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Between your job, your friends, your hobbies, your family, and pretty much everything else you want to get done, achieving your fitness goals and nailing your workouts is often harder than it should be. Simply creating an effective to-do list can be a major key to staying on track.
I know for some of you reading the words “to-do list” makes your eyes roll but it doesn’t have to be like that. To help you get your started, I am going to tell you my recipe for success.
3 Ingredients in an Effective To-Do List
- Use a note-taking app that syncs.
- Have a to-do list for today, tomorrow, and even into next week.
- Include things you enjoy doing!
Let’s dive deeper into each ingredient.
Use a Note-taking App That Syncs
I use the Notes app that comes preinstalled on all Apple devices. It is simple, clean and most importantly it syncs across all my devices. Yeah, I am one of those guys who has an iPhone, iPad, iMac, and a MacBook Pro. Hey! What can I say? I work in digital media.
The reason syncing across all devices is important is twofold. I find my stress level is much lower if I can add an item to my to-do list at the moment I think of it (even if it is the middle of the night) and I also like to be able to knock things off the list as soon as they are complete—and then check what awesome task is up next.
Have a To-Do List for Today, Tomorrow, and Beyond
I have a to-do list for today, tomorrow, and all the way into next week. This stops me from creating one single never ending list-of-crap that needs to get done… eventually. Instead, I create a strategic, day-by-day list of what needs to get done, when it needs to get done, on the day that suits it the best.
Yes, the weekends do get included on my to-do list as well but generally I try to limit it to items like “open water swim” and “call mom” or “bike with Ellie” or occasionally “finish the %$&* blog post.”
It isn’t just a dreaded list of jobs that I need to get done, it’s also a fun list of awesome things I am going to do.
Include Things You Enjoy
The final ingredient in my to-do list recipe is that I add pretty much everything I need or want to do on that day. This way it isn’t just a dreaded list of jobs that I need to get done, it’s also a fun list of awesome things I am going to do and also some tasks that I am somewhat ambivalent about.
For example, my to-do list for today:
- Respond to email & social media comments.
- Take salmon out of the freezer for dinner.
- Go the gym – 9:00 am.
- Review skywalkerfitness.ca athlete’s workout data.
- Coaching call with Jessica – 2:00 pm.
- Finish creating week 14 of weightless.me.
- Write the outline of “To-do List” blog post.
- Watch replay of the Montreal Triathlon.
- No food after 7:00 pm.
- Do homework (I am learning Spanish).
By including things like watching a triathlon or reminding myself that I want to do a short fast (by not eating between dinner tonight and lunch tomorrow) I have my chores, my work, my play, and my goals all in one easy to find spot.
When I see “go to the gym” every single time I look at my to-do list, it increases my resolve to make it happen.
By including daily wellness goals on my to-do list, I find my ability to achieve them skyrockets. When I see “go to the gym” or “no food after dinner” every single time I look at my to-do list during a day or a week, it incrementally increases my resolve to make those things happen.
An interesting thing that happens when you write your to-do list is something that takes a little bit of mindfulness. If I add an item to my to-do list and it makes my stomach clench, I take that as a reason to pause and evaluate why exactly I am doing that particular activity. Of course, if it is “do taxes” there is not much I can do about that but if “5-mile run” makes me tense up, I need to think about that. Why am I dreading a run? What aspect of that run is not striking me as enjoyable? And most importantly, what could I do instead of that run that would not make my stomach clench (there are so many ways to get fit in the world, why would I do something that I don’t enjoy?) This is a small but meaningful added bonus of using your to-do list not only as a way to organize your day, ensure you fit your workouts in, but to also evaluate what you are doing, why you are doing it, and what you potentially could be doing instead.
All of this together is why I am a lifelong “to-do lister” who hasn’t missed a workout (without a really good reason) in a very, very long time.