It’s ramping up to be the Holiday Season. Thanksgiving is coming, it’s NaNoWriMo, and soon it will be the Winter Holidays. Busy much?
Usually I talk about how to get out of the boxes of life. Today, I want to talk about how to use them.
Many times when we’re trying to figure out how to Do All the Things, we get stuck in list mania. We create list after list after list until we burn them all on a pyre of Too Many Things.
Melodramatic, I know. But true.
So what to do?
Try it with me. Take a full-sized sheet of paper (oh, come now, of course you have paper – raid the printer, the back of a bill, or borrow from your kids’ school supplies) and draw a line down the middle from top to bottom. Then draw a line across the middle from left to right. This makes four boxes.
Now comes the hard part. Pick four topics. Only four, and make them as inclusive as possible. Here, I’ll start:
- Kids’ stuff (school, after school, carpooling, whatever)
- Family (this is for people not living with you, either friends or family members in other places or down the street)
That’s one example. Here’s another one:
- Exercise and eating well
- Family and Friends
- Homemaking (housework, meals, etc.)
Pro-Tip: Think “Vital,” not just “Urgent”
Stephen Covey describes “urgencies” as a ringing phone: something that demands our immediate attention but that may, or may not, be important to us. “Vital” are the things that we want to make sure we do before we die: write a book, travel to Paris, spend time with ____, go to spiritual services regularly, go on retreat, etc. etc. They don’t come with a ringing alarm bell, and they are easy to push aside when the urgencies come calling. The urge to write that book gets buried under carpool schedules and dinner preparation and work demands. The savings for going on the dream trip get spent on expensive lattes and junk fast food or, worse, necessities because we have to tighten our belts due to layoffs or underemployment.
The Vital won’t get done if it doesn’t even make it on the list.
So use the box technique to think outside of the box. If you have a vital something that hasn’t made it onto the “done” list this week, why not try today? Trust that now is the time, this is the week, and we’re not gonna wait another minute. It doesn’t have to be the only thing we do this week, to the exclusion of all else. Any dream can come to fruition with baby steps. Paris can be visited with a guide book – so get one at the library this afternoon. A book can be written in 30 minute increments – so shut off the internet and write a letter to yourself about the book you want to write. If you have children under 18 at home, why not include them in this process? Have them hold you accountable for working on your vital list between now and next weekend. Imagine the progress that might happen then?
So, what’s on YOUR list?