How to stop being busy and start getting stuff done: Simplify your to-do list to stop feeling overwhelmed and start moving towards your goals. 💃🤩💃🤩
It is easy to get overwhelmed with long to do lists, huge workloads, looking fabulous, posting something cool/ meaningful/ funny once in a while, spending quality time with family and friends, traveling, did I mention work? You get the idea; our lives are filled to the brim and often we get to the end of a crazy-busy week only to find that a couple of the most important tasks had been left behind.
This is not the best feeling. You feel defeated and as if you’re not moving forward. I know just how demotivating this can be. In fact, on a few occasions last year I became so overwhelmed that I felt paralyzed to do anything and I would spend entire afternoons watching TV while thinking about, wait for it…. my to-do list 🤦♀️.
I couldn’t snap out of it. Towards the end of that year, I realized why (and it wasn’t because I was lazy.) I was so stuck in the details that I was unable to pull myself out long enough to see the big picture. Once I did, I could prioritize, make clear decisions and my days started feeling far less hectic.
The weird thing about overwhelm is that you don’t need to be working 5 jobs to feel this way. It can creep in whether you have 3 or 500 tasks on your plate. Its less about the list, your management tools, and your work ethic and it’s all about mindset. So, no matter where you are, if you are feeling too busy and struggling to get through your tasks, try these steps to clear up space in your mind and your calendar:
Simplify, eliminate, align
Stop being busy for busy’s sake:
How many of your daily tasks actually move you forward? Really? How many are really just there to fill up the day? Don’t answer too quickly. When you have a minute, go and look at your lists from the last few days and check for the following:
- Which items actually made a difference to the next day?
- Which items took you a step closer to your big goal?
- Which items are left undone?
If you are feeling like you’re not getting through your day, you probably noticed that it’s the big important tasks (the ones that move your forward) that get left behind. Now, review your lists one more time and ask the following:
- Which items took a lot of time and felt frustrating?
- Which items were completed but had little impact?
Chance are there are a few overlaps here. These time-consuming-and-low-impact tasks are the ones you need to question. Are they worth it? Or can you drop them and never add them to another to do list ever again? If you do drop them, how much time will that give you and will that time be enough to get through the big important tasks that have been waiting for your attention?
Outsource whatever you can:
There will always be a selection of tasks that do move you forward but take too much of your time. Make a plan and align financial goals to outsourcing these tasks. When you hit a certain revenue mark, you will outsource your social media scheduling or administration. Whatever doesn’t feed your joy but must be done, must be outsourced. While it may feel scary to hand over part of our list to someone else, it will free you up to reach your goals faster and spend more time doing what you love.
Set goals – where are you going?
Another common reason for feeling overwhelmed or like you’re not getting anywhere is that you don’t have anything to measure and so it all feels like “failure.” Not ideal. Instead, think about where you want to be in 3, 6 or 12 months from now. Set one or two goals for this and then make sure that every week contains a smaller action step that moves you towards those goals.
Assign time for everything – macro and daily level
This particular perspective-shift saved me. I was constantly running, chasing the clock and believing there simply wasn’t enough time. When I stopped and took a step back, I could see time as pockets that I can fill however I want. I have larger pockets for months or weeks and smaller pockets for daily tasks. Each night I fill my time pockets for the next day. If anything is left over once the time pockets are filled, I need to make some choices about what is getting left behind.
If you have a lot of goals for the year, this is an ideal way of approaching time. You don’t need to do everything in the first month. You can assign space and time for every goal at a certain point throughout the year. This practice has made me 100% more productive with fewer items on my lists.
Simplify your tools:
When it comes to time/ project management tools, there are about 100 000 available but don’t get sucked in. Keep it simple. There is no point in spending half an hour trying to manage your time management tool. I understand if you are part of a team and everyone needs to be on the same page but keep that tool top-level. Work with people who are responsible and then choose to trust them to get the tasks done. For your daily management, use a simpler tool to track your tasks. I use the Reminders tool on Mac OS. I have a list for each project I am working on. This is where I store the full list of items associated with the project. Then I have a Today list. Here I drag ONLY what needs to happen today. Nothing else. As its done, I mark it complete and I never see it again. At the end of the day, I run through my projects and fill the Today list for tomorrow. It’s not groundbreaking and that’s why it works.
Make conscious choices:
Consider for a moment that whatever you are doing at any given moment is using time. If its something that adds value to your life, then its time well spent. If not, what could you be doing instead? Spend your time surrounding yourself with work, activities, people and social situations that bring joy and add value to your world.
Now, I realize I’ve just gone and added a bunch of organizing tasks to your already overflowing cup. Don’t worry, no need to get it all done today. Your next right move is to take 15minutes today to simplify and re-prioritize your week. (Just this one, that you’re in right now.) As part of this week’s list, assign 1 hour to do the same for the next 3 months.
Simple right? Haha 😜! Even with all of these tools, sometimes we lose control, all the balls drop, and we start to spiral. When that does happen, and you start to feel yourself losing grip, STOP. Right there, where you are, just stop. Take a few deep breaths and then ask yourself: Is this helping or hurting me? Chances aren’t great it’s helping, right? From that place of clarity and space, ask yourself: What’s the next right move? Every time you practice this quick tip, you condition your brain, training it to notice these feelings sooner next time. Soon, you’ll be able to notice those familiar feelings very early on. This means you can stop earlier, recover faster, and get on with living your fab life without skipping a beat. 💃💃💃 No need to get to the breakdown.
Finding the right balance is not one size fits all. Your priorities are different from mine and from your friends. Finding balance is about knowing who you are, what you want and what you are willing to do to get there. When you get that ratio right, work won’t feel like work, it will feel like purpose and quality time won’t feel like you’re cheating on your business, but much required rest. There is time for everything you want to do, you simply need to be bold enough to make conscious choices for what you really want to include in your life.
Author, Annie Dillard said, ‘How we spend our days, is of course, how we spend our lives.’ With that in mind, how are you spending today?
Post a comment here or tag me on Instagram @bloomhabits with your new and improved to-do lists. Let me when you’ve cleared all your tasks for the day and you’re going for a manicure to spoil yourself. I want to celebrate with you!! 🤩👑🙌
Live happy, be happy. Live a life you love. 💜💜💜
Simply chasing your dreams or only priming ourselves to receive isn’t enough. We must work on both, growing ourselves while, simultaneously, taking action on the steps that bring us closer to our goals.
Why is this push and pull so vital? Well, it’s tricky chasing something you’re not really ready for. This is where “living as if” comes in. “Living as if” is a mindset that says: “As you grow, you grow closer to your goals and, as you grow, you become ready to receive them.”
“Living as if,” however, is not simply buying material things outside of your means. Rather, the principal asks how you can get more of that feeling now with the resources you have available today. How can you move, even an inch, closer to your dream, using the tools, savvy and creativity you already have?
So please don’t go out and buy an expensive handbag you can’t afford or max out your credit card on social events because glamour is “your truth” and you want to show how ready you are to live that lux life. That’s not it at all.
What the heck is it about then? Well, how about asking yourself why you want those things. What will it give you to have these things? What value will the bring to your life?
The answer can be anything. It will resonate with you on a deep level. If we continue with the above example, you might find that what you are really seeking is glamour, social or professional status, comfort or even credibility.
The next step is to ask how you can get more of those feelings today? What can make you feel more glamorous, comfortable or credible today? Using the resources available to you, and without stretching yourself too far, what can you do right now, today, this week?
Do you see how it’s not at all about the THINGS, nor about being Instagram-perfect It’s about activating a feeling of glamour (or whatever you are seeking) and welcoming it in.
Kind of like when you’re first learning a new skill or concept. Days, maybe weeks or months go by and you just don’t understand it. You keep trying, learning more, practicing and then one day you suddenly get it. This new level of understanding opens doors and clears pathways and widens your perspective.
The only difference here is that you are practicing a feeling. If you want to feel more glamorous, do things that make you feel that way. Paint your nails and always look polished when you walk out the door. Take pride in your outfits, they don’t have to be designer to look fabulous. What else? How would you carry yourself, talk to others and move through your life as a slightly more glamorous version of who you already are?
There are a ton of things you can do today that facilitate the feeling you’re after. It is by practicing these feelings that they become easier, more accessible and you become ready for more. So, draw a mind map and list as many as you can. I bet you’ll find more than you expected.
Before you know it, you will be stepping into your dream life as your next-level self. You will be ready to own that space because you will have been preparing for it all along.
Many of us are compulsive goal setters. We set targets and furiously chase them down until we lose steam and casually let them fall away. Just think about every new year’s resolution that didn’t make it past January.
But why do we fall short? Why don’t we reach the goals we set? Is it that we’re weak or simply unmotivated? Nope, that’s not it at all. Most of the time, we fail to reach the goals we set because they lack connection and reason. In other words, it’s not about the goal at all and all about why you want to achieve it.
A goal or dream is something you have not obtained yet. It lives just outside your grasp and current emotional means. The way you think, operate and see the world might not be aligned with what is required for you to achieve the goal.
In order to bridge this gap, you need a powerful driving force for this goal. You need a reason to persevere and overcome all the obstacles that lie in your path.
You need a WHY
I am not alone in this thinking. Many other coaches, speakers, and highly successful business minds say the same thing. The concept is that when you understand why you are doing something and that “why” is meaningful and aligned with your values, you will move heaven and earth to get make it happen.
If not, the goal will feature with low importance in your brain and inevitably fizzle away. #anothernewyearsresolution
Is this really for me?
Another reason to develop a “Why” is to clarify whether you truly want something in the first place.
You know that feeling when your best friend gets something new and shiny and suddenly you crave it as if this is clearly the thing that has been missing from your life all along. It can be that she is pregnant or has a new baby. Perhaps you’re the one at home with the kids and she gets a promotion or decides to go on an impromptu trip. Whatever it is, you see something you don’t have, and you want it. This is an excellent moment to ask yourself, “Why?”
Why do you want a baby right now? Why do you want to go to Thailand? Why do you wish you had a big career? Consider what your life would look like if you achieved this goal: do you like this picture? What will you be giving up by achieving this goal? Do you still want it?
Often, you will find that you don’t want it at all, or you’ll see that right now is just not the right time. If you’re here, congratulations! You’ve just achieved massive clarity and now, have an immense opportunity to stop searching for answers around you and start looking inward to find the dream you are really after.
Finding your true dream
There are a number of exercises and meditations which I will be sharing over the next few weeks, but it is important to understand that it’s not something you do just once. It takes practice to let go of your comparative goals and embrace what you truly want for your life.
A couple of years ago, I was very unhappy. I was looking around at my friends, people I went to school with and anyone else I met and viewed some part of their world as better than mine. I felt stuck, as if my life was going nowhere and I was blaming my husband, expecting him to make all my dreams come true. I went on a quest to “find myself” and discovered that I had no idea what I wanted or who I was. This was a huge moment for me. It gave me crystal clear clarity about my life and how I had been moving through on auto-pilot. I decided to become active in my life.
I started by defining my vision. What was it that I truly wanted? My first vision meditation gave me a blurry but honest picture. There were a few things I wasn’t sure about, but I kept going back and slowly but surely the picture became clearer and brighter
So, what do you truly want for your career, your family, fun, romance and every other area of your life? Write it down. Look at this vision and, no matter how blurry it might be at first, ask yourself, “Why do I want that?” Be honest and clear. What will this goal this give you and what will it cost you? These questions will clarify your vision and reveal your true goals.
If your goals are aligned with your path, you will find synergy and almost no reasons not to follow them. In addition, you will discover a driving force that propels you towards your dream every day. Defining your “Why” when setting new goals shifts your perspective as you are no longer chasing something out of your reach. Instead, you are consciously living in a way that leads you towards your biggest dreams.
How to step into the shoes of the woman you want to be.
A lot of our lives are spent chasing goals. We chase a dream that will launch us into the life we were meant to live. Almost as often, we fall short and wonder why we can’t reach that new level.
The truth is that a next-level goal requires a next-level you. While the “you” of today is equipped to overcome the challenges you currently face, you will need a new version of the magic you already are to reach higher and grab the bigger reward.
This isn’t a revolutionary idea. Even as children, each year of your schooling is partly designed to prepare you for the next. Without learning the skills and opening your mind to a wider way of thinking, you would not be able to understand the concepts and develop the skills of the year to follow.
Similarly, I invite you to take a minute and look to the future. Think about the life you envision for yourself – the life you dream of. Where are you? In your office on top of a skyscraper? With your family, sailing across the seas? What do you see around you? A team of people; perhaps you notice a heightened sense of luxury?
Look at yourself. Notice what you’re wearing, your hairstyle, your demeanor and how you interact with those around you. Do you see a familiar you or do you see the woman you want to become?
My guess is that almost every part of you is a little more “next-level.” Everything about you is slightly nicer or liberated. The people around you are captivated, and in this vision, you are where you most want to be.
The common belief is that when we achieve our goals, this person will emerge from the cocoon of our former selves. That if we work hard and keep going we will become this next-level woman. This, however, is not quite the case. In fact, the opposite is true: It is when we embrace our next-level self and live as if we are already there, that our dreams move closer to us.
I am not saying that you should go buy a Ferrari before you can afford it. It is not about portraying a false sense of achievement. It is about cultivating a feeling of success, determination and everything else that embodies your next-level self.
Here are 4 questions to help you get closer to your next-level self:
What can you let go of?
What would this next-level you no longer tolerate? Do an audit of your life. Look at the physical and emotional space and do your best to let go of the things, people, activities, obligations, and expectations that no longer serve you. Clear through it all, only keeping the things that will be joining you on this next-level journey.
How can you get more of that feeling?
When you look at your next-level self in your vision, notice how she feels, how she conducts herself. What are these traits and attitudes and how can you bring more of that into your world? You might notice a sense of confidence you don’t have right now. While it can be scary at first, I invite you to practice expressing this confidence in your everyday life. No need to jump in head first, start in the smallest, safest way and grow from there. ** So, you don’t need to buy a Ferrari, but if its available to you, go for a test drive and feel it.**
Are you living your next-level life right now?:
Setting reminders that help you stay in the mode of your next-level self can be very powerful. It’s easy to get lost in the day-to-day of it all and simply being reminded that you are a badass bitch just after lunch, can jumpstart your afternoon. So place a memento on your desk, create a vision board, set affirmation reminders and deck out computer and phone wallpapers with anything that gives you a boost and feels true to your next-level self.
What are you feeding your mind?
Develop a practice of gaining knowledge and inspiration from women that your next-level self would see as mentors (or even as peers). Expand your reading list, follow groups and maybe subscribe to a podcast.
Become unapologetic about becoming your next-level self:
This is not an easy exercise. It will take determination to break through to your next level. You will need to do things differently, respond differently to situations and maybe even cut certain people and activities from your life. Become fearless and unapologetic in taking charge of your life.
Define your next-level self and develop practices to live as if. Allow yourself to practice being the best version of yourself and before you know it, you will fully step into the woman you know you can be.
Moving through life as your next-level self (with her attitude, perspective, and poise) will reframe your life. Everyday situations, will present new opportunities and previously mundane tasks are now outsourced or completely removed as you make space for the items that matter and move you forward.
You are living as if you have your dream life. Operating now as you must when you achieve your vision. It is by being consistent in this practice that you will become and achieve your next level.
Lean into your journey without the pressure of comparing yourself to others.
To end off the month of “Owning your space,” I’d like to talk about comparison. Comparison is a sneaky and very dangerous ego trick that makes us feel less than, confused about our path and generally not far enough along. Kind of difficult to “own your space” if you’re feeling this disconnected from it.
When we compare ourselves to others and their journey, we automatically disconnect from our own. We step out of our space and into theirs. While their space might be great for them, we don’t belong there, and immediately feel out of the loop. As if there’s an inside joke that we don’t get or a puzzle we can’t solve.
At this point, we attempt to fix this feeling by desperately trying to be more like the person we are comparing ourselves against. We throw out the work we’ve done and follow their strategy, buy clothes they would wear, maybe even adopt their mannerisms and sometimes make massive life decisions trying to compete in their world. The really sad part is that even with all of this effort, we don’t feel any better and we’re no closer to our goals and it’s because of one simple truth:
This is their space, their path, their journey, not yours and the longer you stay, the more you lose yourself.
We are not meant to compare and gauge our “success” against others because it’s not a competition. It actually cannot be a competition because there is no true metric for “success.” Think about it. How would we know who is winning when we all view success as a unique combination of wealth, material gains, relationships, experiences, love etc? Instead, we should take all that energy and invest in our own space and dedicate it to our own journeys.
But how do we do let go of constant comparison?
- Stop chasing the success party
Many of us subscribe to the idea that life is a race. That we need to be chasing professional and personal success. The truth is there is no race because there is no finish line. There is no success party that you get invited to when you “make it.” So, relax, take the pressure off. If you notice someone who is closer to a shared goal, remember that they don’t get points for being there first and you don’t lose anything for being second (or even tenth.)
If you do see someone reaching a shared goal before you, don’t feel jealous or upset. Rather, take a moment to see this as proof that your goal can be achieved. This is fantastic news. Be grateful for the sign, happy for their good fortune and excited about your journey. #letthatshitgo
- Stay focused on what you are doing
You know that moment when your friend with the amazing bone structure gets bangs and you start thinking, “Wow, she looks incredible. Maybe I should get bangs?” Almost instantly your current hairstyle looks boring, outdated and in serious need of some bangs. You also somehow forget about the last time you went down this road and how much bangs did not work for you. Hopefully, at this point, another friend stops you and reminds you that bangs are not for everyone and that your hair looks fabulous already.
Similarly, when you compare your life to that of someone else, you tend to notice the things you don’t have in yours. For example, your friend has a baby and you start thinking about names for your own imaginary children. Another goes on a trip overseas and you long for freedom. At times, these can be prompts that reveal a deeper desire, but mostly they distract you from your own goals and what you are working towards.
You get sucked into another person’s world and look back at yours to see empty spaces. Suddenly, you lose sight of all you’ve achieved, the goals you’re working towards and what you’re left with is a hollow feeling of lack.
The good news is that the cure is simple: shift your focus. Bring your attention inward, to your own path and the vision you hold for your life. Next time, you get triggered by a peer getting promoted, achieving a massive milestone you are both working towards or Sharon’s new pixie cut, try this to stay connected to your space:
Do you really want this thing? Will it serve you towards achieving your vision? You might easily be able to say, “Hell no! I’m good,” and move forward. Other times it won’t be so clear. You want it, but not right now or not quite like this. If that’s the case, I invite you to trust in your journey. Remember your goals, your vision and bring your focus inward. Should this thing be right for you, you will find a way to include it.
Owning your space fully and confidently means knowing your space. Knowing and trusting in your guidance and the choices you make towards your vision. Share in the joy and success of others, while keeping your focus on your own path. Let go of what everyone else is doing, let go of the pressure and the fear and trust your inner guidance to lead you towards your biggest dreams.
This month is all about owning your space. That means we need to talk about leaning into your desires, your calling and what you most want from life. Your dream might be to live as a digital nomad for a couple of years. To travel and have adventures. Great right? Well, the tricky thing is that your brain doesn’t see this as a simple win-win situation. It worries about you and can cause some very weird feelings and doubts around your dream.
You’ll find yourself worrying about whether your family will approve. You know they want you to settle and be stable and before you know it, you’ve talked yourself out of the travelling altogether.
Sound familiar? This might not be your exact situation, but I’m sure you recognize the pattern. We all have Fear or “ego” that blocks us from trying new things or moving forward with our business or hitting our next life milestone. We give into the anxiety, guilt and shame of what might go wrong, and we lose sight of what we were chasing in the first place. We choose to stay safe in our comfort zone because we convince ourselves that it is enough, that we’re satisfied and even happy.
Of course, this is rarely the result of staying put. It is when you leap forward, take a chance and actively pursue what you love that you find joy. In fact, you could say that a big difference between happy and unhappy people, is that the happy ones follow the love. They see the fear and go for it anyway. Despite all the worry, they choose to focus on the reward, the joy, the love.
But how on earth do they do that? Fear can be incredibly convincing, I know. It can make you believe the worst of others and even of your own abilities. For this reason, “the ego” has a petty bad rap. It is branded as the devil on your shoulder, a mean-spirited little guy that wants to hold you back from everything. I don’t buy it. There is a slightly more open concept that the only thing the ego knows is fear and it is simply trying to protect you from harm. It is like an over-protective grandma that would rather keep you in a bubble than risk something happening to you.
It doesn’t want you to risk falling in love because your heart might break again; or travel, because you’ll miss out on everything happening at home; or change careers, because it might not work out. It is even afraid of success. Yup, “success” is a big no-no for the ego. If you become successful, you would have to risk being seen, you might have more money than your friends, you might even meet people that operate on a level above you, you could become a mean person, lose your marriage, never see your kids… You get the idea…
We all have our own special cocktail of fears around success and while they make you feel guilty or ashamed or scared, it is not the ego’s intention to hurt you. It just the only way it knows how to keep you safe.
Accepting this truth was personal turning point for me. I faced my fearful ego and recognized it as the most vulnerable part of myself. In that moment I could stop fighting, stop resisting and attempt to quiet that inner voice. (All the resisting was only making it louder.) Instead I could see it with love, honour the fear and then simply let it go.
Let me break that down for you.
When I notice that familiar feeling start to creep up, I ask myself, “Hey, what’s that about? What are you trying to show me?” Sometimes, simply asking this question in my head is enough to get an instant answer, other times I meditate and free write to reveal the deeper truth behind the fear.
Either way, once I see the deeper truth (the reason for the fear feeling), I can also see it’s innocent and unknowing intention. Almost instantly, that fear feeling becomes small and manageable. I can look it straight in the eye and say, “Appreciate the heads up, but I got this.”
Asking, “What are you trying to show me?” allows you to gain perspective, accept the protective intention behind the fear and soothe it, rather than fight it. You do not stop seeing the danger, but the reward/ goal stays in focus. You can feel grateful for, and accept, the warning. You know what you’re capable of and that you will be able to endure if the worst happens.
As you practice this, you will detect your fearful voice in its early stages, allowing you to move on faster and take bigger and bigger leaps towards your goals. This is how you lean into love, how to follow the joy.
So, accept your fear as your overly-cautious grandma and you’ll learn to look it straight in the eye, see the danger and go for it anyway. Not because you’re going against it (yourself), but because you know you’re strong enough to make it.