At Rest

  1. Take some time to zoom out from the day-to-day tasks and challenges in your life.
  2. Search for and identify patterns of problems and annoyances, large and small, that occupy your life—from always bumping against that desk at night on your way to the bathroom, to always forgetting to charge your headset, to structural issues in your marriage.
  3. Find behaviors that you could change, theoretically or practically, that would lead to improvement.
  4. Break the behaviors down into concrete, actionable steps that can bring the desired improvement. These steps might take time and effort to execute, but if the pattern of problems stretches over a long enough time period, or causes enough distress, it may be worth making an effort to resolve it once and for all.

In Action

Whatever you are doing—sorting your laundry to prepare it for washing, working out at the gym, doing research for your work, etc.—try to place a portion of your attention on the next fifty or 500 times you will perform the same action. Ask yourself whether there is a way you can optimize something now that will make it easier the next time you do it.

For example, Tool 1.7: 🏛️ Getting Things Done contains a discussion of doing weekly reviews with yourself. When you do these reviews, you’ll probably create a weekly checklist of items to go over. To apply the Meta tool here, each week when you review your checklist, take a moment to ask whether this is the best checklist for you, or whether you can tweak it so that, next week, it will work better for you. A lot of the time you won’t find anything to improve but, when you do, the benefit will be worth it.