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  • Diana Schneidman

My favorite time—and life—management technique

You know, if you’re the kind of person who sets daily goals, eventually (after like maybe day one or day two) you’ll have a day when you fail to reach your goal.

Then you face the big question: Are you going to add today’s shortfall to tomorrow’s quota or are you going to start fresh tomorrow?

I always start fresh tomorrow and advise you to do the same.

After all, there’s a reason you missed your goal today. Maybe other tasks were higher priority. Or you didn’t feel well. Or you simply weren’t in the mood.

It is plenty just to overcome these obstacles sufficiently to handle tomorrow’s list without piling on more work left over from today. And if these tasks keep adding up, you’ll get to the point where you dread getting out of bed the next morning.

During my life, I’ve done all sorts of things with an everyday kind of goal. Like vocabulary development and acne treatment routines in my teens. Sit-ups in my twenties. Packing lunches the night before in my thirties and even forties. Currently it’s sorting through my mail and miscellaneous paper pile as well as working on blog entries such as this one. Or reciting affirmations.

I live by the Flylady philosophy (Marla Cilley’s great system for getting stuff done around the house and in life in general). Start where you are. You are not behind.

Julia Cameron in The Artist’s Way recommends three pages of free writing each morning to stimulate creativity and conquer writer’s block. Natalie Goldberg in one of her books recommends writing a certain number of pages (30?) each month.

In effect, Natalie gives us permission to procrastinate for weeks and then start writing like crazy on the 27th. Julia’s way requires more writing but is easier to accomplish, especially if you allow any daily shortfalls to vanish from memory.

So what doesn’t get done today, just let it stay undone. Start fresh tomorrow. As Scarlett O’Hara said, “Tomorrow is another day.”

Let tomorrow truly be a new day, not today’s make-up day.

Originally posted 4-19-09


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