My earliest memory begins with me, sitting at my desk in my room, surrounded by walls that were painted robin blue. I
began to write a list of everything that I needed to do that day. 7:30am wake up, 7:35am make my bed, 7:45am wash my face, 8:00am brush my teeth, 8:15am have breakfast. And that’s how it began. Perhaps I thought that making this list would help me remember all of the things that I had to do, or perhaps it was simply a way for me to have some semblance of control over my chaotic life. I was six years old.
I continued my list-making tradition well into high school and University, and although my checklists and to-do lists served me well in many of my endeavours – keeping me focused, helping me stay on track, keeping me diligent, keeping me busy ‘doing’ stuff – my list was also a hindrance. The list was keeping me in a mode of constantly doing, in the frame of mind that as long as I was checking things off the list and accomplishing something that I was being productive, that I was good, that I was progressing, achieving and feeling worthy.
But, you see, the problem with my life being dictated by my list, and my self-worth being measured by whether or not I checked everything off – was that I was setting myself up for failure every time. Because, you see, the list kept getting longer, and I kept running out of time to finish everything on it. And the crazy thing was, I was the one that was making the list. Not anyone else but me.
One time, when I was in my early twenties and working an administrative job in a hotel, my Manager noticed my tendencies of anxiously working through the piles of papers in my physical inbox, a tray that sat on my desk. She said something to me that I still carry around with me twenty years later. She said, “Michela, your inbox will always be full.”
So, if the inbox is always full, then there is actually no reason to rush through it and make myself sick over the guilt, shame, and judgment of not finishing all the tasks?
That was a paradigm shift for me.
I see many of my clients struggle with getting through their to-do list, and running out of time to get everything done that they have put on their own plate. Here are three key ways that helped me move from being a slave to my list, to being the master of my own time:
- Determine what is urgent versus important. Not everything has to be done today.
- Before adding more tasks to your to-do list, ask yourself what you have to stop doing in order to make space for the new or additional thing you want to do.
- Create your to-do list with the end in mind. Start by establishing your big goal first, then create your to-do list based on the activities you need to accomplish to achieve that goal, and overlay the expected timeline.
One of my business mentors is the great leadership expert John Maxwell and he reminds me that “people tend to over exaggerate yesterday, overestimate tomorrow, and underestimate today.”
Imagine if you reached the end of your day and felt like everything you’ve done during the day has contributed to growing your visibility, building your credibility and increasing your profitability in your business?
I help business owners get focused and achieve clarity on the revenue generating and business building activities that will actually make a difference in their business to help them produce the results they expect, within the timeline they want. Contact me for your 45 minute complimentary business breakthrough consultation to learn more about how you can go from being a slave to your list, to being the master of your own time.