Let’s talk about your to-do list or rather those things that never seem to make it off your to-do list. If you are a list lover like me, everyday you make up your to-do list and then one by one, cross each item off as you complete it. Whatever doesn’t get done that day simply gets carried over to the next day.
Sometimes you find that you have tasks that no matter how many times you put them on your list, they never seem to get done. Perhaps it’s an email that you haven’t had a chance to respond to, maybe it’s an action item from a meeting that you have yet to get to, or that nagging thing you know you should do but just don’t.
The problem isn’t your habits. No amount of daily doing and mental motivation is going to make it easier for you to do it. There isn’t any advice you can seek out that is going to help you get it done because the problem is that you don’t actually want to do it. Period. End of sentence.
How did it make you feel to admit that? Did you feel a little pang of guilt or a sense of relief?
Now here’s the simple solution to the problem: DON’T. DO. IT.
Just don’t. Delete that email, hand-off the action item and just forget about the thing you think you should do. You don’t want to do it so unless it’s something that is mandated, like filing your taxes, don’t do it. There is no rule that says you have to do anything (hello, remember the reason we work for ourselves?).
Even in the case of your taxes, there is no rule that says YOU have to do it all of it yourself. Do the very minimum and then hand it off to someone else. If it doesn’t inspire/excite/energize you, stop wasting all that time and energy feeling crappy about the fact that you aren’t doing it and give yourself permission to not do it.
Chances are there is a very good reason WHY you aren’t doing it. That email? Maybe it’s yet another request that you feel obligated to respond to, but that sucks the energy right out of you. The action item? Perhaps you agreed to take it on out of guilt when you really didn’t have the time. The nagging thing? It has sat there day after day, list after list because you don’t really know how to do it.
Once you understand the reason behind the task avoidance, you can change how you do things. For example, change the email that you make available and funnel all that stuff into a hidden directory that you only review now and then. And for goodness sake, get tough with your boundaries and stop accepting tasks out of guilt. And the thing that you don’t really know how to do, find someone who does and hire them and be done with it.
You see, the carryover tasks are little messages telling you the things that drain your energy. Pay attention and if it is something that absolutely, positively has to be done by you (ahem: taxes), do it in a manner that protects your energy. Hire help and pick a day where your hatred of the task won’t spill over into your motivation to get other stuff done (and then just get it over and done with).