Scrap The To-Do List And Do This Instead...

Have you ever gotten through a day and wondered “where did it go”? Do you remember what you did? Do you spend lots of time refining your to-do list? Do you feel like sometimes you just keep writing to-do lists instead of doing what’s on the list?

At different points in my life I’ve answered yes to each of these questions. I would go through days hopping from thing to thing putting out fires, reacting to life, and feeling crushed under the huge number of items on my to-do list. Though I’ve always been able to get lots done and stay on top of things, doing this consumed me and I lived in a constant state of anxiety…

Does any of this sound familiar? For many of us, especially when we have high expectations of ourselves and our performance, these are very familiar feelings. I bet that getting rid of these feelings and replacing them with a sense of peace and lightness are elements of the “awesome days” we’re working towards.

You may be wondering how you can fix this when everyone wants everything yesterday… you absolutely can fix this by acting intentionally. Acting intentionally… do you want to know what the heck this means? It means changing our mindsets to be aware of our biggest priorities and making sure we spend our time on them. Acting intentionally brings us powerful clarity about how we are spending our time and helps us change our actions to align with our awesome days.

This week we are scrapping huge to-do lists that are impossible to accomplish in a day, and instead thinking each morning about our day ahead and setting priorities that we stick to throughout the day. Will unforeseen things come up? Of course and sometimes we need to make tweaks, but it’s important to be aware and make sure that when something comes up it truly is important enough to change course.

So let’s dive in! What follows is the exercise for the week… 

Think about your typical day now and answer the following questions…

·      What are the blocks of my time that are already allocated to something I’ve committed to doing (and I don’t intend to change my commitment)? Make sure you include work and sleep!

·      Of the blocks of time that are already allocated, which don’t take my full attention? For example, driving home from work, sitting in the car waiting for the kids to finish practice, walking through the airport, and standing in line at the grocery store don’t take our full attention.

·      What blocks of time aren’t already allocated?

Think about your awesome day and answer the following questions…

·      What are the elements of my awesome day? For example, elements may include spending time with people I care about, learning new things, having interesting and/or exciting experiences, using my passions in the work I do, having fun, helping others, making decisions that are healthy for my body, being more spiritually connected, truly feeling grateful, cultivating my creativity, feeling financially free, autonomy, and freedom from feeling a need to control. Everyone is different… these are just some of the most common elements.

·      Which elements of my awesome day are missing from my typical day in some way?

Take the elements of your awesome day that are missing from your typical day and do the following…

·      Pick a place to write down your elements to work on… I have a whiteboard in my home office where I have the areas I’m currently focusing on listed. You could also use a document on your computer, a journal that you carry with you, a chalk board, notes in your phone, or anything else that you are most likely to connect to.

·      Each day write down intentions for the elements you’re focusing on that you will commit to for your day. Some days you may not list anything for certain elements because you may be focused in other areas. For example, on the weekends you might have more time allocated to spending time with people you love and less focused on bringing your passions to your work.

·      Throughout the day remind yourself of your intentions… even the smallest actions count! For example, maybe you want to do something to show someone you care but don’t have lots of time… sending a card in the mail goes a long way and doesn’t take much time!

·      When the day is over, move on.

·      Start with a blank slate each day (I erase everything but the elements I’m working on each day)… this ensures that we’re just focused on today.

A few things to consider…

·      If you didn’t focus where you intended in a day, ask yourself why… sometimes there are great reasons. The key here is to be aware and to make decisions that change priority and focus intentional.

·      Just focus on today… we tend to spend lots of time thinking about what we could have done before and what we’ll do tomorrow and totally miss today. Getting into the present moment and focusing on what we can do now is powerful and moves us from reaction mode to intention mode. We start to make our days what we want them to be!

·      Challenge yourself but be realistic. A big mistake lots of us make (and I’m a big violator of this one) is to way overestimate what we can do in a day. This leaves us feeling defeated and anxious. Our lives don’t change in a day and the key is to do small things each day that move us I the direction of the change.

A few things before you leave…

·      What are you learning? Leave a comment below and share your experience so others can learn from you!

·      Who do you want to help? Share this with them… just click share below.

·      Are you part of the community? If not, you’re missing out on valuable information that is only shared in Carrie’s regular emails. Click here to sign up!