In my previous post I began tackling the subject of mental clutter and how to open up more space in your mind (for, you know, things like creativity, intuition, bright solutions to come through..) When I came back from vacation early July, feeling nicely unplugged, it occurred to me that there were many things I was doing daily, in my very plugged-in NYC life, that generated more mental clutter than clarity.
Today we’ll continue with a special focus on to-do lists. If you’re like me, you love them. And hate them! Perhaps you have several of them, digital ones, paper ones, to which you keep adding more and more… So many to-do lists with so much on them that you ain’t getting much done! Ha. But maybe that’s what it’s all about, perpetuating the feeling of “I’m so busy I can’t get anything done”, which is essentially a way to procrastinate doing the important things in your life, the kind that will get you to manifest your heart’s deepest longings. But let me not get ahead of myself here 🙂
Please enjoy below my 4 tips to organize your to-do list so you actually get sh*t done.
Upon coming back from France, as I reacquainted myself with my pre-vacation to-do list a mild anxiety began to arise. That’s when I realized that out-of-control to-do lists do more harm than good. Similarly to having too many tabs open, ever-expanding to-do lists at once reflect and contribute to a cluttered mind. We keep adding to them, yet if we never get to the bottom of them, the unsettled feeling of unfinished business is constant. Action step: cross out a few tasks. Yes, even things you haven’t done! Do you still need to contact this social media expert you briefly met at that so-so networking event over a year ago? Do you still need to send your resume to this large company when what you really want is to develop your own business? It’s likely that some items on your to-do list have been here for so long that they’re no longer relevant to who you are today. Yet here they are, lingering on your list, lurking in the back of your mind as “not yet done”. Go ahead, release what’s outdated and enjoy the thrill of more mental space + energy becoming instantly available to you.
This step is building up on the previous one. After refreshing your list you’ll want to separate long-term tasks (3-6 months) from today’s tasks. “Meditate for 10 minutes” and “Finish writing my wellness book” don’t belong on the same list. And if you were to bring the latter to your short-term list then it would morph into a specific “finish writing chapter 10” or “research scientific studies about effects of coffee on high-anxiety patients” for example. Action step: make two lists, a long-term one for what you wish to accomplish within 3 to 6 months, the other one for today. Enjoy greater focus and a clear sense of direction now that you’ve prioritized your tasks.
Do you sometimes have well over a dozen tasks you want to complete before the day is over? Do you seriously think you can? I used to. Except I never did! Those unrealistic expectations set us up for feeling like a failure by the end of the day, while bathing in overwhelm all day as we scatter our energy around attempting the impossible. I suspect that doing so is a way to procrastinate tackling the truly important tasks (more on that in #4) Action step: in the morning jot down up to 5 tasks you intend to complete that day. This will be a challenge at first, but oh so satisfying when you can actually say “DONE!” by the time bedtime comes around. (no worries if you wrap it all up by noon you can always add more. Or go to yoga!)
Differentiating between important tasks and urgent ones was a huge eye-opener for me. I learned that from Marie Forleo. The premise is that urgent tasks usually feel that way because they involve other people’s schedules and agendas. We feel pressured to act quick. Think emails, text messages, phone calls to return…ASAP! On the other hand, important tasks relate to our personal growth and well-being. For example: preparing for a presentation at work, developing new content for an upcoming workshop, meditating in the morning. Sure, we all want to grow and expand but it’s scary too. As a result most of us will unconsciously prioritize urgent tasks, while important ones remain unaddressed. Then the months go by and those cherished dreams never seem to manifest. Action step: determine which tasks on your list are important and which ones are urgent. Attend to the former first, the latter last.
Alright, that’s it for today. There will be a part 3 to this series, so stay tuned. In the meantime, keep decluttering and enjoy yourself!
With love and resolve,