Let the Power of Listing Serve You… Not Enslave You

Photo credit: Smallest Forest

“Written goals have a way of transforming wishes into wants; can’ts into cans; dreams into plans; and plans into reality.  Don’t just think it-ink it!” — Dan Zadra

How many lists do you make over and over again? Things to do.  Errands to run. Groceries to buy. Work tasks to be completed. Goals to set. Calls to return. School supplies, clothes and gifts to purchase. Home repairs to be scheduled. Vacations to plan…the daily, weekly, monthly and yearly lists can be endless.

I have observed that people’s lives are run by their “to do” lists. They make long, detailed lists, often adding an unrealistic number of items to be completed in a short timeframe. I see clients focus on what is not done rather than celebrate what gets completed. When they do finish a job, they are so focused on moving forward to the next item that they give little thought or recognition for a job well done. Their sense of accomplishment, even self worth, is determined by the number items they check off on a regular basis, instead of the quality and balance they are bringing to their overall lives.

Are you being realistic about your lists and the role they play in your life?  How many lists do you create, what is on them, and how much time do you allocate?  Do you consider if an item really needs to be on the list, and if it brings you joy? Many people sacrifice what is most important to them, such as “me” time to rejuvenate or an occasion to connect with others, simply because they are driven to get one more thing crossed off.

These out-of-control “bad lists” are not good for you, and can create a lot of crazy making. I challenge you to think about how you can be in charge of your lists, your time and your life by simplifying what you do. Let the power of listing serve you, not enslave you.

Three Favorite Listing Habits to Instill:

Brain Dump or Clear Your Mind What is on your mind, occupies your thinking or is bothering you?Use a blank notepad and list all of your thoughts, feelings, ideas, tasks, viewpoints, goals, inspirations, dreams, desires, “to dos”…anything that comes to mind, dump it all. Big or small, anything and everything… this is a mind-clearing. Capture it all as you unload as much as possible. Don’t filter or judge as you let your mind wander and thoughts flow. Tuck it away and refer back to it a month later so you can experience the joy of how much you have accomplished without constantly looking at a piece of paper.

“Post-It Note” It Put each item on a Post-it note, and stick it on the wall. This “displayed thinking” allows you to move items around to group together, to look at what needs to be done next or even see pieces of a bigger picture. It can give you a fresh perspective and help you better organize your thoughts and action items.

Pick Three Choose only the top three things you want to accomplish each day. It is not necessary to have 25 items on a list, and you can get more done by focusing on what is most important in helping you achieve your goals. Share your “pick three” with your best friend or partner at the end of each day.

Three Lists to Invoke Positivity:

 Gratitude List What are you grateful for today? List ALL of your blessings, big and small, include everyone and everything.Claim the positive changes you have made in your life up to this point. Keep this list close by, refer to it often, and add to it as you continue your journey. There is nothing like a dose of gratitude to strengthen your spirit and embrace a more optimistic outlook.

Accomplishment List Make a list of things you have done over the past year so you can see how far you have come. What have you achieved recently? What are you proud of or feel good about? To help uncover these endeavors, look at a variety of areas such as career, money, personal growth, wellness, relationships, home, community, fun, and new hobbies… any place where you invest your time, money and effort. Consider both the external and internal you, and look not only to what you have done, but also who you have become. Add to it and embrace your fabulousness.

Dream List  Envision your dreams by brainstorming a list, mind-mapping or creating a vision that embraces who you want to be and where you want to go. List your desires through journaling, making vision boards or putting your items in a dream box. Claim what you want.

Transforming your list into something useful and “right-sizing” it relative to the realities of your life will give you a fresh perspectiveand more success. Follow your rhythm by knowing when you are most productive and align your actions accordingly.  Good lists serve as focused reminders, goal setting, next steps and processes, mind de-clutterers, creative outlets or assistance to embracing all that you have and still desire to achieve. Make sure you are in command of your lists and, ultimately, your life.

Coaching Questions to Consider When Creating Lists:

1. How will “this item” move you forward in reaching your goals and connecting you to your bigger life vision?

2. Is there “something” on the list that can be done tomorrow in order to create more space for you today?

3. Where do you need to “out-source” something on your list to be more efficient and effective?

4. Will doing “this task” bring you joy?