How To Do Less And Get More of What YOU Want
Rather than wake up each morning dreading the to-do list, here is a simple, easy system of five master questions to down-sizes your list and get you more of what is deeply important to you: less stress, better balance in your life, stronger relationships, good night’s sleep, confidence, and lots more time for you.
Somewhere along life, you probably learned (most of us did) that everything on a to-do list is mandatory, must be done immediately, and should be done by you. Your to-do list became a to-due that never gets completely paid. You often give in, give up, and become a follower at the whim of to-do. You quiet your inner longings, deplete your energy, and defer your pleasure to a time called “someday.”
Here are Five Master Questions that are dedicated to you and your to-do list. You deserve the freedom of having a list that takes you in the direction of where you would truly like to be in your life. Practicing these five questions is the beginning of an extraordinary new system that consistently supports the quality of life you want for yourself and those around you. This is not just a warmed over promise of helping you manage your to-do list. These questions are all about you having more freedom, time, and energy for what matters to you most.
These five questions asked on a regular basis will transform your mindset, shift your list, and give you more freedom for yourself. Rather than spend time always feeling overwhelmed and pressured, by a massive to-do list, you create a set of to-do actions that move you forward every day. And, you will soon discover that you are having fun along the way.!
Here is how to begin:
Focus on your to-do list according to these five master questions:
Master Question 1. Does this “to-do” item still have meaning for me?
Sometimes the to-do list is really huge because we have everything we can think of or ever imagined on our list—all the “gosh, wouldn’t that be nice” thoughts along with our wish list, ideas, and all the New Year’s resolutions from years past. Every time we think of something, we put it on our LIST. The list gets bigger and the number of papers increases. This causes confusion and gets in the way of the things we do need to get completed for our life to run smoothly today.
The first step is to take the time (Trust me, it is worth it) to check this list and cross off the items that have expired (too late to act on), those already completed, ones that were great ideas at the time and are no longer of interest, and things that someone said would be good for you—should, ought, must items that you know will never come to pass.
Keep only the items that still have relevance to now and your future. Now write a list that you call a Master List or My Big List or whatever name fits for you. You have eliminated your to-do list and created a list of items with a personal meaning to you. Just this single act, down-sizes your list and help you feel more in charge of your life.
Master Question 2. Does this item need to be done today?
For today, instead of your usual to-do list, write down the actions you can and will be able to complete today. This means actions with time requirements, project defined, and other agreed upon commitments, including those important to your self-care. Be honest about the amount of time, energy, and willingness you bring today. This is about learning a new way–not doing the old way better.
Have specific and clear reasons for these action steps and how they add to more of what you want. Without a reason that has personal meaning to you, these steps stay a to-do list that fills your time and does not give you the satisfaction and meaning you deserve in your life. Notice all the “should, ought, and must” attached to any actions. Check these carefully because they may not belong on your list. Sometimes we forget to check whose name is on the item and just automatically add it to our list. Then we are feeding and taking care of a “to-do” that belongs to someone else. Don’t make a pet out of someone else’s items.
Help yourself not to take on too much. Notice when you begin to feel full. Otherwise, you are going to feel overwhelmed during the day and unfulfilled at night. You will be so focused on what you are not getting done and what you didn’t complete that you will forget to notice all the ways in which you were extraordinary and accomplished what used to look like impossible.. Appreciation of yourself is essential to your success.
Ideally your daily list is a set of action steps. These are steps you are committed to following through on for that day. This means that what you will do each day is clear, you have a reason for each of the actions. This means that you have a map for your day. The clarity of your wants and actions toward those wants helps you say focused and accomplish results with less confusion for your brain. Feel totally free to organize your list as simply and efficiently as possible. The key is to set yourself up for success.
Master Question 3. Do I want to do this item myself?
Now look at your list of action steps and pick all the action steps that are meaningful to you. Keep these items for you whenever possible. The more meaning your actions steps have for you, the better guarantee you will follow through. The greater your want for this action to be completed, the more ways you will find to stay with the action and the more satisfied you will feel about it.
Often our to-do list becomes a place of refuge for someone else’s list. They may donate to our list through various communications, we volunteer, and/or or we think it would be just great to help them out by doing more than we can really do. We, in turn, say “yes” even when we do not mean it. We just follow the default program in our brain.
Check your list and be honest about what you want and cautious about what you think you should do—even if it is because you want o be a nice person. Remember being generous is a gift only if you have enough energy, time, and want to contribute to someone else. Sacrifice and suffering cause exhaustion and, ultimately, resentment. You begin keeping track of what you have done for someone and the gift becomes not so warm and fuzzy.
Master Question 4. Can this item be done by someone else?
Always check you daily list and see if any of the action steps actually belong to someone else and give them back to their owner. You can say the truth that you over-estimated your time and that you are not going to be completing this item or that you will be glad to do a part of it and they can do part. Be honest with yourself and them. This, of course, needs to be done while there is time to negotiate a solution.
You do not always have to do everything. As a leader of your list, you have the opportunity to share the action steps in a way that helps other people feel competent, successful, and important. In addition, open your vision to notice which people have the skill set, the interest, and the time to complete specific action steps. Develop your skill in knowing those around you so that you can easily assign action steps to the person who would most want and appreciate completing that step.
Everyone benefits because you trusted them, acknowledged their talents and skills, and now you have time and energy to appreciate them. You are building a team, professionally and personally. In addition, those around you learn how to be a leader in their to-do list. You are doing less by giving more to others in a new way.
Master Question 5. If you do this item, how can it be fun and easy?
After you decide which actions are for you and for others, be creative and brainstorm how you could accomplish your actions so that you have the greatest possible pleasure. Train your brain to associate action steps with creativity, simplicity, and fulfillment. Since your brain is always, by nature, searching for pleasure, you can just ask your brain “How can this (action step, process) be fun and easy?” You will be totally amazed at how much differently you discover yourself accomplishing action steps!
Talking to your brain is like typing keywords into a Google search. I have given you five master questions to begin living your life with fewer “to-do” items and one day being able to live life without a to-do list at all. Design your action steps according to what you want in your life. Have fun!
Quick Start Exercise:
As with all things new, these five questions take some practice in the beginning. You may be afraid that this takes too much time because you already have too much on your list already. So here is a quick way to begin:
- Look at the list you have right now.
- Pick any item.
- Ask these five questions:
- -Does this item still have meaning to me?
- -Does this item need to be done today?
- -Do I want to do this item myself?
- -Can this item be done by someone else?
- -If I do this item, how can it be fun and easy?
Super! You have asked all master five questions. Now you can stop now or continue to another item.
Key: Using these five questions on a consistent basis will transform how you look at every area of your life your life. One day soon, you will notice that you are asking these questions about other things in your life and your life will change–question by question.
Write and tell me how you use the Five Master Questions in your life and what you would like for your world to be easier.
Until we meet again, ask your questions and watch your life to change!