Not worrying when you should be having fun

I'm a worrier, always have been, always will be. I always want to do the best job I can I worry that I won't I worry I've forgotten something, am going to let someone down or worst of all a niggling feeling of something not being right.

Over the years I've developed a number of ways to help deal with the worries – ways to limit my worrying to 9 - 5.

They work for me and maybe they might just work for you. Now let me get this out of the way first, I’m not talking productivity here, I’m not talking ninja super skills to get more stuff done. What I am talking about is just not worrying about getting stuff done. The doing of it, well that’s up to you.

Reviewing all the loose ends

At work I probably have upwards of 10 projects on the go at any one time and probably twice that number of future projects I’m hoping to do. That’s an awful lot of things to worry about. What I try and do is limit my ‘oh my god I’ve go so many things to do’ time to just before I get into the office and just before I leave, oh, and one big worry session on a Friday morning.

I base my approach on the Getting Things Done system.

To focus my thoughts on projects I have 5 lists, I know what you are saying now, bet the words ‘anal’ ‘loser’ and ‘obsessive’ are going through your head. Five lists to help me stop worrying, I’m no loser. Anyway, the five lists. I have a daily ‘Open’ list, a daily ‘Close’ list, a ‘Projects’ list, an ‘Everything else I need to do’ list and a ‘Weekly review’ list.

Ending the day right

I find if I can tie up all my loose ends at the end of the day my mind doesn’t feel like it needs to worry, I put the worry off until the next day when I’m paid to worry.
So before I leave for the day, I used to do this on the train home, but lucky me, I have no commute anymore, I review the following, my ‘Close’ list: .

  1. Today’s actions (noting those annoying things I haven’t managed to get done)
  2. Tomorrow’s actions (I keep a tally of things to do each day)
  3. Today’s meeting notes and think about people I’ve met today to capture actions
  4. Glance at ‘Projects list’
  5. Glance at ‘Everything else to do list’
  6. Tomorrow’s calendar
  7. The day after tomorrow’s calendar

From that list I write down all the things I need to do tomorrow. Anything that doesn’t need doing tomorrow goes on my ‘Everything else to do’ list. Any new projects, they go on my ‘Projects list.’ Easy. Worrying differed until tomorrow, no loose ends.

A picture of my diary with a list of things I need to do for that day

All my actions for the next day, ready for when I come in the next morning

Starting the next day

The ‘Open’ list I normally look over at breakfast (when in Bristol I love Lashings to do this over tea and toast with Marmite). Here’s the contents of my list:

  1. Today’s actions (all carefully listed last night)
  2. Today’s calendar
  3. Tomorrow’s calendar
  4. Glance at ‘Projects list’
  5. Glance at ‘Everything else to do list’

From this I update my list of todos for the day. This really only takes me a couple of minutes.

Weekly cleanse

Every week I spend a good hour or so going through the loose ends in my head. I have list to help jog my memory, my ‘Weekly review’ list. It includes all possible places where the stuff I need to do might be located. From texts in my phone to twitter DMs to who knows what. Using this list I put together stuff I need to do for next week against each day and all the other stuff on to my ‘Everything else to do list’

Here’s my Weekly review checklist to give you an idea where stuff lands in my world.

So there we have it, 5 lists to stop worrying. It works for me, hopefully it will for you too.

Do you have any tips to stop the worry and keep on top of stuff?

Also published on Medium.

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