Take Control of the Day By Using This Tool

Stop > Keep > Start

The “to-do list” of life for parents and teens can seem overwhelming. Get the kids to school on time. Pay the cell phone bill. Study for the chemistry test. Don’t forget to pack the soccer cleats. Drop one child at band practice but don’t forget to pick up the suit from the dry cleaner. On and on it goes.

At times, the never ending to-do list of life feels overwhelming and can create a sense that life is spiraling out of control.

One tool I use and teach to my clients for bringing some order to the chaos of life is called the Stop/Keep/Start framework. Stop/Keep/Start as a tool finds its origins in the realm of business and management, where it is used to clarify the optimum path forward. But its significance isn’t limited to business professionals. Instead, Stop/Keep/Start offers a simple framework for ordering the day for any adult or teen.

How It Works

Stop/Keep/Start is a mindfulness tool practiced by taking a brief pause in the day to pose three questions to oneself:

What is one thing I want to stop doing?
What is one thing I want to keep doing?
What is one thing I want to start doing?


It’s easy to fall into habits that aren’t conducive to productivity. Time wasters such as social media, scrolling Zillow, or video games are fine when used in moderation but can also turn into black holes, sucking the moments from the day minute by minute.

The question, “What is one thing I want to stop doing?” can be the wakeup call you needed to identify one activity you’re doing that isn’t serving your bigger goals for life.


The question, “What is one thing I want to keep doing?” offers a chance to celebrate what is working. This might be a daily habit such as leaving on time for work or school. It might be the healthy practice of getting enough sleep. Asking the question of what to keep doing is a conscious way to identify and pat yourself on the back for a habit or activity that is worth reinforcing.


The next question, “What want to I start doing?” is where it gets really fun. Choosing to start something is a way of creating new possibilities and adventure in life. The right thing to start doing is anything that leads more towards the ideal goal for life. Here are some ideas:

  • start waking up fifteen minutes earlier
  • start disconnecting from electronics an hour before bedtime
  • start packing a lunch the night before
  • start reading a book just for fun
  • start asking for help with homework
  • start using a grocery list when shopping


The Start/Keep/Start framework is not a miracle worker or quick fix to major problems but is a simple mindfulness tool to help bring some order to the busyness of life. Setting aside three minutes of the day to ask, “what want to I stop/keep/start?” is one way to move more towards the goal.  

Coaching Services

Interested in learning more strategies to help your day to day functioning? I would love to work with you! I work collaboratively with clients to cultivate personal systems, habits, and practices to help you move in the direction of your ideals.

I offer coaching for some of the following goals:

  • Finding motivation and inspiration
  • Personal finances (budgeting, saving, investing)
  • Cultivating personal accountability and ownership
  • Goal setting (values, vision, mission, SMART goals)
  • Creating systems (scheduling, to do lists, time management, breaking large goals into small tasks)

To see about a potential fit and intake, please reach out to our clinic at info@yfinstitute.com or to my email dbreeding@yfinstitute.com.


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