Today’s special guest is Alexandra Franzen and we’re chatting about her new book, The Checklist Book: Set Realistic Goals, Celebrate Tiny Wins, Reduce Stress and Overwhelm, and Feel Calmer Every Day.
Alexandra Franzen is a writer, consultant, and entrepreneur based in Hawaii.
She writes about a wide range of topics: life, love, death, grief, unplugging from technology, creativity, focus, productivity, simplicity, time–and how we spend it.
Her sixth book is The Checklist Book: Set Realistic Goals, Celebrate Tiny Wins, Reduce Stress and Overwhelm, and Feel Calmer Every Day. She has written articles for Time, Forbes, Newsweek, The Huffington Post, and Lifehacker. Her work has been mentioned in The New York Times Small Business Blog, The Atlantic, The Los Angeles Times, and Inc.
Alexandra’s newsletter has been called one of the “14 newsletters you need in your inbox” by Brit+Co. Join 13,000 readers and sign up for inspiring stories, checklists, music playlists, and exciting surprises.
Welcome, Alexandra. Please tell us about your current release.
Thanks for having me here today!
My new book is called The Checklist Book: Set Realistic Goals, Celebrate Tiny Wins, Reduce Stress and Overwhelm, and Feel Calmer Every Day.
It’s a book about the power of making a list.
But really, it’s a book about how to clarify what really matters to you—and then simplify your life and design your day accordingly.
If you had 24 hours to live, how would you spend your time? Whatever matters most strongly to your heart, that’s what belongs on your daily checklist.
What inspired you to write this book?
I have a lifelong obsession with checklists. I use checklists for all kinds of things—checklists to plan my day, checklists to prepare for big transitions (like moving into a new house), and I’ve even made checklists for navigating painful situations, like coping with grief, or going through a break-up.
Checklists are powerful. They help us feel a little calmer, more capable, and confident in the face of life’s challenges.
When you make a list, generally, you feel less overwhelmed and more focused. Instead of spinning with overwhelm, you can exhale and go, “Okay, maybe I don’t have all the answers, but at least I know my next 5 steps. I can get things moving in the right direction.” It’s very empowering to make a list, check things off, and celebrate each tiny victory.
What exciting story are you working on next?
I’m working on a top secret project right now—which hasn’t official been unveiled yet. It’s a new company that’s all about detoxing from technology.
I hope to inspire people to spend way less time sitting in front of a screen (computer, phone, tablet, TV) and way more time out in the non-digital world.
I’ve noticed in my own personal life that too much tech-time makes me feel drained, sluggish, and anxious. I would love to help society create more balance—using tech when it’s needed, but not excessively. Because we’ll all feel healthier and happier if we put turn off our phones once in a while!
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Probably around age eight. That’s when I wrote my first “book”—which was basically a few pages stapled together! It was a story about flying unicorns which I wrote by hand and illustrated myself! Haha.
Do you write full-time? If so, what’s your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I do! I’ve been a full time, self-employed writer for the last 10 years.
A typical workday for me including working with clients—companies hire me to write materials for them, like website language, newsletters, podcast and video scripts, educational materials, speeches, all kinds of things. I have “writing deadlines” pretty much every single day of the week—it definitely keeps me on my toes!
And, a typical week for me also includes teaching (I teach classes on writing, creativity, goal setting, checklists, and more) as well as my own personal writing—writing essays, stories, books, and my own weekly e-newsletter.
I’ve been able to build a solid list of clients, and consistent income, as a writer. For that, I feel very blessed and grateful.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
One strange thing about me is that…I never learned how to type “correctly”! I use about 4 out of 10 fingers when I type. But I type extremely fast. I have a bizarre approach but hey, it works for me!
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A shark scientist! I was obsessed with Shark Week on the Discovery Channel, and I’ve always had a deep fascination with the ocean.
Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Our planet is going through an especially challenging time right now. Many of our usual routines have been disrupted due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
So, now is the time to double-down on your self-care, and do things that clear your mind and lift your spirits.
Making a daily checklist can really help. I recommend keeping your checklist to one page, max, and focusing on very tiny action steps. Keep it simple. Don’t overload yourself.
What are some “tiny wins” that you could realistically accomplish today? Celebrate each victory, no matter how big or small. If you remembered to take a shower, check in with your mom, hug your child, and eat a vegetable today, that’s beautiful and worth celebrating. Keep setting tiny goals and checking them off your list. Take good care of yourself. xo.