is one of a rather critical and personal meaning, I'm also linking the article that addresses my background for how and why I spend time learning, testing, and customizing many routines, tools, and resources for myself. I wanted to be blunt and sincere in my assessments of how critical such tools are. And to do so, that required me to share a bit about myself. (see: Self-Management of a Scattered Mind).  

For those curious, I hope you find the linked post interesting and informative. For those less inclined, please still feel free to scroll down to the linked PDFs of my favorite "general" self-management tools. They are currently stored on my google drive, though I will be changing this soon to help assure readers that they are PDFs, not random looking google drive addresses. I have full page and half page versions, for regular (A4) and small (A5) binders. I really like a little planner I got cheap from amazon, and will link it here. But I'd also love for any readers to share their own favorites!

Full Size Print Outs:
  1. Daily To-Do 
  2. Daily Schedule
Half Size Print Outs:
  1. Daily To-Do (TBD)
  2. Daily Schedule (TBD)
Half Size Print Out (Same Page):
  1. Daily To-Do & Daily Schedule

I'm also including a guide of how I use these printouts, but my guidelines may not be your guidelines :). Please give it a read if you're curious about the categories/how I use them, and consider whether you might find them helpful.

The Daily Organizational Print Outs and Categories are:
  1. Today's To-Do's
    1. PrioritiesThe most critical items that, should you accomplish nothing else, need to be done. Helps to assess what is most important and what demands the most resources. Also helps to put the lesser things in perspective!
    2. Today's GoalsWhat you want out of the day. Do you want to aim to give more compliments? Be more positive? Drive more safely? Keep up with your scheduled time? Do something artistic? Take criticism gracefully? Do well on a presentation? What are the things you want out of the day.
    3. Task List: Write down all the tasks/items that you need to get done for the day. Sometimes you can check them all off, sometimes you might have to move some to the next day. But it helps to have a list of what you need done. Add check boxes to every item, so you can cross that sucker off when it's done!
    4. Good Things: Yes, I practice Cognitive Behavioral approaches (CBT) and will always preach that we need to practice acknowledging the good things about our days. We notice bad stuff because it is upsetting and alarming. It takes practice to notice the good things as easily. So, write what's good about your day, what good thoughts you've had, what good things you think you can make happen. Maybe at the end of the day, write down the best things that happened. Make a record.
    5. Exercise: writing down goals and recording actual execution of exercise is a valuable way to not only encourage more activity and healthy living, but it helps you to have a record to track progress. Focusing on improvements, not fixed achievements, helps to foster a healthy and positive attitude towards healthier living. Tracking makes it easier to focus on those changes and improvements, rather than a fixed, non-individual measure of 'fit'. Even if you only manage to walk a mile every other day, that is 150+ miles every year, that you might not have walked otherwise. Track it!
    6. Date/Word: The day date and a newly learned word. This can be a new native tongue word (expanding vocabulary!) or a word for a foreign language. I enjoy working on both!
  2. Daily Schedule
    1. ScheduleList the hour-by-hour plan for the day. I like to have each hour listed, except for early morning and late evening. Before 7 am usually involves a fixed pattern of morning rituals, which I can easily list in that line for 'Morning'. Same for 'Evening'. But for every other time, I like to list my plans for the day, preferable the day before. It helps me know what I should aim to do, helps me better understand how I am using my time, and helps me make more realistic estimates for how long something should take. Overall, an hourly schedule helps me use my day more effectively!
    2. Assignments: I like to avoid categories like 'work/school/home', because I often have assignments for all three! I also don't like feeling like one is more important than the other. I list these separately from tasks, because most of my assignments are broken down into daily increments of finishing. By writing current assignments, you can better assign time to complete those increments in your schedule, and can even list the parts of those assignments in the task list of the ToDo Printout. It helps to know what are general 'on the docket' requirements, so you can include them in your planning.
    3. Success?: Again, I like CBT. I think it's important to practice positive thinking, in a way that is realistic and acknowledges what we do well. My assignments, task lists, schedule, etc., are often very full. So I like to write down things that I did particularly well, achieved, or went above and beyond. I like to celebrate my successes, and appreciate where I excel. That's what this box is for.
    4. Notes: Every day, I have odd little add-ons of varying importance, that end up on scrapped papers/receipts/etc., which may do better in a neat little note box. Numbers, grocery items, reminders, etc., all go in here. That way, I can look through my week and have a ready-made collection of important tidbits all in one place!
    5. Date/TIL: the day's date, and something newly learned. Go to a random TIL website or just note something interesting you learned. Writing down a name for what you've learned will help it stick in your mind!

References:

  • Gollwitzer, P. M. (1993). Goal achievement: The role of intentions. European review of social psychology, 4(1), 141-185.
  • Gollwitzer, P. M., & Sheeran, P. (2006). Implementation intentions and goal achievement: A metaanalysis of effects and processes. Advances in experimental social psychology, 38, 69-119.
  • Rogers, T., Milkman, K. L., John, L. K., & Norton, M. I. (2015). Beyond good intentions: Prompting people to make plans improves follow-through on important tasks. Behavioral Science & Policy, 1(2), 33-41.
  • Scholz, U., Sniehotta, F. F., Schüz, B., & Oeberst, A. (2007). Dynamics in SelfRegulation: Plan Execution SelfEfficacy and Mastery of Action Plans. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 37(11), 2706-2725.
  • Sitzmann, T., & Johnson, S. K. (2012). The best laid plans: Examining the conditions under which a planning intervention improves learning and reduces attrition. Journal of Applied Psychology, 97(5), 967.

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Contact me at bedhead@bedriddenhead.com

About The BedRiddenHead

I want to be happy. And this site is about that chance. How to strive to thrive in the body I've got and maybe turn my experiences into something worthwhile.

This site aims to help educate and reach out to people all over that struggle with pain or illness. To try and make something helpful. I work as a medical research writer, my background is in neuropsychology and biology, and I want to share what I learn in a way that is easy to understand. I am not a doctor. I'm definitely not your doctor. I am just some lady who wants to make someone's (anyone's) life a little bit better. Whether you have endometriosis, a chronic injury, a struggling friend, or just want to learn something new, I hope to make a place that has what you are looking for.

Thank you for stopping by, I wish you strength in your health and happiness.