THE GET TO DO LIST
ARE YOU RIDING THE MERRY-GO-ROUND OF A “TO DO” LIFE? If so, get off the ride and change your attitude.
If you want to get things done and feel more satisfied when you do, it’s time to give your daily tasks an extreme makeover — and turn your To Do List into a Get To Do List.
I’ve always taken an old school approach to my To Do lists. As a former movie executive, I’d start by breaking out my trusty orange Papermate Sharpwriter, write the date on the top right corner of a sheet of paper, and then go to town. I’d scribble row after row of things that needed to get done — sometimes I’d prioritize, sometimes I’d categorize, but overall it became a long list of both work and home tasks. I was proud of how long it was and how much (or not!) I got accomplished each day. Funny thing was… the list NEVER got smaller. As quickly as I’d cross things off of it, more tasks seemed to appear to take their place. I knew it was time to end the tyranny of the To Do list, but I didn’t know how.
Now, as a Personal Producer — inspiring families and business into better life efficiency , I have a different approach about the dreaded “Have-To-Do-List.”
WHY OH WHY — THE FIVE WHYS
I decided to break out of my personal and professional Groundhog To-Do Day by applying a business strategy called The 5 Whys. The 5 Whys is an inquiry-based methodology, developed by the innovators at Toyota, that encourages you to continue to ask “Why” at least 5 times on a single question. The goal is to discover the root of the problem and uncover inventive ways of solving it.
I applied the Five Why’s to my To Do list. Here’s what I learned.
Why do I keep a To Do list?
Because I am forgetful. Why?
Because I have too much to do. Why?
Because I’m busy and have a lot of responsibility - many people who rely on me. Why?
Because I have a full and abundant life, filled with work and people I love and care about. Why?
Because I am blessed to be alive at this specific time at this specific location on this earth Why?
Because life is joyful, fun, messy and I get to live it as fully as I want.
As the above trip down the rabbit hole of my mind demonstrates, I was using my To Do List to solve the WRONG problem. I THOUGHT I was forgetful, and that writing everything down and then crossing said everything off my list would address the “I’m overwhelmed by my life and responsibilities” problem. But the reality is that the To Do List only accentuated this problem, and wound up making me feel worse. It told me everyday that I wasn’t doing enough, being enough, or getting enough done.
Like I said, I was solving the wrong problem.
“I HAVE TO DO” vs. “I GET TO DO”
I realized I was applying short term solutions to the long term problem of not being present in my own life… and accepting it in all it’s glory and messiness. Or to put it another way, “How can I be in the moment, get that presentation done and not forget to pick up my child from Volleyball practice?” I want to live my day to day life with greater heart and consciousness AND still take care of my responsibilities and tasks.
These days my To Do List is less about getting stuff done, and more about moving towards who I want to be.
I decided to connect my daily plans to the emotional need behind each item on the list. For example: if the task is driving my kids to school, the true emotional need is to be more connected to my kids. The result is a car ride to school that’s way more engaging and fun than if I’m ticking it off a checklist. If I want to have clarity about my business, I run weekly P&Ls — the clarity is the need. If I want the house to be orderly, I tell the family it’s time to love the house and we tidy up. This approach works well even for those end-of-the-day-and-mom’s-bone-tired tasks. When I get home and don’t feel like walking the dogs, I remember that what’s good for Coconut and Sugar (yes, two dogs!) is good for me — physical well-being.
When I start to connect the mundane task to the emotional need underneath the action, all of a sudden the task shifts from something I have to do to something I get to do. Maybe even entering the realm of something I want to do. I get to pay my property taxes because I am a responsible home owner and member of the community. I make that cold call because I believe in my work and I know I am offering something of value. I get to pick up the dog poop in the yard because my dogs are healthy and I enjoy a clean yard.
YOU GET TO BE HERE NOW
This simple approach has helped me change my attitude to be more present in my own full, wonderful, imperfect and unpredictable life.
I still have to drive carpool, write the email, make the call and fold the laundry, but I can change my attitude about doing them. As Maya Angelou says: If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.
When life starts to feels too overwhelming and too busy, I remember my GET TO DO LIST and ask myself, who do I want to be and what do I get to do right NOW?
Share with me in the comments something on your To Do list that is now your Get To Do! Visit my website for more information on how to become effective efficiency experts in your own life: www. personalproducers.com