Checklist Zero and Mind Sweeping

10/28/20192 Min Read — In Productivity

I often jokingly say to my friends, "You need to get your life together." It's weird for me to say that, considering not that long ago my life was most definitely not in order. About a year ago, all within 4 months, I had my first child, started a new job, and bought my first house. The amount of new skills for each of these alone is enough to stress someone out. It took me about a year to get back to where I felt like I myself "had my life together."

One thing I recently achieved and can't stop talking about is how I've reached Checklist Zero. You may have heard of Inbox/Email Zero: when you have zero emails in your inbox. Checklist Zero is when you have nothing on your todo list that you need to do.

Every person I've told this to says either, "How!?", "Whoa. Can you teach me?", or "Don't worry, something else will come up." Of course something else will come up. The thing about being at Checklist Zero is that you do the todos faster than they get added. And I've been at Checklist Zero for weeks.

If this isn't impressive, ask yourself:

  • What do I need to do?
  • How many need-to-dos are there?
  • Do I feel like I forgot anything?
  • Am I staying on top of my mental and physical health?

There were a few strategies that I experimented with, such as using Wunderlist and using a Project Evo. The latter was a huge win for me and I suggest it to all my friends who feel overwhelmed and stressed. After using the Project Evo for awhile, I reached what I thought was Checklist Zero. I had nothing on my list that I could think of. That's when I discovered the Getting Things Done Mind Sweep Trigger List.

After going through the Mind Sweep Trigger List, I had an idea of everything I needed to do. No ideas were lost, but a lot were found. Enough to the point that I went from a relaxed Checklist Zero to needing to take a day off of work to get everything done. But since then I've come back down to Checklist Zero.

Once I had everything written out, the last step was to prioritize it into one of three categories. (1) Need to do (typically legal, home repairs, finance, parenting); (2) Want to do (upgrades, classes, traditions); (3) Nice to do (touch ups, organizing a closet, leisure). I used Workflowy to easily view all the things and kept the "Nice to do" always collapsed. No need to look at it and get stressed.

This morning I went through and did the same Mind Sweep but with a focus on work. What I came up with is:

- Ask the team what skills I should learn and/or what I could improve
- Rank them as "Need to", "Would be good, "Would be nice"
- Ask the team what I do well and should double down on
- Talk to boss about a raise
- Research salaries of remote employees
- What do I need to do to get one?
- Read articles on how to become a 10x developer
- Skills to work on
- Raw SQL
- Docker
- https://dev.to/prashantsengar/discuss-how-to-get-started-with-docker-587d
- Vagrant
- Go
- Advanced CSS
- Project ideas
- CLI
- Research if clothing style matter for remote employees
- Habits to build/change
- Read weekly newsletters every Monday morning
- Build customer empathy
- Tag along for customer training
- Watch FullStory sessions
- Research competitors
- Get list of competitors from boss
- How to stand out amongst peers
- Blog
- Meetups
- Ask boss what I can do

I have been stressing out for weeks that I need to get my professional life together and this solved that.

Prioritized, this looks like:

- Need to do
- Read weekly newsletters every Monday morning
- Ask the team what skills I should learn and/or what I could improve
- Rank them as "Need to", "Would be good, "Would be nice"
- Ask the team what I do well and should double down on
- Talk to boss about a raise
- Research salaries of remote employees
- What do I need to do to get one?
- Skills to work on
- Raw SQL
- Docker
- https://dev.to/prashantsengar/discuss-how-to-get-started-with-docker-587d
- Vagrant
- Go
- Advanced CSS
- Want to do
- Read articles on how to become a 10x developer
- Tag along for customer training
- How to stand out amongst peers
- Blog
- Meetups
- Ask boss for advice
- Nice to do
- Research competitors
- Get list of competitors from Josh
- Create an internal CLI
- Research if clothing style matter for remote employees
- Watch FullStory sessions

With this in place, my stress has been minimized and am no longer overwhelmed. And with the habits I've built of getting things done, all I need is time.

Recall

Recall is one of the best ways to optimize learning.

  1. What is Inbox/Email Zero?
  2. What is Checklist Zero?
  3. What are three categories for prioritizing your todos?
  4. What is the strategy for brainstorming todos from Getting Things Done ?

Discuss on Twitter