Make a Not-Today List

What aren’t you going to do today?

Chances are you have more on your to-do list than can possibly be done. Every time you look at it, your stress levels rise, and by noon you know your plans for the evening are in danger. And even if you work half the night, you still won’t be done.

Am I close?

Lists are great. They help you focus your attention, remember details, and keep your kitchen stocked with milk and coffee. (In my world, nothing works without coffee in the house :-)).

But too much of anything can make you feel lousy, and a list of items that translates to 70 hours before 6 p.m. won’t make you feel productive or good about your choices.

You need a not-today list.

Yes, I know, it all has to get done. But when you have two competing thoughts going – “nothing can come off the list” and “it can’t all get done” – you’re stuck in an endless loop. That’s not a fun place to be, and it doesn’t help you focus on what’s most important.

So hit the pause button and get real about what you are and are not going to do.

Start by sequencing your list according to “the world will end if this isn’t done today” to “no one’s going to die if this waits till tomorrow.” Then make a rough estimate of the time needed for each task and decide how late you plan to work today. Voila: you now know what goes on to your not-today list.

You’ll be amazed at how much more energy and focus you have when you’re managing your to-do list instead of it managing you.

And with your new realistic expectations, you might just find yourself living your day the way you want to live your life.

“The first rule of holes: if you are in one, stop digging.” ~ Will Rogers


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