Get More Done with This Crazy Simple System

23 January, 2020

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I’ve been doing this crazy simple productivity hack lately that so totally helps me get more done and crush goals that I can’t keep it a secret any more.

Productivity and myself have a long and complicated relationship. I’m a Type-A to the death sort of person, but I’m also very distracted by “shiny objects”, and I find myself getting excited about new ideas, new ventures, cool and interesting changes of pace…. And never actually complete all the things that I start. 

What can I say? The world excites me! 

My Productivity Tips Were Leaving Me Feeling Behind

But I was beginning to get frustrated that for all my hard work on projects (like this website, or my cooking classes), I felt like I just couldn’t get more done in the way I wanted to. Or, should I say, as efficiently as I wanted to. 

I’ve read all the books, listened to all the Audible, and followed tons of productivity tips over the last few years. But I still felt like I couldn’t get out of my own way. 

I’d read about Todd Herman, a productivity-and-goals focused life coach, plenty of times. A lot of the internet gurus I followed waxed poetic about his programs, calling them life-changing. His big thing is called The 90 Day Year, and the price tag of being in one of his masterminds runs in the thousands of dollars – definitely not in the budget for this working mom. My husband would have been less than enthused by my spending money on something like that. 

Crush Your Goals In Groups of Three

But I’m intrigued by his method of breaking your year into 3 sections of 3 months each, and focusing attention and effort in a concentrated 90-day sprint. Collectively, you get more done -TONS more, in fact – if you break it down this way. 

Add to that, research shows that a true habit forms after 66 days.

I wanted to form habits that became achieved goals.

What if, I thought, you combined those two schools of thought, and made 90 day goals, broken into 3 habits, and formed the habits over the course of 22-day stretches?

(Stay with me. I’ll show you what I mean – and how this works – in a minute)

I call my newest productivity hack to get more done the “Rule of Threes”, and so far it is really helping me crush my goals in 2020. 

I look at it like this:

66 (days to nail a habit) divided by 3 is, give or take, 22.

Take one big 90 day goal and determine the habits you need to achieve that goal. Make the habits something simple, something that can be done every single day. Don’t stretch yourself! The more actionable the habit, the more likely you are to stick with it.

After three 22 day stretches, you’ve got one whole week before you hit the 90 day goal. Spend that week looking back at the last three stretches, seeing the habits that have formed, and deciding your next step. What can you do in this last week to really make that 90 day goal happen?

This works for me because I can do anything for 22 days! It’s way less scary to me than 90 or even 66 days.

22 feels totally do-able. 

Rule of Threes Productivity Hack

First, Break Your 90 Day Goal Down Into Manageable Steps

From there, I decided on 3 “categories” I wanted to improve in my life: my personal relationships, my personal life, and my work life. 

Start broad, then get small

In each category, I decided on a broad goal. 

Personal Relationships: I want to be calmer and gentler with my kids 

Personal Life: I want to feel better in my body

Work-Life: I want to have a more consistent income from my business

Then I broke those big goals down further. what are the habits I need to have in place to consider that goal achieved?

I’ll spend three stretches of 22 days forming the smaller habits that it takes to get the goal done

(here’s a reminder of how the math works: 66 days to form a habit, broken into 3, which equals 22 days)

That last week before 90 days? I’ll spend that reassessing, seeing what worked, making small tweaks, and deciding what I need to do in order to get the 90-day goal fully accomplished.

Here’s the details on my 22-day step breakdowns:

Look at your personal relationships: get more done with this crazy simple system

Personal Relationships: I’m going to work on staying calm every night at bedtime with my kids. They tend to pull all their most annoying moves at bedtime when I’m at my most depleted of patience and understanding. I often get angry and yell, and then feel terrible about it after, and I hate the cycle deeply. So I’m going to work every single night on staying calm and patient and getting them in their beds with little to no shenanigans. 

First 22 Day Stretch: Add to my meditation and journaling the intention to stay calm with my kids at bedtime. Write it down! I’ll also start a more structured bedtime routine with my kids so that they know what to expect better, also. Part of why they’re acting out is because they know when I’m tired, I’m more of a pushover.

Second 22 Day Stretch: Repeat to myself at the start of bedtime each night that I’m going to stay calm and chill, no matter what. Keep up the structured bedtime routine.

Third 22 Day Stretch: Keep a mantra in my mind throughout the whole bedtime routine. Stick to the structured bedtime. And let my kids know that I’m staying calm no matter what, and what I say at bedtime is what goes.

Last week: How is this working? Is everyone calmer? What can I add to keep things low-key during the bedtime routine?

Look at your personal life: get more done with this crazy simple system

Personal Life: I’m working on a new type of diet I read about, called Intermittent Fasting. I’ve chosen a 16:8 fasting window, which means basically I skip breakfast and only eat between 12pm and 8pm.

*Note: I’m not big on “diets” but I need to get my nighttime snacking a bit more in check and stop feeling like crap all the time. I don’t beat myself up if I “screw up” on a diet, rather I adjust and move on….. because life is about living, not tallying calories! I work really hard at just doing the best I can and not getting hard on myself about it. I don’t have a “goal weight”- just the goal of feeling better in my clothes. #stepsoffsoapbox

First 22 Day Stretch: Stay in the fasting window every day.

Second 22 Day Stretch: Stay in the fasting window, and stay in my calorie window as well by tracking what I’m eating in an app.

Third 22 Day Stretch: Stay in the fasting window, stay in the calorie window, and start doing my runs again. I was doing great on the C25K, and then I gave up when I got sick! I really enjoyed it, so I want to get back into it.

Last week: How am I feeling? Is this attainable? Should I look for another way of eating and exercising?

Look at your work life: get more done with this crazy simple system

Work-Life: I tend to be VERY shiny object when it comes to my work life. I’m constantly finding new and improved things to try that will further my business, and all they do is make me feel scattered and like I have 40 plates spinning in the air. I hate that feeling, but the easily-distracted part of me is very real. I’m focusing a lot of my work attention on my Freezer Meals Classes and Freezer Meals Prep Packs.

First 22 Day Stretch: Set up a promotion schedule so I’m more comfortable telling people about the class! Selling is hard, man.

Second 22 Day Stretch: Keep with the promotion schedule, and look at what worked best for the first 22 days. Start doing that more.

Third 22 Day Stretch: Keep doing the promotion schedule. Keep doing the one thing that works best. Find one more way to promote the classes that I haven’t tried yet.

Last week: what worked? What didn’t? What can I do this week to really get the word out about the classes?

Get more done by breaking down your goals into actionable chunks.

get more done with this crazy simple system

First, think of three broad parts of your life – work, personal, etc – where you want to get more done.

You don’t have to work with my three categories, although they are a handy jumping-off point. Do you want to focus more on fitness? Finances? Your marriage? 

get more done with this crazy simple system

Then, decide on one thing you can do in each of those categories.

Just choose one! Make them simple, and something you can easily do every day. 

Finally, write it down!

If you really want to get more done, then this is probably the most important part of the entire exercise.

If you aren’t journaling, I really recommend you start. 

Adding 15 minutes of quiet time into my mornings to meditate and journaling has been lifechanging for my peace of mind. I just add a quick section into my bullet journal every morning, after I’ve done a ~10 minute guided meditation using the InsightTimer app. 

I write down each of my three 22 day goals every day. I don’t need to elaborate, I don’t have to get into detail. I simply finish my journal prompts, and then I write: 

Let’s review my 22 Days goals: 

Stay patient with the kids at bedtime. 

Keep within my fasting window. 

Stay focused on Freezer Meals Classes. 

That’s IT. It doesn’t have to be any harder than it needs to be. But writing out your goals is scientifically proven to increase your chances of success. If you have the ability to handwrite them, that’s even more important. Studies have shown we retain way more information if it’s written in our own handwriting than typed on a keyboard. So flex those writing muscles! 

I’ve just started on my first set of 22-Day Goals for the new year, and I’m excited by the response I’ve had from friends I’ve spoken about it with.

Making big scary goals into manageable chunks – and attaching do-able time limits to those chunks- means you can get more done in a way that feels way less overwhelming than staring a huge idea in the face.,

How are you planning on breaking down your first 22 days? 

2 Comments

  • Reply
    Diane Heim
    24 January, 2020 at 9:06 pm

    Hi, Ruth, I am intrigued by your plan but curious about the 23 days. If I divide 90 days by 3, I get 30 days each. What do you do with the extra 7 days?

    • Reply
      Ruthy Kirwan
      28 January, 2020 at 10:22 am

      Hi Diane! I initially had published the incorrect draft of this post, where I explained it wrong. It’s supposed to be 66 days to form a habit, which broken into 3 is 22 days. I use the extra week before the end of the 90 days to reasses, see what worked, and get ready for the next sprint of 3 sets of 22 days. I realized my mistake and put up the edited post right around the time your comment posted, so I think you got the cached version! I’m so, so sorry for confusion. The post up above is what I should have posted to begin with- I really apologize!

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