We’re all busy. (And by we, I mean, women.) We spend our days trying to complete a bottomless to-do list and our nights worrying about the stuff we didn’t get to, mentally adding it to tomorrow’s list, and wondering how we’ll ever manage to catch up. So today I’m going to give you ten tips for making your to-do lists shorter, your days last longer, and your nights be restful. Ready? Okay!
1. Accept that you, and I, and everyone, will leave this lifetime with an unfinished to-do list. Therefore, spending time and stressing over getting it done is completely and utterly ridiculous. You’ll never get it done. Let it go.
2. Think about the end of your life, when you’re on your way to the other side, maybe your very last day on the planet. Imagine yourself sitting there, knowing it’s the end (of this round) and looking back on the life you’ve lived. What will you regret not doing more of? Working? Chores? Items on the endless silly list? Or having fun with your soul mate, you kids, your grandkids, your best friends, playing with your pets? That’s a quick way to put the to-do list into perspective.
3. Take a good look at your to-do list, and pick off the things you really want to do, the things you’re eager to do, the things you’re dying to do. Move those to the top of the list.
4. Take another good look at your to-do list, and pick off the things you are absolutely dreading. The things you just don’t feel any eagerness or excitement about, the things you wish would just go away. Now take those things and put them on another list. This list is for the Universe, God, Source, Goddess, The Whole, your higher self, your higher power. Put their name at the top of that list. Set that list aside, and let it go. Don’t think about it again. In a few days, when you go back to check, you’ll be amazed to see a few of the things on that list have somehow vanished. Either someone else did them, or the situation changed and they no longer need doing. (Do this with confidence, and don’t do it with anything you’re going to worry about until it’s done, because it only works if you can take your focus OFF the task entirely, basking in confidence that it’s out of your hands.)
5. When lying awake at night worrying, apply this technique. IF the thing you’re worrying about is something you can fix right this minute, then get out of bed, and fix it. Poof, it will no longer keep you awake. IF the thing you’re worrying about is something you cannot possibly fix right now, then understand that worrying about it is kind of useless. You will fix it when you can fix it, and until then, worrying about it does no good whatsoever. On the other hand, if you can let it go, it might just resolve itself by the time you get around to taking action. Also, make a note of the thing that keeps you awake most, and fix it at the first opportunity, so you’ll sleep better.
6. The above advice, “fix the thing that worries you most first” seems to be in conflict with “do the things you really want to do first.” But the key is to do what feels best. You’ve got to be able to weigh your options according to what is going to feel good while you’re doing it, (the stuff you can’t wait to do) as well as what is going to feel good once it’s done (the stuff that worries you and keeps you up nights.) If doing the dreaded task and having it off your list feels better than dreading the task and still having it looming over you, then do the task. Always do what feels best.
7. Whatever task you decide to do, focus every particle of your energy on that task. Be completely present and attentive to the moment. Let yourself get immersed in the job at hand (or the fun at hand for that matter.) Whatever you’re doing, do it completely. Most of us do one thing while thinking about the next five things on the list. But our lives are NOW. There’s no such thing as the past, because it’s gone. And the future only exists in the future. Right now, there’s no such thing. Only this current moment. So whatever the moment offers you, relish it, and try to see, hear, smell, taste, feel, experience every single part of that moment. Give it your full attention. It will add so much more to your experience that way.
8. Even the unpleasant tasks can be fun if you make up your mind that it can. When I’m doing housework, I put on loud music. I dance around, sing at the top of my lungs, really rock out while I’m doing mundane things like scrubbing the bathroom or washing Dozer-slime off the walls. (He’s a mastiff, you see. Did you see Turner & Hootch?)
9. Multi-task, but only with the really mindless stuff. Okay, yes, I did say to focus entirely on whatever thing you’re doing to experience it fully. But let’s face it, there are some tasks that are just really not full of all that much to relish. Like folding laundry, for example, or emptying the dishwasher. I always jump up and do those tasks while having daily phone chats with my girls. Because with five of them, that adds up to a whole lot of phone time. I can’t do a lot of things while talking, because I want to focus on the conversation, and complex tasks distract me. But simple, mindless tasks like these are great to do while chatting. Gets them off the list, and you’re enjoying yourself while doing them. Your mind is on your phone call, while your hands are working on auto-pilot to put the clothes away or stack the plate.
10. Make the good things as important as the “jobs.” Important enough to go on that list of yours. And break up the tasks by putting the fun stuff in between. Also try to put physically demanding tasks in between the more mentally demanding ones that are done while sitting still. Intersperse these as much as possible. Fun, then boring, physical then mental. “Pay the bills. Meditate for 20 minutes. Read the Galley Edits. Go for a jog. 30 minutes in the hot tub. Mop the kitchen. Make the bed. Watch Oprah’s Master Class. Write ten pages. Play on Facebook. Weed the garden. Write the blog post.
But above all, remember that the list is inherently endless. The things you check off it today will reappear tomorrow or next week or next month, and new things will come to replace them or join them. Life is about having fun, not getting it done. The world will not end of your lawn isn’t mowed on time. And it would be healthier for you to go swimming instead.
Let it go and relax a little. It’s really more important to enjoy your day than to check items off that list.
Try it out and let me know how you do! What are your tips for making time work for you instead of against you?
PS: We’re in Week Two of the ENTER THE PORTAL Contest! Every week there’s a new question to answer (Yes you can still answer Question 1, no worries.)
Each answer gets you another chance at our grand prize, a Kindle Fire or Nook Tablet. Every single entry gets a free copy of my newly reissued e-book, MUSKETEER BY MOONLIGHT. And next week, we’ll offer another FREEBIE for every entrant too. Contest runs all month, at The Portal Books, Contest Page