I’m addicted to striving. It is hard for me to just sit still long enough to take in the beauty and the peace that is right now because I’m always thinking about “what’s next?” Don’t get me wrong, it is important to have goals and to be ambitious, but sometimes when we stack our “to do” lists mile-high, we can start missing out on things that really matter – time with family, time with ourselves and time to decompress and relax.
Lately there has been a lot of research about the negative effects of multitasking. The human body was designed to focus intently on single tasks at a time. We have to remember that while our conscious mind may be focusing on something, our unconscious mind also takes up energy breathing, blinking and blood-pumping! If you think about your body like a computer battery, the more “windows” and programs you have open, the faster your battery gets drained. When you attempt to do too much at once you literally deplete your energy source.
My simple solution was to start focusing on between 1 – 3 things that I’d like to accomplish per day. Period. The benefit of that is I am setting myself up for success instead of failure. I have short, medium and long-term goals. One of my long-term goals is to host scrapbooking events for women of color. Although this is something that I’m very passionate about, I don’t carry it around on my daily To-Do List. All of my daily to-do list items start with verbs… call the doctor’s office, e-mail business partner, pick-up bell peppers (it seems like I’m always out of bell peppers!), etc.
In order to avoid stressing myself out or feeling negatively about not accomplishing everything on my list I’ve managed to figure out a way to accomplish my goals AND allow myself time to focus on my repetitive to dos – teaching, laundry, cooking breakfast & dinner, etc. There are always interruptions that are pretty much unavoidable so my system also has a way of being able to absorb those without total chaos erupting.
Consider cutting your to do list in half. Focus on between 1 – 3 things that you’d like to accomplish and watch yourself become not only more productive but less stressed out.
Cody Wheeler writes so eloquently about the importance of having multiple To Do Lists here: