To do lists are everywhere. Everyone seems to have one. There are new to do list applications launched daily on iTunes and for other digital devices. Some people carry a to do list creator with them wherever they go. These range from back of the napkin to fancy gadgets designed to get you organized with a to do list. The major problem with a to do list is that it is self perpetuating. A to do list never ends. The ultimate outcome of keeping to do lists is they exhaust us and drain the passion and purpose from our lives. So you ask, what the heck am I supposed "to do" if I don't have the security of my to do list? The answer is simple. It was never about creating a to do list. A to do list is a vehicle that drives you towards achieving a particular goal.
Yet for some unknown reason, at least consciously unknown, we often times manage to forget about our goals, complain that there isn't enough time in the day "to do" all the things we want to get done and for many end up like hamsters spinning around on a wheel to nowhere. The challenge is we confuse movement with progress. We become addicted to our to do list because it gives us a sense of certainty and a sense that we are in control of our lives. The fact is to do lists undermine the very foundation that we believe they create. To do lists rarely will get us to where we want to go. The only way to get to where you want to go is to first forget about your to do list. Well sort of. Here's the step to get out of to do list mania. For many it is a mania as we buy to do list planner after to do list planner in the hope that somehow the new tool will give us more time. Yet we know there is more time. Many people spend more time from their lives figuring out what to do list to buy as buying a new to do list organizer is the panacea.
Bottom line is that to do lists are simply a means to an ends. Certainly reminders of appointments that come with many applications today are valuable tools. Moreover "to doing" a meeting is a valuable thing to do. There is nothing inherently wrong with to dos. There is a methodology that if you use it you will achieve more in any area of your life than you have ever achieved by writing a to do list. In fact it is much easier than any to do list. It is a way of thinking. A process that if you think about it you have used every single time you have ever achieved something that you desired. What did you do? Think about what process you went through anytime you achieved something.
Did you start off with your to do list? Probably not. If you have achieved anything of meaning you probably first focused on what it is you wanted to achieve. You asked yourself the question what do I really want? You focused on the end first. Didn't you?
By getting real clarity on what you wanted you set forth a target that you could aim for. The more clarity you had about the target the higher your chances of hitting it. If you didn't have a target then you were playing pin the tail on the donkey. There is no way to hit a target, or at least it it highly unlikely that you will, if you don't know what the target is.
The next thing you did whether you were consciously aware of it or nor was figure out your motive for the goal. You asked yourself why do I want this in my life? You may have imagined what it would be like to receive the promotion, have a better relationship with a particular person, plan the wedding, lose the 50 pounds by the summer, find your soul-mate or whatever it is that you desired. The real key was that you attached meaning to the target. The meaning created an emotional charge inside of you that caused your brain (and you) to truly desire the achievement because you understood at your core what it would mean to you. The more you associated with the what it would mean to you the higher the likelihood was that you were going to achieve what you set forth.
If you had no reasons for wanting to achieve the goal you would never have started. Or perhaps you may out of guilt or some other emotion taken a step or two. However, the more reasons you had for wanting something and the more meaningful they were the higher you chance was that you would get it. There was no to do list involved. At some point you just knew you were going to achieve that goal you wanted.
To accomplish anything, whether it is to lose weight or get a new job, as examples, writing down a to do list without knowing why you want these things is not going to get you anywhere or anything except perhaps a headache and frustration as you look at your to do list that, that has not meaning to it. Perhaps you check off an item or two and don't follow through. This leads to a self-perpetuating cycle of failure as you know start saying things to yourself such as why can I never get what I want or I am such a loser.
There is another way. That way is to break out of "to do list hell." Instead of starting with a to do list figure out exactly what you want to achieve in a particular area of your life. Think of it. Write it down. Create a crystal clear image of the goal you want. Next, ask yourself what will it means to you to achieve this particular goal? Or perhaps what it will mean if you don't do it. Only your reasons will cause you to act confidently and in the direction of your goals and dreams. The reasons why are the power that will drive you towards your goals even in those times when you don't really feel like doing something.
Once you know what it is you want and then why you want it you are ready to start planning how you will achieve it. Here is where a list is used. You certainly want a list. Though call it an action list instead of a to do list or perhaps a menu of choices. It isn't a matter of "to doing" your to do list. Remember, the only thing that truly matters here is achieving your specific goals.
So instead of using a to do list brainstorm everything and anything that will get you to your goal. Write everything down because it is never a matter of doing everything you write down. The only thing that matters is getting your accomplishment and having your dreams come true.
You still need to capture all the possible ways of achieving what you want. Though make it fun. Brainstorm anything and everything that can get you to your goal. Anytime you have another idea write it down. Make the list as long as you can. The more choices you have the better as it gives you more ways to get to your goal.
Next take a look at your list and find all the items that relate to your one particular goal. Write them down next to the goal. You may also want to include a photo or the reasons why this goal is important to you.
The final step is to ask yourself what items are the most important for me to do on this list? Out of all these "to dos" what items are the 3 or 4 that if I just do these I will more than likely hit my target? Circle those items and focus on them.
Finally it's important to block out time during your day to focus on the 3 or 4 items. If after completing those items you still have not hit your goal, then look at your list as a menu of choices. Figure out what more you need to to do accomplish the goal. Remind yourself why it's important. Next pick from your menu a few more items that will have the most impact. It may be that one item on your list gets you 80% towards your goal. Using this method will eliminate a huge amount of stress from your life. You will no longer feel overwhelmed by a massive, unorganized to do list.
The reason for this is you do not have to worry about getting everything on your to do list done. You only do the most important things. You allocate time to doing those things. You know why you want to do them. By following this method you will get off the "hamster wheel" and achieve things faster and more easily than you ever dreamed possible.
The method above is based off of Anthony Robbins RPM Methodology a way to increase the time you have in your life to do the things that you really want to do.