Believe it or not, it’s possible to worry more productively. On this week’s podcast, Ardyn and I dig into one of my favorite productivity tactics for crazy times like these: the worry list.
The name pretty much says it all: a worry list is just a list of what you’re worrying about; problems in your life or the world that are causing you anxiety.
Making the list is straightforward:
1. Capture all of the things that worry you over the span of a day. Just get it all of your head and onto a sheet of paper (or into some digital document, if that’s your preference).
2. Categorize all of your worries into two groups: what you have control over, and what you don’t.
After you’ve captured it all, make a plan to deal with what you have control over. If you can, you can also delegate items on the list—this instantly frees up mental bandwidth for more important things. You can also eliminate worries, by eliminating the underlying commitments or habits that cause them. (One example: if a lot of your worries are fed by constantly checking the news, subscribe to a physical newspaper instead, to get a daily update, instead of an hourly one.) However you can, just make a plan to deal with every worry that’s controllable.
With what’s outside of your control, keep in mind that your mind is predisposed to pay attention to, and worry about anything you perceive to be a threat—throughout the day, recognize when you’re worrying about something, while understanding that some worrying happens subconsciously. Schedule time to worry about these things if you feel the need to, so that they don’t bleed into the rest of your day.
Right now, there’s a lot on our minds to worry about. If you’re anything like me, creating a worry list will help. Especially in overanxious times like these, thought patterns of worry only ever obscure what’s important.