Start by no longer calling it a “to-do” list. Just the inherent nature of the words, “to do”, hits most of us like an anxiety ball of fire. “I gotta get this done today!!!” Has serenity written all over it, don’t you think…
I suggest to begin by calling your task (to do) list – “Add’s Value” When you look at the title of your list the first thing that will hit you is to consider the things you are putting on your list and do they add value to your overall goals; in other words – are they worthy of your time.
Okay, so I know some of you are thinking, “come on”, we all have things that have to get done that must be on my list or I will forget and I wouldn’t think of them as “Add’s Value.” Let’s take, Call the Groomer, for an example. For me, calling the groomer does add value. I love my dog, but when his hair gets to long it can definitely rob some of my serenity. So, making sure I call the groomer is worthy of my time to do so. If I didn’t care about the dog hair then, no problem, I’ll ask someone else to do it and forget about it.
Ideally, you have your goals, short and long-term, in a place where you are reviewing them often. The things that you allow yourself to spend time on should be supportive of these goals. Far too often we allow ourselves to spend time on things that rob our time and we have nothing to show for it. For example, I may be looking for an outfit to wear to a special event. While looking for the outfit online, I get side-tracked with the special sale a retailer is having. I end up spending an hour looking at and considering things they have on sale. I didn’t get my outfit picked out and not a minute of that hour advanced me closer to where I want to be. Nothing value added about this “waste of time.”
I would propose to you that a more constructive approach would be to consider, when I add this to my “Add’s Value” list, staying aware that I am expending my time in a way that advances my goals. I have a goal to spend a certain amount of time on my business on the days I do business activities. If I give away an hour to looking at things on the internet, then I’ve just sabotaged myself. What will happen later when I don’t get the time spent on my business? I’ll be angry at my lack of discipline. You may be wondering, how does the task of “find an outfit” possibly advance my goals? I may or may not have a specific goal at this time that supports this need. We will always have things that come up and simply need to be done. That isn’t the issue as much as how we handle those unplanned tasks. In this example, the problem wasn’t that a special event came up and I decided I needed a new outfit, the problem was that I didn’t stay focused. Thus, not only was there no value added, but it created greater problems. Having said this, there certainly was the same decision making (adds value or not) involved when I first decided that I “needed” a new outfit as apposed to whether I had something in my closet already that I could wear.
The example that I’ve been using here begs the question: should we time box the things on our “Add’s Value” list. I certainly believe there is value in this approach if the activity can easily get side-tracked just as it did in this example. It is a worthy consideration based on your own characteristics and the knowledge that you hold. I have a friend that always wants to discuss more than what I had on my mind when I called her. Knowing this, it would behoove me to be conscious of what I’ve got going on when I decide to make the call and to ensure that I actively manage the time that I spend on the call. If I can only give it 15 minutes, then I need to handle the situation accordingly and it may be very value added to put “15 min” next to this item on my list.
Another big consideration with your “Add’s Value” list is the awareness of things that work for you and things that work against you. We’ve seen a bit of this already, but further is to be aware of the things that you do well and/or like and things you don’t do well and/or dislike. Things that you don’t do well, or very much dislike, will have preparation time attached and will also take extra time due to just getting yourself up for the task.
What can you do about activities that you really don’t like and/or just “have to be done?” Ask yourself the following assessment questions:
– How could this task or activity add value to my life?
– Can someone else handle this task or activity?
– What are the consequences of completing or not completing this?
– When is the most value added time to work on this?
Place your goals where you can see them no less than weekly (daily is SUPER!). Take time to create your “Add’s Value” list at the beginning of the week and revisit it every morning and at the end of every day. The small amount of time it takes to do this will be worth it as you ensure the time you spend on getting things done is time you are more than pleased with because you are continually advancing towards your goals.
Need some help with all of this? Give me a shout. I would love to help you put your goals in place and achieve them. Contact Coach Deb