This 3 Minute Habit Saved My Daily Sanity (A Boost for To Do Lists)


Stop feeling lost in To Do lists and start the day with your mind at ease.

Words swirl around my mind, my thoughts full of things to remember, tasks to complete, deadlines to maintain. Before I even take my first sip of coffee, my mind is abuzz and anxiety is lingering around the corner.

Do you know the feeling? Even with useful systems in place to manage everything on our plate, we can still get hit with a daily dose of overwhelm.

How do I manage it all? How do I make the endless demands stop nagging at my insides? When do I get a minute to slow down and experience anything fun, at all?

Those were the questions I asked myself every morning while my mind whipped through the unanswered To Dos: things not yet recorded anywhere; a new idea I should really try; something I was worried about but couldn’t act on; and so forth.

I had been doing a lot of work on finding some time for personal reflection and planning – something I hoped might help navigate these unanswered To Dos. I had it in my mind that it needed to be some grandiose experience: candlelight, a warm bubble bath, a sparkling glass of champagne … The idea of reflection, like journaling, felt so romantic – I created an internal pressure to set the stage.

So, I didn’t do it.

Then, I created this thing I called the Brain Dump. That doesn’t sound romantic at all, does it?

It’s not. But it is an amazing 3 minutes of my day I will never, ever live without – ever again. And that sounds like love, doesn’t it?!

So, what’s a Brain Dump?

Every morning before I start my work day, before I open my e-mail or check on any To Do lists, I sit down with a notebook, a pen and timer. I write the date at the top of the page, set the timer ( I usually use the one on my phone) for literally just 3 minutes and go – I start writing. A stream of consciousness of all the things on my mind.

I need to finish that Facebook ad and respond to this e-mail and pay this bill and clean the bathroom and take out the trash and find a gift for my nephew’s birthday and ….

In 3 minutes, I generally scribble about a full single sheet in my 8.5 by 11 notebook. After those 3 minutes … I can BREATH! Fresh air! No more mind whirling ideas nagging, interrupting my day and distracting my focus. The amazing thing is, after a few weeks of this practice, I’ve found that some things I’ve had absolutely no “I Need To Do’s” and instead my 3 minutes is filled with writing about things I am thankful for, things I am dreaming of, things that make me happy.

You might be thinking – OK, great – write a bunch of stuff done and it’s my chest. How does that really help?

Well, this second step is super important: After my 3-minute timer goes off, I go back through the list and highlight each action item I find within. I add a circled number by each, and generally end up with between 2 and 7 action items.

IMG_0731Then, if its something I can literally do in 1 minute … I just do it! If not, I add it to my task management system (I recently started using Things and Love It!) and schedule the task for a time when it’s more appropriate. As I either finish the task or add it to my list, I then check it off in my notebook (I’ve included a page from my Brain Dump notebook to give you an idea.)


It’s not beautiful, it’s not romantic – there’s no candlelight or bubble bath … but when you’re done, you’ll feel like you’ve just celebrated something. A weight is lifted, and you’re free to go about your day. Back to your focus work, back to enjoying the moment without distraction. Nothing was missed there’s nothing to worry about … it’s time now, to just be.

*** About Lyssa ***

Lyssa Schmidt is the author of “Perspective: Capture Life’s Worth,” a recently released book that inspires readers to improve their own lives while simultaneously not losing sight of fleeting, precious moments.

Start Reading — get my copy now! (Ebook)

Rather read in print? Grab a paperback.

5 Days to Positive Life Change

5DaystoPositiveLifeTwo days after my daughter was born 28 days early, my 3-year-old nephew was diagnosed with Stage 4 Neuroblastoma. Cancer. Childhood cancer, and a premature baby. These life experiences are certainly something that will shape your perspective.

You know what? Life happens. Circumstances out of our control, whether tragic or not, create instant change, turning our worlds upside down. Miserably, however, is no way to live the one life we’re each given. We can always make the choice to react with resilience, learning from our struggles and strifes.

As children, we have dreams and ideas about what life will entail as we grow into adults. Often, what we wanted then is not what we’re living now. Entering our modern society means making compromises on our dreams and desires, morphing everyday life into something that leaves us feeling half full.

Guess what? The clock is ticking, and time isn’t going to stop. The good news is, we actually have more time than we realize — we’re just often spending it in ways that are making a negative impact. It’s time to switch those experiences to create a positive life.

5 DAY CHALLENGE: Create Positive Life Change

Get my FREE e-book that walks you through 5 days of Positive Life Change in your every day.

Take the Challenge

If you were one of those people that skipped out on or slept through math class, I’m sorry — but we’re about to break this down with some basic numbers.

  • Working a 40-hour workweek at our standard 9 to 5 (and let’s assume a 1-one commute round trip) equates to 48 hours dedicated to our job.
  • A 7-day week totals 168 hours of time alive.
  • Take the total hours in the week, and subtract the time spent at work: 168 minus 48 equals 120 hours left throughout the week.
  • Divide this number by 7, for the average daily hours available (I realize time allocates differently on the weekends when you don’t have work but, remember, this is basic math for perspective). So, the average number of hours available each day outside of work is 17 (120 hours divided by 7).
  • Grabbing our 8 hours of sleep each night leaves us with9 hoursof free-time (17 minus 8).Nine hoursto be spending with family, working towards life goals, enjoying particular moments.

Many people with a full-time job and a family feel overwhelmed, without enough time for the things we’d like to enjoy in life. The problem is likely more that too many people are spending those 9 hours on activities that don’t allow for the ones they’d really enjoy, the ones they feel are missing.

The good news is, we can take baby steps to incorporate more positive in our lives, thereby developing life habits that help us achieve a life to love. We can revive childhood dreams and individual passions, and live those in our every day.

Don’t get me wrong, I understand you’re not always able to only do things that you truly love and that exactly fit inside your purpose. Sometimes, though, we can shift our perspective and make decisions that create a different experience in life.


Over the next 5 days, I’d like to help you change that perspective and incorporate some small activities into your life that bring you joy. This 5-day challenge can be repeated however often to help you develop mini habits that really shape your life into something you love.

Let’s Get Started.

The Only Negative You Need is No: The Power of Positivity in Pursuing Success

The Power of Positivity in Pursuing Success

PursuitofHappinessNo matter what your goals, ambitions or values in life – your mindset, the value you place on your thoughts and how you decide to act on those can create the difference between success and falling short.

People who surround themselves with positive, and invite that positivity into their own thoughts, are participating in a habit that develops more opportunities for real-life skills leading to success. If you don’t believe it, check out this great blog post that dives into the science of positivity, and explains the “broaden and  build,” theory behind positive thinking.

I also believe in the power of visualization, and how consistently visualizing your goals helps you make them come true. (There’s a fun post about vision boards here.)

If you’re hoping to do more with your life, if you have a list of goals you’ve been waiting to achieve – it’s time to start saying, “No,” to negativity that presents itself, as these thoughts are interrupting your ability to focus and achieve.

Well, That’s Thoughtful …

You might be thinking – that sounds great and all … but, easier said than done. How do I stop these thoughts from coming, I don’t feel in control!

Right, I get it.

Unproductive thoughts tend to creep into our minds throughout the day whether we like it or not. These can be basic ideas, such as worrying about household chores, or big deals, such as stressing about whether you got the dream job you recently interviewed.

We’re not looking to banish these thoughts and stop them from surfacing, we’re looking to dismiss their reality, ignore the possibility and more on from the interruption.

When a thought enters your mind, ask yourself whether it helps you achieve something positive that day. If not, either dismiss it or a find a way to turn it into something useful.

For example, let’s go back to worrying about that dream job interview. If you’re overly stressed out about it 1 day after the interview, talk yourself out of worrying about the outcome. Ask yourself, “Did I send the proper follow up? Am I doing all I can to secure the job?” If the answer is yes, then the decision is out of your hands. Play along a little more and visualize your first day on the job, but then let the idea rest. It doesn’t need to bother you anymore, you have things to take care of in this moment.

Psychology Today offers some great tips on talking yourself out of these negative moments.

Other times “No” Comes in Handy

You’re also going to want to practice the art of saying, “No,” to negative people, and requests from others that don’t fit within your values, schedule or life goals. Just because a friend, family member or co-worker asks you to do something or invites you somewhere, doesn’t mean it’s a positive use of your time.

A lot of people struggle with guilt about saying, “No,” to the important people in our lives, but the truth is if they are really important they’ll understand when you say no. Don’t expect everyone to understand, but don’t feel the need to make excuses for the people who give you a hard time – just simply say no, and dismiss any thoughts of guilt that linger as we talked about earlier. This guilt is only interrupting your ability to achieve your own sense of happiness, just as participating in that event or task they requested disrupted your personal path.


The key to everything, of course, is balance. Carefully assess the decisions you make as they align with your goals, values and lifestyle and you’ll find yourself feeling peaceful instead of pessimistic.