A: Allow me to start my answer by reassuring you that you have some stunning company. If I had a dollar for every person I know who has at least felt this way, if not lived this way, I would have a second home in Fiji by now. Said a better way, don’t beat yourself up for this space you find yourself in because we’ve all been there. In fact, some of us, for better or for worse, know the lay of the land pretty well. And when you find yourself in this space, it’s a bit like polishing off an entire quart of Ben & Jerry’s as though it was a single serving that never even had time to melt. You need to just forgive yourself for allowing life and all of its incessant, seemingly urgent demands get the better of you and of your time. Then take a deep breath and hit the “reset” button.
But the solution is not only remarkable effective, it’s darn cheap. Greg is a fanatic about making lists and it is one of the simplest, yet most astonishingly effective tools I have ever witnessed. In fact, it’s worth in the world of efficiency cannot be rivaled. Case in point, if I go into the grocery store with a list, I’m in and out in 20 minutes. If I wander in without one, I’m doomed to wander the aisles for a solid 45 minutes hoping that I will catch sight of something that jogs my memory and reminds me of what it is exactly that we needed. If I start my day with a list my productivity increases tenfold. I’m no longer wasting time and energy wondering what it was that needed to get done or whether or not I got the marketing flyer sent or the Thank You notes dropped in the mail. Now for all of the emphatic urging I can give you about writing lists, I’m still not very disciplined about it but I am committed to being far more so. But in the same breath I would also like to ask you to drill down on precisely what about the busyness is truly unsettling you. I recently went through a wave at my kids school where we went from birthday parties, to Portfolio Nights, to Graduation parties (for Kindergarten!) to a teacher’s baby shower and I felt as though my involvement in all this barely allowed me to come up for air. But what I realized was that I wasn’t frustrated by the fact that I was trying to create a memorable Baby Boy themed shower to include cake pops that I was determined to perfect regardless of the fact that I had never done it before. What truly bothered me was that I didn’t feel as though I had the time to devote to these things because so many other things were now being neglected. I might actually enjoy figuring out how to work with fondant and make something really special for my daughter’s birthday if I didn’t feel so conflicted about all the other “more productive” stuff that wasn’t getting my time and attention. So do pay attention to what about the busyness most disconcerts you. Is it what you are actually doing, or is it other people’s expectations you are battling about what you “should” be doing.
Now, want to, versus need to aside, likely your list will seem heavy on the trivial, seemingly insignificant stuff that is currently weighing you down with “busy.” But this “stuff” that can seem to clog our day and our life is often times the stuff of life. As odd as it may sound, make an effort to find meaning in the mundane. If the kids need haircuts, I go to the shop that one of the mom’s at their school owns. And while I’m checking something off my list I’m connecting with someone in my children’s lives and letting her know that I value this relationship. If it’s something as tedious as changing the oil in your car, bring a book, return phone calls, or clear out your Inbox. THEN the most important part is to cross these nuisance things off your list and give yourself credit for the accomplishment. I used to be surprised by the range of entries Greg would put on his lists. Some were huge, urgent, behemoth tasks but he would also write down the simplest things and cross those off the list as well. And I realized there is unspoken genius in the sense of accomplishment that this provides regardless of how plebian or profound the task happened to be. But here is the heart of the matter. Make it absolutely non-negotiable to put something on your list each day that feels significant and important to what you deeply value and hold most dear. Don’t put picking up the dry cleaning and organizing the garage on the list before you’ve added in a lunch date with a dear friend, or that weekend trip you’ve been meaning to schedule for the last two years. Don’t ever let the day-to-day, be more important than tending to your heart’s desire. It’s up to you to allow what matters to truly matter and that means making time for it…making time for you.