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I’m not a makeup person, but I can’t help but love Mary Kay. Because when you dig into her story, yes, she built a massive makeup brand. But really, she has so much to teach us about how to build an effective list of priorities.
My favorite Mary Kay principle is the Daily Six. Yes, I read her biography, and loved it. I highly recommend it as a good read. I know anyone who knows me in real life finds this highly ironic since pink and makeup are not me at all. Even crazier, I was briefly technically a Mary Kay rep – but that’s a story for another day.
Making the Daily Six list of priorities work for you
The basic gist is that every day you list out the six most important things to get done that day. Work through them one at a a time and don’t work on anything else until you finish that item. For many of us, this isn’t as easy in reality as it is in theory.
As a stay (work) at home mom, I had to adjust a little bit. The idea of solely working on one of my six until they are completed didn’t really work with small children underfoot.
Similarly, in many office settings, it’s not possible to work straight through tasks without interruptions from colleagues and clients.
Here are five tactics I use to make the Daily Six list of priorities work for me both as a work-at-home mom and as a traditional office professional:
1. Do not include routine daily tasks
I have taken the tactic of my six being six non-routine things that I need to do each day. Usually it is errands to run, housecleaning, repetitive work tasks, recurring meetings, etc. I know some people who have “shower and dress” as part of a to-do list (regardless of methodology), but that never makes my list since it isn’t something I struggle with or am in danger of not doing.
2. Do include tasks that are not second nature, or that you want to improve
Occasionally I do list things like reading to my son, but only when I feel I’m not doing a good job at that without it being on my list. For me, exercising is highly likely to not get done without being on a list to cross off, so it is often part of my daily six.
3. Plan ahead and only put tasks on today’s list that truly need to be done today
I’ve alternated between tracking priorities digitally and on paper. When I’m digital, I use Evernote to organize my overall priorities and to do list. When I use a paper planner, I lean toward free-style notebooks ala the Bullet Journal methodology. I have a note for this week’s to-dos with a section specifically for each day, and then a separate list for longer-term to-do’s that aren’t planned for today. This allows me to add everything I think of to the list so my declining brain power doesn’t forget, but also prioritize what should make the top six list of priorities for today.
4. Let the tasks not on today’s Daily Six go
Today was an at-home day. I didn’t fold the laundry, organize the Tupperware cupboard that is driving me crazy, or scrub the toilets because they weren’t on my Daily Six. If I’m feeling totally like an over-achiever, I may do some of those extras tonight, but I can also be guilt-free about not doing them because they weren’t on today’s Daily Six. (The laundry and toilets are definitely on tomorrow’s Daily Six; we’ll see about the Tupperware cupboard.)
5. Recognize that you won’t get all Six done every day.
This last point is huge for my Type-A personality. Becoming a mom has
helped forced me abandon start to let go of my sense of failure when I don’t get everything on my to-do list accomplished. The reality is that there are days where all Six won’t get done. And Mary Kay herself talked about not beating yourself up, but putting the leftover items at the top of tomorrow’s Daily 6 list of priorities and moving forward. Whether it was kiddo-craziness, work emergencies, sheer laziness or just life happening, everything won’t always get done. Tomorrow is a perfect day to hit re-set and start over fresh.
Have you used the Daily Six or another productivity system to build a list of priorities? What struggles or advice do you have regarding productivity, particularly with young kids in the house?