Toss Your To Do List
Updated: Feb 14, 2019
What if you always followed through on things? What if you always kept your commitments to yourself?
What would your life look like?
I want to show you a way to get everything done and throw out your to-do list!
Sound too good to be true?
There are more books on time management, getting things done and planning than could possibly be listed here. I believe everyone has to experiment and find the method that works best for them. This is a method from a video by fellow life coach Brooke Castillo and I encourage you to give it a try! It’s an intriguing concept – the idea of throwing out the to do list! I’ve done this (pretty much) for some time, without actually thinking of it this way. However, lately I've been more intentional about using this process for the past few weeks – with very good results!
I like to tell my clients to think of something new as an “experiment.” When we experiment with something, we know that we aren’t married to it for life and somehow it’s easier to deal with the discomfort of learning a new way of doing things.
However, a word of warning! Whatever new thing you “experiment” with, be sure to give it the good old college try before writing it off. Some people hop from strategy to strategy, from idea to idea, and never settle in on a system to stick with for the long haul.
Here's how this “Toss Your To Do List” process works.
1. Sunday evening/Monday morning you're going to do a big giant download from your brain to paper. Get a blank piece of paper, like a legal sized pad not a sticky note ;-). I want you to hand write every single thing big and little that you need to do. What you have to do. What you want to do. What would it be awesome to do?
Keep writing, keep writing, keep writing. When you get everything written out on the paper, ask yourself: "What else is there?" And then again, "what else is there?" Fill up as much of the paper as you possibly can. Empty it all out of your head: work, family, personal, future, requirements, vacation.
Get it all out of your brain and down on the paper.
Then put down the pencil, stand up, take a break, walk around, breathe, go outside, stretch in the sunshine and then come back.
2. Write down all the obstacles for getting those things done. Obstacles are the things that are going to prevent you from doing the things on your list….whatever blocks you from getting those things done. Is there something you need to learn before you can get it done? Maybe you need to hire someone to get this done. What do I need to schedule first in order to make this happen?
After you've done that, take another break. Let your brain rest.
***I want to suggest anytime you're feeling stressed and overwhelmed and like you just can't keep track of everything, do this exercise fresh every week. Start from scratch. Make a new list every Sunday evening/Monday morning.
3. Look at your list and tell yourself the following statement: "I don't have to do anything on this list." Are you in shock? There is not one thing on your list that you absolutely have to do!
There are some things you can eliminate, some things you don't want to do. Eliminate them. Some things will be on there that you think you have to do that you don't have to do. So you're probably thinking “You’re crazy, lady! There are LOTS of things on this list that I HAVE to do!” Well, I will tell you that you don’t HAVE to do anything! There are things that if you don't do them, you'll have consequences. If you don't show up to work, there would be a consequence. But you don't have to show up to work. You don't have to do the laundry, but if you don't do the laundry, there will be some consequences. Just realize you have choices. You have the freedom to make some choices.
You have the freedom to say “no.”
4. Next, prioritize what’s left on the list after you've eliminated some things. Prioritize them NOT by urgency but by importance. Big difference, right? Don't panic. Don't freak out. Calm down and give thought to this part.
So, now you're asking, “What about the urgent things?” Well, after several weeks of doing this process you're going to get to a point where nothing is urgent. You’ll get there…… just relax. Extend the deadline for the urgent thing and get on with it.
5. Once you've prioritized things according to what's most important, put everything on your calendar. First thing I want you to do is schedule your free time: chunks of time when you're going to take care of yourself, when you're gonna spend time with your family, when you're going to do some pleasure reading. Schedule your play/free time, and then schedule all the other things, the work things. Get every item from your list onto the calendar: this week, next week, three weeks from now, two months from now. Plan lots of margin around things. That alone helps reduce stress tremendously!
6. Once you've gotten every item put on your calendar then wad up the list and throw it away. Yay!
Now you're probably asking, what about things that pop up unexpectedly? After you’ve gotten your calendar done and your to do list thrown away, go ahead and put those pop-ups right on the calendar. If you don’t calendar it, then let that be the beginning of next week's to-do brain download.
Now the hard part comes.
When things pop up on the calendar, you have to make a decision to actually do it.
You have to resist the urge to put it off when the whiny, fussy, excuse-making part of your brain that acts like a little toddler starts to take over. Take control and say to yourself: “It's time to do this. Quit whining and complaining and do it.”
Honor your commitment to yourself. Honor what you've put there. Say “I'm going to do what I say I'm going to do because I respect and honor myself!” Then get to it and enjoy doing it.
You'll find that by making decisions ahead of time using your mature, planning, prefrontal cortex brain relieves the stress and overwhelm. If you start to put things off and allow instant gratification to take over, what you are really doing is letting instant gratification rob you of your future!
So here's a review:
Write everything down - all your to do's on a piece of paper.
Next, write down all the obstacles.
Cross off everything you don't want to do.
Put things in order of importance (not urgency!)
Then transfer them onto the calendar.
Throw your list away, and then celebrate and enjoy honoring yourself.
I've created a free checklist for you to keep handy. Print it out, keep it with your planner, and try this process out for a few weeks and see how it goes! With this process, I believe what you'll find is that you actually work less. You’ll be calmer and more efficient, less frazzled, no more pulling your hair out and no hair that’s always on fire!
Remember the questions I asked you at the beginning of this article?
What if you always followed through on things? What if you always kept your commitments to yourself? What would your life look like?
You are about to find out, friend!
P.S. Don't forget to get your free "Toss Your To Do List" checklist!