Along with the spirit of two previous posts, Resetting Your Bullshit Detector, Clearing Your Desk, perhaps we should consider clearing your mind …
Background anxiety and stress usually result from coping with the unknown, changes from your comfort zone. And, nothing appears to generate more anxiety and stress that knowing that we have not met our own expectations, forgot some critical event, or simply have a mind filled with things to do.
Two things come to mind: one, it is possible to off-load much of your mind’s burden to a piece of paper, and two, you will automatically and effortlessly prioritize the list by doing exactly what you want to do, when you want to do it, and it a way that suits you – finding excuses and rationalizations for leaving the rest behind.
Much like the previous advice about clearing your desk by placing things in a box, you can offload the burden on your mind by doing the same thing with a combination calendar and to-do list.
- Write down everything you need to do in the future or remains undone from past expectations or commitments.
- Prioritize these items by their effect on your life and the probable results of completing the task. This prioritization should be considered in light of personal, familial, financial, and social obligations.
- Now that everything is written down, leaving you with a relatively clear mind, concentrate on how you want to feel right now, not tomorrow.
- Ignore step two. No matter how you prioritize or re-prioritize the list, you still will not get it right. You will continue to do those activities that you feel are important to you and find excuses for not doing the activities you do not want to do.
- If a small action now, like removing a piece of clutter, can prevent the anxiety and stress of a bigger job later, like cleaning the whole house, don’t think about it or make it a part of a bigger task to be done later, take the small action now and go on to bigger and better things.
Bottom line …
You do not need a fancy planner/organizer or electronic device to track your desires and commitments. In fact, the effort used to use and maintain these tools is often just another form of expensive procrastination and distraction to make yourself feel “in control” and organized.
What you need to do is to reorient your thinking from tasks, sub-tasks, and sub-sub-tasks, to preferred outcomes. By concentrating on the outcome, you can simply, easily, and quickly prioritize every item on your list by asking yourself one simple question: does this action get me closer to my goal or does this action keep me in my comfort zone? Then choose the path that provides the most reward in relation to the effort and pain.
Of course, making hard choices when it comes to family, friends, and work can be handled much in the same manner. The most useful technique in these situations is learning how to say “NO” gracefully and in a manner that does not damage your personal relationships. Rather than obsessing over the details of preparing for an event that provides little or no momentum toward one of your desired outcomes, simply state that you are unable to attend. If pressed, simply fall back on “personal reasons” without feeling guilt or the need to provide an explanation.
Try this scheme out for a while and see if it works for you. If it doesn’t, you can always revert back to your previous behavior.
"The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." -- Marcus Aurelius