Ah, Donkey Kong — that 80’s arcade classic where a gorilla named Donkey Kong rolls barrels at you, trying to save a pixelated princess. Climbing up ladders and jumping to avoid the deadly objects, you gain points plus bonuses for leveling up.
If those barrels are the daily “to do” items that keep coming at us and filling up our schedules, then climbing ladders are the stretch goals that help us to level up to our next plateau of success and achievement.
(Here’s a short humbling demo of me playing Donkey Kong badly! Boy, it’s been a while..)
So, how can you master your “to do” list like a Donkey Kong boss?
Who is Your Princess?
While you have a score to settle with Donkey Kong, that’s not the ultimate objective of the game. It’s to save the princess. Likewise, Luke Skywalker doesn’t start off to destroy the Death Star and save the galaxy. A mysterious message for a beautiful girl in peril sets him off on his quest.
Before writing down your “to do” list, get clear on your “why.” Before tackling today’s stream of barrels, “begin with the end in mind,” as Stephen Covey reminds us.
Is it your family? Or wanting to travel? Or just to have time and money for a hobby you enjoy? What is your “why” at the end of your day for jumping those barrels in your life?
Choose Your Level Ups
While your ultimate goal is to save the princess — write a book, shoot a film, launch a new album, what does that next level actually look like for you?
Maybe it’s building your team of virtual assistants and strategic partners. Or maybe it’s finally recording a new video for your YouTube channel. The important thing is not only to get the day-to-day stuff done, but also to decide what the in-between stages are to your BIG goal.
Learn Your Patterns
Are there predictable ways that your daily barrels come rolling down? If we pay attention to how outside hurdles tend to enter our attention and balance them with our own inner cycles of energy and focus, we can choose the best times to tackle them.
I realize how much this helps me to be at my most productive. There was a time where I had to struggle to stay awake through meetings where I wanted to jab a fork in my eye to end the droning boredom.
Rather than fighting my body and energy, I work with my patterns. Granted I have a lot more control of my schedule. But more importantly, I’d rather work ’til 1 or 2 am, when I’m in flow, than force myself to work at those less productive hours. Meanwhile, I try to eat a balance of foods and get in some exercise, so I don’t have that afternoon crash.
Anticipate the Jumps
The more you learn the patterns of your energy and match it up to your workload, the better you can know when you’ll need those extra bursts of effort. Besides making things a lot easier, you won’t have to do some crazy jumping pattern.
One of my favorite sayings from aviation is how “a superior pilot uses his superior judgment to avoid situations which require the use of his superior skills.” So, look for ways to make things easier on yourself.
Building in buffers into deadlines can create the cushion to make life easier. The worst case is that you finish the project on time. The better case is that you have extra time to “plus up” your client’s experience, and they not only want to work with you again but recommend you to all their friends!
Hit that Reset Button
At the end of the day there’s only so many barrels that you can tackle. You’ve done what you could. Don’t beat yourself up for those barrels you missed. Laugh at the easy ones that you f-d up.
Get some rest. Do your morning routine. (You DO have a morning routine, don’t you??) Tomorrow is another day to take on Kong!
In the end it’s a constant process of leveling up — not just your daily “to do,” but yourself!
Most of all, connect with a tribe that not only is their to cheer you on when you hit high score. Thanks to Milena Strangelove and her tribe of Idealists for inspiring this post!
To connect with other Indie Creatives join us on Blab. For more on indie creativity and entrepreneurship visit Butterfly Formula or to follow my food travel adventures or digital nomad journey visit Tango Vagabond.
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