Every day, sometimes two and three times a day, I write out a to-do list. I have been doing this for as long as I can remember. I’m a visual guy, so I break up my page into four corners. Each corner is for a subsequent, different area of my life. The reason I make these lists and rewrite them so incessantly is two-fold; 1) I must look at the list every day and this ensures that nothing slips through the cracks, 2) On the days when I feel like I don’t really have a “big” day with a lot to do, I’m able to look at the different areas and see that there are things that I can be doing, making progress in at least one area of my life.
I deal with many different people, ideas, businesses, and charities on a daily basis. My four main lists are broken up into the following categories: 1) Work stuff for employers – things that I have to do to get paid and eat, 2) Work stuff for my interests – this is comprised of the things that I have interest in and I’m working to bring to fruition, 3) Life stuff – this list ranges from cleaning up my workspace, doing laundry, sending someone a birthday gift, to writing blog entries such as this one, 4) Commitments I’ve made to others – this list is typically comprised of things I have told friends, family, charities, etc. that I will do.
These four lists involve a ton of different people, organizations, and skill sets. They keep my mind sharp, diverse, and they keep me well rounded. They all compliment each other very well. I move at a pretty high rate of speed in everything I do – I know many of you are the same way and you’re left feeling like you’re waiting on others a lot of the time. I’m not the most patient guy in the world, so it’s very easy for me to get frustrated when others aren’t moving at the speed I’d like – this is a flaw and something I’m working on. My priorities are NOT everyone else’s priorities, so recognizing that notion is the first step to creating balance in my life and becoming a more understanding, empathetic individual.
Aside from growing frustrated in one area or “list” in my life, it’s very easy to become stagnant and in a state where I’m just kind of existing or waiting on others. I don’t want to sit in front of a computer or do nothing, so what do I do? I look at another area or “list” in my life and there’s ALWAYS something I can be doing. As I mentioned, the different lists I have broken down compliment each other and keep me balanced. They ensure that I am always making progress on at least one front in my life. Additionally, the diversity in the areas of my life is a true blessing because I can be running through a strategic business plan, organizing a sales or marketing initiative, take it as far as I can, and then I can shift my focus to something totally different such as figuring out how to help someone who needs it or sending someone flowers, a gift, whatever. This really allows me to understand what is really important in life. The ability to shift my focus and energy from something as necessary and mundane to me as making money to something as fulfilling and meaningful as helping someone out affords me the perspective to see things in a larger scope, take a step back, and really APPRECIATE what is important in life.
The two most important things to me in life are LOVE and PROGRESSION. I try to give all I can to whoever I meet and it goes hand in hand with not only my progression and their progression, but it also goes hand in hand with progression in general.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m very busy and I always revert back to something I learned back at West Point: “Priorities of Work”. This is something that Soldiers are taught while training for combat. For example, when you get into a position on the battlefield, you are trained to always think about “Priorities of Work”. These are drilled into Soldiers at the most survivalistic level: Defense, Force protection, Supplies, and Improving your fighting position (or as I like to look at it – PROGRESSION). I find myself using this ideology with everyday life. Once I feel like I have taken a task in an area of my life to the point where I have exhausted all of my energy, done all I can, I move on to another area or list and begin to work on something else.
Do you have a to-do list that you write out every single day?
If not, give it a shot – and try breaking it up into categories. I guarantee you will become more efficient and you will not be left with that “existing” feeling, waiting on others. My to-do list is something that really works for me and I think it can help everyone. From the busiest folks who feel like they are overwhelmed to the folks that may feel like they are “existing” each day with no real direction. Think about what your categories can be – they can range from those necessary things at “work” all the way to the dreams, wishes, and hopes that you have. Creating these lists and looking at them every day will force you to make progression towards your goals in each area of life. This exercise might even make you create a list for an area of your life (like that book you want to write or new venture you want to tackle) that you aren’t paying much attention to right now, but could be…
If you give this a shot and create a to-do list with categories, you might be surprised at what you want and more importantly what you COULD be doing every day to PROGRESS and achieve your goals. Time is finite – it’s all we have. Think about it and don’t waste a second. Love life, love yourself, love others, and make progress – YOU CAN DO IT.
Love & Peas,