The Rule of 5

Are you trying to stay productive by keeping a to-do list? (Join the club.)

Do you have an app that helps you keep track of it? (We meet every week.)

How successful are you in checking off each task on your to-do list? Be honest. (No, unfortunately there is no club but we could start one.)

If you are like me, smart phone apps like Wunderlist that help organize your to-do lists are amazing! I like how it can by synced through the cloud of technology from my smart phone to my computer with ease. The relationship we share is quite simple. I finish a variety of tasks; I add more things I need to get done; I repeat as necessary. Unfortunately, the cycle never ends which leaves me feeling unaccomplished. On a good day–I’ll check off about seven to nine tasks off my to-do list. By night fall, I add more tasks to it to remind myself of what I need to do tomorrow. This tedious and unrewarding system made me seek an alternative way that is more satisfying. Please do not get me wrong, I am happy with apps like Wunderlist and hard copy to-do lists, but I need fulfillment in my life knowing I made a dent in my world of endless tasks.

Currently, this is what my Wunderlist looks like:

This may not seem over whelming to some, but for me it is more than I can handle from one day after another! When I started searching for an easier method, I sat at my desk tapping on a stack of yellow sticky notes. You have seen them and have probably wrote down some quick notes on them. I use them daily to write notes and transfer them to the always-faithful Wunderlist.

Instead of transferring all my tasks and agendas to Wunderlist and leaving them there, why not rank them on a day-to-day basis? If I take the top five things that are a priority for a given day, I am sure to finish them and the rest can wait. You might be asking yourself, how this is different from the tedious cycle as before? Well, according to “The Rule of 5” it is setting yourself up for an achievable goal that is within your reach. When you have this mindset, you can finish your list of five tasks for the day. And you are more likely to get them done than a longer list.

Still don’t believe me? Try it or read some other examples of “The Rule of 5”.

If you want to start using this method today, here are some helpful tips:

  • Use a solid color sticky note such as yellow. The color yellow helps you remember what you wrote down.
  • When you get used to a solid color, reward yourself with a different color, style, design.
  • Keep your list to five to follow “The Rule of 5” and to reap the full benefits.
  • If you do not finish everything on your list, it is ok! Add them to the top of tomorrow’s list.
  • If you finish everything on your list, prepare tomorrow’s list before tomorrow gets here by being one step ahead.

What are you some helpful tools you use to stay productive?

Write With A Purpose

I graduate today and the reality of it all hasn’t set in quite yet. Maybe it’ll sink in after I put on the infamous cap, gown, and tassel. Speaking¬† of tassel… (slight panic) … whew! I had thought I lost it, but I found it after looking in two or three places. I was going to write on my predicted topic of “Which Tazo Tea is Supreme?” but I found myself unsure how to make it different from the other posts. On the Dr. Oz’s show he had a segment about tea and the health benefits. If you missed it, you can catch it online here. After the segment on Dr. Oz, I found myself inspired by wanting to research more about the topic. Instead of pushing through another post, I want to urge you to write with a purpose.

Allow Your Topic To Evolve

I will say it again, allow your topic to evolve. I wrote out a “game plan” when I started blogging about teas and after watching the Dr. Oz’s show, I wanted to research more. I’m surprised I didn’t research more in the beginning like I normally would, but I wanted to have fun with “The Starbucks Experiment”. If you find a mainstream thought or topic–make it your own. Explore through a flow chart of the many ways you could write on the subject. This could start your creative process. If you do all this and then come back to it again, maybe you will gain a new perspective that you didn’t get before. Unless you have thoroughly thought out your topic, the direction you will write it out in can evolve right before your eyes as you type it out. It has even happened to me. I was thankful I let my creativity flow instead of my brain tell my fingers to stop. If you break the cycle of a topic evolving, you might miss out on a chance to produce something great.

Why Are You Writing?

Ask yourself that question. Go ahead. Do it. I do this quite often and it reminds me that I am writing with a purpose to¬† help people. I am passionate about those two things, so it comes easy to me to encourage others in various topics and degrees. What are you passionate about? Do you think you could share that passion through writing or other forms of expression? (Writing is just one way to get your voice out there.) I have participated in webinars for blogging and some suggest to mix up your style while others say consistency is key. I agree with both as long as you don’t lost sight of the reason you decided to start in the first place. If you write as a career or hobby, pretend an imaginary train is telling you, “I know I can, I know I can” as you write day in and day out. If you are a robot and produce great content in a drop of a dime, then you are better than I am. Are you writing to entertain people and find yourself not feeling it? Go watch a comedy and be inspired again! Maybe you started writing to get all your thoughts and emotions out, but haven’t found time to continue with it. I can assure you an hour or less a day writing is therapeutic. My creative process to stay inspired is always a work in progress because the lists of topics I want to write about keeps growing.

What is Your Creative Process?

I keep mentioning my creative process, but let me explain more. There’s an application called Wunderlist and you can download it for FREE on your desktop or your smart phone. The application is synced through “the cloud” without any contracts with Apple or Android. If you have it on both the computer and phone, it is amazing to have both updated! I have a lot of things on my mind and creativity never sleeps, so I plug them into the application to get them off my mind and saved for a later time. In my opinion, the coolest feature is setting deadlines for when things are due. I had over 20 tasks due today, but now I have 11 left to finish. Deadlines motivate me and I am often working under pressure. Explore it and see what you think! Another neat feature is the option to categorize your lists and this is how mine now looks:

As you can see, I have a “blog” list created. These are the topics I will be writing about in the upcoming weeks. Before they get on this list, I start on a broader topic such as the iPhone. I’ll expand on it later with thought map like this:

Once I have enough –> arrows to create a fluid story, I’ll add it to Wunderlist. When it comes to my blog topics I don’t set a deadline for them. It depends on my mood which topic will come out easier. I do this to almost pick-and-choose a topic each time I write.

Follow Others

When you write, I can imagine you are hoping someone out there will read it. If you follow other bloggers, you can follow with an open mind and learn something new. I found a blog on here that writes in cartoons. I have never thought of doing it that way before, but find it interesting to see what she posts next. When you follow someone, you start a relationship with them. Don’t let that scare you because it should encourage you to know they may or may not follow you back. We are humans and we were made to be united with one another. The benefit of following someone is to see different blogging styles. Just like the cartoon entries I look forward to, people are expressing themselves in ways you could try or adopt as a part of your own. I used to write lengthy blog entries because I had a lot to say. When I read another blog post that was a similar length as mine, I found myself not wanting to read the whole thing. Why is that? The writer was informative, but I wanted to scan and look the post over instead of reading it. Through that experience, I have learned to add a few bullet lists, “how-to’s”, and add in visuals to enhance your words. I will be adding video once I explore it some more.

What are some ways you find helpful when writing?