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  • cbarbermft

Cathy’s Rule of 2x4

No. It’s not a length of wood, but a time management concept for people who hate time management concepts, and are not self-made millionaires.

This is for folks who get overwhelmed by their never-ending To-Do list, and for those who may not have the fortitude to even create a simple list.

This is for you, the person who gets so overwhelmed that you end up sitting in front of the TV eating a quart of ice cream (or variation) even before you get started.

This is for you, who starts a project, then partway through, you start another project, and so on, until you have a pile of partially finished projects (or as knitters and crocheters call WIPs - works in progress). Then you find yourself in front of the TV with your version of a quart of ice cream.

The type of clients who seem to benefit from this concept are those with symptoms of ADHD, anxiety, depression, and fear of failure. It also helps those who never had the opportunity to learn a time management skill.

I’ve been teaching this skill for over 15 years in groups and classes offered in a variety of settings.

The Rules of 2x4:

Your to-do list has no fewer than two items on it and no more than four items on it.

That’s it.

This allows you to do other things such as go to work, take care of family, have fun, and so on. You know, that “work-life balance” you keep hearing about.

You need to understand that “cleaning the house” is not one item. Vacuuming is one item, doing the dishes is one item, etc.

Why only two? Because sometimes you can be so blue, so depressed, so anxious, so (fill in the blank) that you feel defeated. Sometimes taking a shower and brushing your teeth are your two tasks for the day. Sometimes your day got away from you and you only have enough energy for two items. You get to feel a sense of accomplishment because you tackled two items today. And, if you feel up to it, you can always add one more.

Why only four? This is for the overachiever who has the longest To-Do list out there. You get angry at yourself for “only completing “ a few tasks. Or you feel you “should” do more. Tell yourself, “a therapist gave me a note to slow down. I’m not allowed to overwork myself. I’m only allowed to do four items.”

Only four items allows you to: complete the projects, eat food when you need to, rest, and make room for others to be in your life. How many times have you turned down invitations to hang out with family or friends because of your list?

Again, cleaning the house, and other multi-part projects are not one item. Dishes, vacuuming, dusting, etc. are single items.

AND, if you completed your four items, rested, and enjoyed the other important parts of your life, then add ONE more.

Your To-Do list will be tackled and you will feel sane.

The point is to 1) feel you accomplished something today and 2) not overwhelm yourself and feel like a failure.

And, when you’re done, share that quart of ice cream with loved ones.

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