To do lists are useful, they hold you accountable and it’s super satisfying when you get to tick things off. But a to do list is never done. It eats up your time and reminds you of all that you haven’t yet done. So I have an alternative to suggest.
In this episode I share:
Pressing Pause Episode 105 The alternative to do list
Welcome to Pressing Pause, I’m your host, Gabrielle Treanor, a coach, writer, introvert and sensitive soul with an inclination to ponder over the stuff of life. Join me as I explore how we can create, find and feel more calm, ease and joy in our daily lives.
What would you do if you had more time? Would you read more? Take up a new hobby, get back to the craft you used to love before you got too busy? Would you learn a new language, a new skill? Would you look for a new job, or even start a new business? Would you hang out with your friends, have them over for dinner and just enjoy their company? Would you smell the roses, listen to the birds, rest and enjoy the space?
How would you feel if you had more time? Would you be less stressed, would your shoulders drop a few inches and the knots in your muscles loosen? Would you feel more relaxed, be more easy going, laugh more, feel lighter, feel free?
Our society tells us that we need to be doing more, striving for more, giving more, it glorifies busyness and tricks you into believing your worth, who you are, is directly connected to how productive you are. And that takes up your time, your energy, your brain space, your creativity, your enjoyment of life.
But you were not put on this planet purely to uphold the patriarchal, capitalist structure of our society. You are here to thrive, to make the difference you want, to love, to spend the time you have in your one wild and precious life in ways that feel nourishing, rewarding, authentic, powerful, uplifting to you.
And you will discover how you can do precisely that, how you can have more time and feel calmer and happier too, in my new course, Spacious.
With this course you will save the energy you spend on trying to get on top of things and keeping up. You’ll lose the frustration you feel from not reaching the end of your to do list. You’ll let go of the resentment you feel from having to do all the things for other people. You’ll ditch the stress from trying to find more hours in the day when you’re non-stop already.
And what you’ll get is a calmer, happier you where you’re in charge of how you manage your time, how you think and feel about time, how you deal with drains on your time and how you claim the time you need and want and deserve for yourself.
Spacious the course is open for registration now and we begin on 1 August. And if you’re thinking you don’t have enough time to take a course on having more time I hear you! I’ve designed the course so that it won’t be yet another thing on your to do list, it won’t overwhelm and it will have a real, practical, powerful and positive impact on your quality of life.
So, go to gabrielletreanor.com/spacious to find out more about the course and to register your place. It’s going to be transformative and I’d love for you to join me.
Okay then, now on with the episode!
Welcome to episode 105. I don’t know about you but I have a complicated relationship with my to do list. On one hand I love a list – it means I don’t have to try to keep everything in my head and ticking items off as they’re completed gives me a welcome sense of accomplishment.
However. My to do list is never done. No-one’s to do list is ever done, even if what you have written down is all ticked off you know there’s more that’s unwritten.
And depending on how the tasks are listed it may be impossible to tick off something for countless days. For example ‘send emails’ is a task that will never be completely finished, whereas ‘send email to Lucy’ is finite and tickable.
I’m also aware that my to do list keeps me in productive mode. Yes, there is a need to be productive (if I don’t produce in my solo business there’s no-one else to do it) BUT if I judge the quality of my day by the quantity of my output I’m setting myself up to fail. Especially if the only things on my to do list are work-related. I’m going to repeat that: if you judge the quality of your day by the quantity of your output, you’re setting yourself up to fail.
So, I’ve been trying something different and, I’m liking it a LOT.
I’ve known for a long time about the idea of writing a Done or a Ta Da list where you record all the things you’ve done at the end of a day. I’ve even discussed it with coaching clients. I’ve dabbled with the idea in the past but I decided to commit to it (with a tweak), as an experiment, for two weeks.
I spoke in episode 103 about the value of experimenting – giving something a try for a specific period of time, seeing how it goes and deciding from there if or how you want to continue with it. I’ve written about it in the emails I send to my subscribers, and it often comes up with my coaching clients because it’s something that I find can be incredibly helpful, particularly if you want to try doing things differently but the actual doing can feel overwhelming.
The thing about committing to a limited timeframe is that it gives you accountability – you’ve told yourself or someone else you’re going to show up in this way – and it takes off the pressure because you’re not saying you’ll do it forever.
You have an end date where you can review how it worked for you and how it felt (your data) and decide your next step. Which could be keeping going as you are, tweaking and continuing, or letting it go and moving on!
I write and add to my Whole Life Done list, as I call it, during the day (it’s too easy to forget what you did in the morning by the end of the day) and yes, they are laden with work-related tasks because, unsurprisingly, that’s what I spend most of my week days doing.
However, and this is where the Whole Life part comes in, I write down so much more than just work tasks. For example, my Whole Life Done lists have included:
The list goes on but you get my drift.
What you choose to include on your Whole Life Done list is up to you. There’s no-one to tell you what counts or what’s ‘good enough’ to be written down – if it’s something you did and you want to include it, then add it to the list!
So what’s the point of this you might be asking?
Well, it does appease the conditioned part of my brain that needs to feel productive but that’s only part of it.
The Whole Life Done list helps me to keep a more rounded perspective of my life – it’s not just about how much work I accomplish it’s my whole life. It shows me that my day (our lives are made up of our days, after all) has moments of self-conservation, connection, curiosity, calm and joy. It illustrates how I’m acting in keeping with my values, my nature.
By listing the range of what I do in a day I can see how I’ve spent time doing what helps me to be healthy, what strengthens my relationships, what gives me calm, what gives me joy, what Future Me will be thankful for.
Or not. Because if I look over my Whole Life Done list and it’s lacking those kinds of actions that’s valuable information too. It shows me where I may be neglecting my own needs or desires, how I may be out of kilter with my natural self and, depending on how I’m feeling, it may offer an explanation too.
Writing a Whole Life Done list may sound like too simple a thing to really make much of a difference. But, as is often the case, it’s the small, simple, unshiny and non-shouty actions that have an impact.
Science writer Winifred Gallagher wrote, “Who you are, what you think, feel, and do, what you love – is the sum of what you focus on.” And I agree.
So if you only focus on what you deem to have been ‘productive’, if that’s how you judge the value of your day (or yourself) your thinking and feeling is going to be through that lens. And while tying our self-worth to our productivity, our busyness, is absolutely something we’ve been conditioned to do by our capitalist society it is NOT going to give you calm and joy.
So what do you think? Fancy joining me and experimenting with writing your own Whole Life Done lists?
Thank you for listening to Pressing Pause, you can find details of what I shared in this episode in the show notes at gabrielletreanor.com/podcast.
And as I mentioned at the start my new course, Spacious – how to have more time, and feel calmer and happier too, is open now for registration. If you want to feel at peace with the number of hours in the day instead of always wishing you had more, if you want to drop the juggling the act, the striving to get on top of things and the trying to keep up. If you want to feel free, light, expansive, at ease and a sense of rootedness in your day, Spacious is the course for you.
Just go to gabrielletreanor.com/spacious to find out all about how you can have more time, and feel calmer and happier too and you can register your place there. The link is in the show notes too.
If you have a question about Spacious or if you want to message me about the podcast feel free to drop me a line at [email protected]
Thanks again for listening, until next time.
Throughout this website and my work when I refer to women I include people identifying as women.
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