IT'S TIME TO TAME YOUR "TO-DO" LIST
By Valorie Burton
Bestselling author, life coach and speaker
While coaching an incredibly accomplished woman recently - a mother, wife, high-ranking military officer and community volunteer - she shared something that you might be able to relate to if you are balancing multiple roles. She said: "Sometimes, one of the 'to do's' on my list is to make a new 'to-do' list!" With so many responsibilities, her 'to do' list helps her on track, but can also be a source of stress.
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 extension and 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 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.
Until next time,
Relax and enjoy your life .
Valorie Burton is author of Rich Minds, Rich Rewards: 52 Ways to Enhance, Enrich and Empower Your Life (Villard ? $14.95) and a columnist for Heart & Soul Magazine. Her daily radio feature, "The Good Life," can be heard on 30 stations nationwide. Register for her newsletter or shop for her books and tapes online at www.ValorieBurton.com.
Her second book, Listen to Your Life: Following your unique path to extraordinary success, will be released in March 2004.