Today’s guest blogger is the fabulous Valorie Burton. She’s a speaker, personal and executive coach and the author of many great books including her latest Where Will You Go from Here?: Moving Forward When Life Doesn’t Go as Planned. Enjoy!
Have you ever felt as though your life was a series of projects or errands waiting to be checked off of your list? If you are not careful, it can be easy to focus more on what you have not done than on what you have done. As you focus on doing more in your life, make sure that the things you do are an expression of who are you and what you value. Don’t allow activities that are not meaningful to crowd your to-do list. Learn to say ‘no’ to invitations and requests that are not the best use of your time. And schedule time to simply “be.” Whether it’s taking a nap, enjoying a massage, going for a walk or reading a book, don’t let a long to-do list take over the few moments you may have to connect with yourself. Here are a few more ideas for taming your to-do list:
1. Limit Your To-Do List to Simple Tasks.
Since half of most people’s to-do list is never completed any way, why not limit your to-do’s to simple things you don’t want to forget rather than major goals or projects? A to-do list item such as, “Pick up your prescription,” is a simple task. “Write your business plan,” on the other hand, is a major goal. The weight of a major goal on your to-do list can make you anxious and keep you from feeling a sense of accomplishment at the end of each day. Instead, divide a major goal into bite-size tasks for your to-do list.
2. Make Your To-Do List Optional.
If you are attached to your to-do list, give yourself a break for one week. Try operating without a to-do list. You might be surprised by just how productive you are. By focusing on your present moments – rather than what you should have done yesterday and what must be done by tomorrow – you get more done.
3. Do Something for Yourself.
If you must have a to-do list, at least make sure it includes things “to do” for yourself. Ask yourself, “How would I like to pamper myself?” Then schedule it on your calendar. The best way to ensure you have the energy to take care of everyone and everything in your life, is to take extraordinary care of yourself.
4. Acknowledge Your Progress.
At the end of each day, make a “progress” list. It is easy to focus on what you haven’t done, but each day, acknowledge what you have done, pat yourself on the back and look forward to tomorrow.
5. Be Realistic.
Don’t put so much on your to-do list that checking it off will be impossible. This is a sure way to constantly feel as though you are playing catch up. Set yourself up for success – not failure – by writing a list that is doable.
6. Align Your Actions with Your Priorities.
Does your ‘to-do’ list reflect the things you say matter most in your life? Rank your five most important priorities. Consider how you have spent your time over the last week. Do your priorities and actions line up? The way you spend your time is the best indicator of your true priorities.
7. Cross a Few Things Off of Your List.
Everything does not need to get done, or at least doesn’t need to get done TODAY. Sometimes you simply need to drop a thing or two to keep your sanity and enjoy your life. Make peace with the fact that there will always be more to do, but that doesn’t mean you should spend every waking moment trying to do it.
How do my daily actions line up with what I say I want? Am I taking steps every day that will lead to my vision? If not, what could I adjust?
My challenge to you this week:
Tame your to do list. Choose at least two actions that will help you simplify or eliminate the list.
If you like this, read her latest feature for Beliefnet: 5 Things Resilient People Do.