This past Friday, I had a drink with a fellow life coach and friend of mine. During our conversation, he shared how he had been using ‘TO DO‘ lists, which served as more of a distraction from his true priorities, than a pathway towards completion of the important task.
As I drove home that evening, I couldn’t help but think about my friend’s revelation. Sometimes the systems we believe should be helping us, may just be hurting us instead.
I began to reflect on my own habits with ‘TO DO’ lists, and soon realized that I was no different from my friend.
Typically when working through my ‘TO DO’ list, I end up de-prioritizing the main things I need to do, in order to accomplish a few easy, short-term tasks. While reflecting, I began to see how I had been switching small, easy redundant tasks into my top priorities, to replace the harder long-term tasks, which had far more long-term impact.
For example, just yesterday, unloading the dishwasher and folding my clean clothes seemed more pertinent than writing a speech I am scheduled to give in a couple of weeks. Additionally, opening and reading all the mail had to be completed before I could go for a run.
What makes it so easy for us to neglect our top priorities and place them beneath remedial chores, like making the bed and checking to see if the kitchen floor needs to be swept?
Now, don’t get me wrong!
Having clean clothes and dishes is important; but, is it AS important as exercising and keeping a healthy routine? Is unloading the dishwasher really more important than reading the first chapter of that self-development book you’ve been planning to read?
Funny how the things with no long-term consequence seem so important to us, and the things that carry major consequence are systematically de-prioritized.
My examples may not be relevant to you, but I believe the parallels they represent should resonate.
I can recall coaching a friend through a challenge she was having at work that supports this premise. Recently, her leader’s boss asked her to complete a particular work assignment. This assignment was not given with a solid deadline, but it would have large implications on how her performance would be evaluated in the future.
Now from the outside looking in, we all would think this assignment should be her number one priority, right?
Well, not exactly.
She’s no different from most of us and so the BAU (Business As Usual) work ended up continually ranking higher than this special assignment. When her leader’s boss checked-in for an update, and found out that the assignment was still unfinished, due to her current workload, how would you imagine he/she reacted?
Not too well, right?
It’s so easy to see when it’s not you! Believe it or not, the majority of us would have done the exact same thing. You have emails to answer and reports to get out!
- How are you prioritizing your TO DO’s?
- Do you have so many TO DO’s that you will never complete them all?
- What are your Top 3 TO DO’s that will have the most impact on your life?
The only TO DO list that really matters should look like this:
- Top 3, TO DO’s for the Month
- Top 3, TO DO’s for the Week
- Top 3, TO DO’s for the Day
At the top of your paper this list should be labeled:
JUST DO IT!
Work this JUST DO IT list!
If you can commit to NOT concentrating on all your remedial TO DO’s, here’s what will happen:
Your energy will get poured into tasks and projects that really matter for overall improvement of your life. This will generate a positive and powerful shift in your life, AND you’ll still be wearing clean clothes and eating off clean dishes.
JUST DO IT and stay inspired, it’s a lifestyle choice!