The Piece of Paper Trick

This is a combination of two techniques, that I learnt from Peter Bregman’s book 18 Minutes and Jinny Ditzler’s Best Year Yet. I’ve adapted both to fit the small steps method.

Divide by eight

Take a piece of paper and divide it into eight. Fold it in half long-ways then in half again horizontally, then fold it in half again. Open it up and you’ll be left with a piece of paper with folded lines – eight sections in all.

The bottom left square

The bottom left square is for anything urgent – write in anything that you absolutely must do to keep yourself and your family going, and anything urgent at work. Leave the bottom right square blank for now.

Your roles in life

You have six squares to add the important things you do in life – your roles in life. For example, mum, writer, tutor, choir member, business owner, school reading volunteer. Brainstorm a list. Now prioritise. Come up with the six most important roles. Write them onto the paper in six of the remaining squares. (Write small – you’ve got to fit three actions under each.) You can, if you like, add an aspirational role – if you’d like to run your own business, for example, you can add ‘business owner’ even if you haven’t got up and running yet.

Important, not urgent

Underneath each role, add the three most important things you can do in each of these roles. (Note, these things aren’t the most urgent actions, they’re the most important actions.) Try to make these actions as concrete and specific as possible. So not ‘Spend more time with the kids’ but ‘Take Lucy and Ern to my sister’s place at the weekend.’

The bottom right square

Now you should have one square left – the bottom right. That’s for EVERYTHING ELSE that needs doing. You don’t get any more space! (By the way, you can cheat and do a different piece of paper for work if this is proves impossible.)

Want more?

Find out why taking time off is one of the most productive things you can do.

To your happiness,

Louise xx


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