Just Keep Checking the Boxes

by | Apr 17, 2018

We often hear of people talking about “just checking the boxes.” Some of the tasks in life have to do with basic necessities and people talk about just checking the boxes as if it is a bad thing. I have recently found, especially for myself, that checking the boxes is one way to really get things done.

In the world of electronic media and social interaction through technology, I have rediscovered paper. What I find is that there are too many distractions on my phone and so even the most clever of apps often get me sidetracked to something else, especially as new notifications come in. At the beginning of the new year, I wanted to have a planner that I could custom design. In my younger days, I used the Franklin Covey system of planners and really enjoyed having the paper to check the boxes. What I didn’t like was the big bulky outer cover and notebook. Those things were beefy.

So I wanted to design my own daily planner pages and I did that on New Year’s Eve. My nine-year-old son and I stayed up until about 5 a.m. and he and I rang in the New Year while my wife and babies were sound asleep by about 9:30 p.m.

I decided that I would make a list of all of the roles that I have and create some little reminders and icons that I could look at everyday and have a visual hard copy reminder of the things I need to be doing. This includes whether or not I check my mail, whether or not I drink 8 glasses of water, whether or not I’m checking my pH levels and tracking my food intake.

As part of my monthly goals, I have that I want to call my parents at least twice a month. Now this is where some might be critical of my desire to just check the boxes. The truth is, I forget to call my parents and I want to change that. It’s not that I have anything against speaking with them or that the other duties in my life are more important, they are often simply more urgent.

So here is a little glimpse of my daily planner. I am a creative type and enjoy making things and when it comes to my own productivity and growth, I thought it was time for me to design something that was exactly the way I wanted it to be, with exactly the fonts I like to look at, with exactly the colors and spacing exactly how I want them to be.

My morning ritual consists of writing out some things that I feel gratitude for and the end of my day consists of journaling some inspirational thoughts that I have read throughout the day. You will see boxes where I am checking whether or not I “dressed for success” as well as spaces to write what ideas I have for the future.

So I’m only about four months in, but I am extremely happy with the little system I have created for myself. I bought the TUL system from an office supply store and I love the little disc binding that it has. I did have to buy a $40 hole punch but I highly recommend this if you want to customize your planner pages or any kind of notebook that you may use, because it can be used like a traditional loose leaf notebook but it doesn’t have the bulk of the notebook binding, and it can be opened all the way up like a spiral-bound notebook.

So, yeah I check the boxes! It keeps me focused. What kind of boxes should you be checking off?

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