Rule of 5

I love lists; grocery lists, bucket lists, to-do lists, why-we-should-never-date-again lists—the list goes on. I function better when I put things down on paper, in point form and break down my ideas, goals and tasks—my brain is a cluster*!$% of random thoughts, observations, what I have to get done in the short (and long) term and a million other things; combine that with some OCD and ADD and you can paint a nice little picture of how chaotic it gets upstairs.

I’ve been using lists for years and I swear by them. Most nights I will email myself a list of things that need to get done the next day so when I wake up I don’t have to think about what to do, I just do. The problem with lists though is that with all the different ones we create it can get a little hectic—if you’ve got 10 things to do, 12 things to buy and 15 people to contact…suddenly your life is back to chaos! So I created what I call the Rule of 5 to help reduce stress/anxiety and increase productivity.

The Rule of 5 is as simple as it sounds; make a list of 5 things you’d like to achieve in your life and keep it at that—I know it’s hard to narrow down goals but you’ve got to do this in order to de-clutter your mind. Once you do that and relieve some self-inflicted pressure, it’s time to use the Rule of 5 for every list:

5 people you absolutely must contact today

5 tasks that 100% need to be completed

5 books you’ll read by the end of summer

5 new people to meet this month


Once you finish your list of 5, make another list of 5—OR, when you cross off something on your list add another point to the bottom to make it 5 again. The trick is to not have more than 3 short-term lists at a time, so at any given moment you do not have more than 15 things you have to buy, tasks you have to complete, emails you have to send out, so on and so forth.

Try it! It works. It’s easy and you won’t feel overwhelmed. I’ve even applied it to grocery shopping.