Don't let a To Do list control your life
You make – or add to – a To Do list day after day. Week after week. Year in and year out. It's a given that this list will never get done. And it doesn't matter how short or long this so-called list of priorities – gotta dos or want to dos – is; the fact that it exists means it can drive your life down a road where it's hard to take your foot off the gas pedal. No wonder you're stressed!
What if there was another way for you to get your To Do list done, with less stress and more meaning? Here's how taking a "pause" amidst the gotta, wanna, have tos and enjoy a more empowered day.
Step 1: Put Yourself First
What if a new way for you to start your day began like this: Before you emerge from your bed (or hammock, or sack, or couch, or …) you PAUSE to ask yourself: How do I want to BE today given what may come my way?
Perhaps just before you ease or jump out of bed you take 30 seconds or simply a single minute to reflect upon what you know or suspect awaits you with family, friends, or at work or in your community life. Before you start to tense up thinking about your time management skills, read on.
STEP 2: Imagine Being Your Best
Instead of starting to have your mind churn – and your heartburn burble or your blood pressure inch up, or your back twinge a bit – you pause and listen to what your gut answers when you ask yourself: How do I want to BE today that would let me handle whatever comes my way? Hopefully, you've now taken a few stress-reducing deep breaths.
STEP 3: Listen From the Inside Out
Here's how to listen for what you may hear: There's no right or wrong answer. (Whew, that's a relief!)
You may be surprised by what your gut allows out of that wise place when you aren't holding your breath or madly dashing off emails or hitting the ground running. Faced with a tough day you might remind yourself: Today I want to be gentle not hard on myself. Faced with an exciting day where good news awaits you may want to go through the day practicing gratitude. Imagine how this would affect how your To Dos get done.
STEP 4: Seek calm
Ask yourself, What would support me in being this way today – regardless of what comes my way?
Yes, this is your chance to allow the unimaginable to keep you company for a moment. What if you would feel calmer on a day where you're going to be running all over the place, if you wore your favorite color? What if you know you're going to have a hard time fitting in a healthy lunch so you make sure you bring healthy snacks? Even if you only take time for one creative moment of wondering, "What if?", it might make you feel that you have a choice in how to have your day be less stressful.
You can have less stress because you're developing a habit of generating support, even in how you support yourself, by giving yourself some choices you may not have realized you had.
STEP 5: Give Thanks
At the end of the day no matter how things turned out – perhaps your best intentions went awry, or perhaps they were spot on – give yourself a moment as you ease into bed or the shower or a moment between the To Dos and the Got Dones and appreciate you did the best you could in the time you had. Allow yourself to BE more of who you already are because time is worth more than what shows up on a lifetime of lists. Be thankful for the person you are and for the being you are now willing to actively embrace. Over time, you'll find yourself making more meaningful To Dos and feeling far less stress in accomplishing them.
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