To Do: Kill Your To-Do List

Mark Strategy Planning Hand Check To Do List

What junk is building up around you and keeping you stuck?

I’m not talking about hoarders here. I’m talking about out-dated agreements that are keeping us stuck or that we never got around to fulfilling.

Much like all those apps running in the background on your phone, unkept and out-of-date agreements sap our energy. The best agreements are those we really want to fulfill because they align with our goals and what we want to create in the world. All the others are holding us back.

This is not a moral consideration; it’s an energetic one. Unkept agreements waste our energy and divert our attention.

Just think about what happens whenever you are reminded of something you said you’d do but haven’t yet gotten around to. Now think about how many times a day that thought pops up. In extreme cases, we go to elaborate lengths to dream up excuses or avoid the people we owe things to. That’s all wasted energy and attention — energy and attention we could be using to accomplish the things we really want to do.

Take an Energy Inventory

So, close down those energy-leaking commitments with a simple inventory.

Write down on a piece of paper (you techies might want to use a spreadsheet program) all the things you believe you have agreed to. That includes household chores, work assignments, expectations around when you arrive at work and when you return home at the end of the day, vacation plans, etc.

Next, go down the list and give a moment of your attention to each agreement. Notice whether your energy rises or falls as you consider each item. If your energy goes down, or you feel heavy or anything less than willing, put a minus sign by that commitment. Put a plus sign by the ones where you feel your energy and excitement rising. You can put in equal sign next to ones where you aren’t feeling much either way.

Now, look at all the minus signs. Those are items you are doing out of obligation or fear or duty. Those are also items you’ll be better off renegotiating, off-loading to someone else, or eliminating altogether (does anyone really have to send out another round of holiday cards?).

If you want to take things to the next level, do the same with all those ones you felt neutral about – the “meh” items. “Meh” is not a great way to live life; get rid of them.

Agreeing with Yourself

What about those agreements we make to ourselves — working out every day, updating that resume, cleaning out the basement? If we have no intention of getting around to these things — and the best indicator of that is how long it’s been since we said we’d do it and actually took action — then they, too, are draining energy and attention.

Go down your personal agreements list and consider each item: do you really want to do this? Notice if your energy rises or falls. Be brutally honest (after all, it’s you making promises to yourself). If it’s anything other than a full yes, cross it off the list. And then get honest with yourself about what you’re really committed to. (Not feeling it for that resume update? Then own the fact that you don’t really want to land that new job.)

What’s Left

Once you’ve pared down your commitments and agreements to those you genuinely want to do, chances are you’ll actually do them. Not only will you have more energy, but you will clearly see the value in accomplishing these things.

This is the power of aligning your actions with what you really want to accomplish, instead of what you think you should be doing.

PHOTO: MaxPixel

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