Years ago – around the time I transitioned to a paper planner – all the self-help and inspirational sites trumpeted the importance of consistency. “Use your planner daily!” they would decry, hoping that over time, users of planners would build their own muscle memory. I made it a point to consistently utilize a planner, and lo and behold, they were correct!
To accompany this strategy, I developed a weekly personal accountability system that would also incorporate four domains for behavior modification. (These are the same as what I encourage each of my adult patients to do.) As a reference, one of my mantras is that I am exceptional, but not the exception, as this blog points out. Attainability is the goal, so simplicity is the means.
Oftentimes when looking into new ways of organizing/scheduling/planning, there are so many options and methods that even narrowing it down and picking one strategy to use is daunting and overwhelming. Keeping things basic helps. If it’s too complicated, it almost defeats the purpose.
Thus, I use the acronym D.O.S.E.: Diet, Organize, Sleep, Exercise. At the end of the week, I rate myself based on how well I feel like I did overall with the strategy using a simple self-feedback system: Smiley Face, Even Face, and Sad Face. 😃 / 😐 / ☹️
The goal is to collate the aggregate data per each domain:
- Diet – Rather than nitpick calories or types of macronutrients, I ask myself “did I eat healthy proportions of fats, carbs, and proteins that make my body and mind strong?” This eliminates all the guilt of a cheat day or obsessing over going over my calorie limit. Since food has a big impact on mental health, a good diet is full of fresh veggies and centered around quality proteins. Keeping this as a clear and very measurable definition is key.
- Organize – Paper planners work wonders, but can become oppressive if you let them. I take a more liberal approach to using my Passion Planner, rather than the prescribed brain-mapping it encourages. I’ve found that the key for me is to always braindump at the end of the day, and then prep in the morning of the next day. Tricky and takes some getting used to, therefore it’s not always easy. But when you stick to it, it really works.
- Sleep – As we mentioned in this blog, the power of quality sleep is incredible. Prioritize it, and focus on consistency and restfulness. Keeping a written monitor of sleep quality, rather than the day-to-day electronic tracking, keeps me from stressing out over sleep duration and quality as defined by an app. If I awoke feeling rested or not is the kicker here.
- Exercise – Because I track my exercise using an external app (MyZone and MindBody), I make a point to schedule exercise on my calendar as “Training.” This sleight-of-hand name change helps me think of HIIT (high intensity interval training) as a regular work module to complete rather than an activity to slog through. Pro tip: attainability multiplies when we make things exciting and fun rather than another chore to check off a list. Remember, simply prioritizing 30-minutes of increased heart rate per day will literally change the life in your veins.
The goal is to remind myself that when I follow these healthful/mindful habits, I can see the results in my productivity. By using a straight-forward weekly Smiley Face system like this, I can tell at a glance how my mood and successes are trending. At the end of each month, I’m able to recall, debrief, and evaluate the trends, and then make plans to adjust for the future. Pretty darn simple, but it absolutely works.
Whether you’re an employee or entrepreneur, we at Simply Psych encourage you to D.O.S.E. yourself to success with simple accountability tools that are fast and free. Visit us at www.simplypsych.com to learn more!
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