Two life hacks that keep me inspired

People often tell me that I look organized.

The truth is that I’ve spent much of my life quite scattered, sporadically focused on what mattered most . That is until I stumbled on the motivation hacks I’m about to share with you, which usually shift me into a natural and joyful flow.

Hack Number One – The Task Tower

The task WHAT?

I created this life altering hack a couple years ago when I found myself overwhelmed with an overly ambitious to-do list, multi-tasking like a crazy woman, jumping from one priority item to the next, and getting very little done.  Sound familiar?

This is how it works.

Rather than write a to-do list, I write EACH thing I want to get done on a small piece of paper. And I mean EVERYTHING, from writing a blog post to calling a friend.  I’ve even put things like “take a nap” on a piece of paper to motivate me to take one!

Every morning when I step into my studio, I start by sorting these pieces of paper (currently about 50+), placing them in one of three baskets in the “task tower” (pictured below) based on the day’s priorities.

Top basket – Tasks that need to happen in the next 24 hours.  Usually less than 10 papers land in this category (thank goodness).

Middle basket – Things I’d like to focus on this week, but they don’t have to be done today.

Bottom basket – These are my nice-to-dos, but could happen anytime in the next 6 months, or 2 years, and sometimes never. Every time I think of a new marketing project, blog topic, or whatever, I write it on a small piece of paper, and store it in the bottom basket until something inspires me to move it to the middle basket, and eventually all the way to the top where it will actually be accomplished.

Now we get to the good part…

Once I’ve resorted the baskets (about 5 minutes everyday), I take all the papers from the top basket, turn them up-side down so that I can’t see the words, shuffle them, and ask God/ Universe/Divine Beloved to put them in the order in which they will serve the highest good.

Then I put the small pile of paper back into the top basket, and read the one that magically lands on top.

Because I don’t know the order in which I’ll be completing each task, it often feels like a fun surprise when I see what the Universe wants me to do next.  This method also helps me to stop avoiding tasks that seem harder than others, like writing this blog post. Yes, I’m doing this blog NOW because the task tower finally “told” me it was time!

The best part of using this hack is the focus it gives me to complete one task at a time, rather than multi-tasking and jumping all over my to-do list.

Because I don’t pull the next task until the one I’m working on is complete, I not only complete tasks faster because all my focus is in one place, but I’m also more engaged and joyful during the entire process of moving through the task before me.

And now that THIS task is almost complete (write a blog post), I’ll soon be pulling my next surprise task from my blessed task tower, and thanking the Universe for yet another gift.


Hack Number Two – Counting hours

I count almost EVERYTHING, from how many days I’ve been in Covid self-isolation (206 to be exact) to how many hours I have created art this year.

The first is just a fun factoid, but the second has become a game-changing motivator and is the primary reason why I’ve created two art collections since the beginning of our Covid “adventure” in March.

Counting how many hours I create art each day started a few years ago with a simple challenge to jumpstart my art practice while still traveling full time for my day gig.

There was only one rule – create one hour of art every day for 30 consecutive days, even while living out of a suitcase in a hotel room (more about this here).  This worked so well that I soon expanded it into a 100-day challenge, which ultimately led to quitting my day gig in 2018.

Then in late 2019, even though I had the time to create 3 weeks out of the month (I now only work my day gig 5 days out of 30), I found myself artistically blocked and creating very little. Remembering what worked to jumpstart my art life in 2015, I committed to The Artist’s Way 12-week journey (read about this here, here, and here), along with another 100-challenge to create for one hour a day.

What I learned along the way is that creating for 100 consecutive days was too rigid, so I modified my commitment to creating an average of one hour a day, allowing me to take a day off from art, and create 2 hours the next day to compensate.

Once again, counting the number of hours that I create art each day was so motivating (and fun), that when I got to day 100, I wanted to keep going until I got to 365.

Now on day 275, I’ve created art for a total of 656 hours, an average of  2.4 hours a day, far exceeding my goal of one hour.

This motivational hack is working so well for me, that I can’t imagine stopping when I get to day 365!


So what life hacks do you use to manage your life?  Please share, so that we can all learn from each other by adding to our life hack tool box.



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13 thoughts on “Two life hacks that keep me inspired”

  1. I like both of these suggestions. I do find a quick list of “to dos” works for each day but then longer term goals fall by the wayside. The tower may work for me. But I especially find the goal of doing art for an average of one hour a day to be appealing. A date w yourself. Will give it a try.

    • Diane,
      I too use a quick list of to-do’s, but when the list becomes overwhelming (often the case), the task tower keeps me grounded and focused on one task at a time. It often feels like a higher power is talking to me as I choose each task, saying “its going to be ok, just do this little thing first”. Would love to hear how either hack work and is adapted by you.
      Love, Catherine

  2. I can affirm the freedom and organization that comes with the task tower -although the format you shared with me in 1996 didn’t involve a tower : )
    I can’t wait to try counting hours as I work to complete a novel. Love you, my friend. So thankful for the beauty you bring to this world!

    • Oh Debbie,
      Seeing your name pop into my comments brought such joy to my heart. So miss you in my life. I didn’t remember that I had another version of the task tower in 1996. Wow. LOVE that you are writing a novel, and hopefully keeping yourself accountable one hour at a time will support your blessed process.
      Much love, Catherine

  3. Dear Catherine, I can’t tell you how happy I am to have recently found your blog. Your artwork is so inspiring to me! And now today’s wonderful ideas to help me in my everyday life. While I used to be a professional organizer, I have struggled to organize my time during the last few months. I love your ideas and plan to implement them, with the hope of doing more art and less stressing over every little task that calls my name. Thank You- You are a blessing! Sheilah

    • Sheilah,
      Your kind words are music to my heart! Thank you for sharing that both my art and blog resonate with you. I’m thrilled that you are going to try on my hacks and see if they fit.
      Many blessings to you as you dive more deeply into your art practice.

  4. Hi Catherine!! So much about this makes me smile. I love that you are choosing how you spend your time and that your methods keep your tasks from feeling like a burden. Beautiful way to reframe a To Do List. Best wishes always!

    • Hinda,

      So sweet to stay connected with you through my blog. Truly appreciate your loving support and miss you in my life.


  5. Love these hacks! Especially #1! And thank you for mentioning The Artists Way….feels like a great way to begin 2021 with another read thru!

    • Sally,
      Thanks so much for letting me know that my “hacks” resonated with you. I’m honored that you took the time to read about them.
      Hugs, Catherine


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