I’m in my office, staring down quite a lot of work – scheduling, new client onboarding, a book reflection I need to finish, and this blog post. I also have those pesky, personal sorts of things to deal with – groceries, confirming an appointment, and figuring out whether or not I need to pick one of my kids up for fall break. There’s more too, but you get the gist.
I’m aware that I need to plan and be pretty productive to complete everything, so in my interior world, I started thinking through the day last night, while in my exterior world, I, well…ok, yeah, I made a list. I also repeated everything I was going to focus on out loud this morning.
It’s the weekend. I don’t know if I’ll finish everything. I might, or I might get interrupted, and I can accept that. My office is a comfy place to do all these things (except the groceries, of course – I’ve already checked those off). But why am I willing, ready, and able to move through all of this stuff? Is it because I’m so driven, or a clock-watcher, or “neurotypical,” or…something else?
Many people I work with make an extensive list for the day, then get discouraged and hesitate to begin – because why begin if you’re not likely to finish? Or they make the Big List and then stall out on where to start. Do you start with the thing that’s almost (or is) late, or the easiest thing, or the quickest thing, or the most challenging thing, or the obligatory thing, or…?
Sometimes I start with any thing, because starting somewhere is preferable to starting nowhere. But this morning, I headed out for groceries super-early because shopping in a crowd absolutely drives me bonkers. I often challenge myself to be the first person through the door when they open. How would Future Me feel if I went out later today, when the mad rush was on? I can assure you very, very irritated – not even the cutest of toddlers pushing one of those little shopping carts would pull me out of my crabbiness in a lengthy check-out line.
So sometimes, starting means avoiding something unpleasant.
But also, I think we get so focused on our tasks and lists that we forget to consider the deeper meaning of the tasks and lists. “I have to get all the things done!!” we valiantly cry, as opposed to considering, “I have to get the things done because ________.” Or even “I get to get the things done because ________.”
Hmm. Maybe that’s a little mantra to try on: “I get to ________, because I ________.”
I get to do my client scheduling/onboarding, because I’m fortunate to have awesome, brilliant clients, and it means something to me to have their confirmations and reminders ready to go. I hope it gives them something to rely upon and feel some comfort with their schedule. I started with this task today, with them in mind.
I get to write a book reflection, because I’m able to pursue a spiritual direction program that’s incredibly meaningful to me. Reading and reflecting on the book is a part of that program, and it gives me more insight (and frankly, I think it makes me a better coach, whether or not spirituality ever enters the situation).
I get to confirm a doctor’s appointment, because staying on top of my health is a foundational need. I’m also lucky to have a great doctor, and I know my confirmation makes her life easier. I like to think about making other people’s lives easier.
And, I got to write a blog post when I initially had no clue what to write, because I know I always enjoy the process of playing with the words and phrases. It’s also part of my business plan to get the posts out. Tasks are allowed to be fun and useful.
Why do the things on your list matter to you? What would it be like if you took a moment or two to consider the connection to what’s important, what aligns with your values, or what makes a difference for you?
Note: I know that a case can be made for too many meaningful tasks – that’s another post. Stay tuned.