"I make lists at night, but have no clear idea what to do with them."
Dedicated to those of us who have trouble falling asleep at night because we keep thinking of things to add to our to-do list. That shit can get real overwhelming, real quick. It's easy for that list to get longer without anything on it actually getting done.
We're going to chat about how your Clever Brain can use your to-do list to keep you stuck, instead of helping you get things done. When Clever Brain is running your to-do list, you end up being busy and exhausted without feeling like you're really getting anything meaningful done. I'll share how you can take back control of your lists, as well as the to-do list system that I've created for myself. #progresscoaching
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My Dears: This is what we’re talking about today. We’re talking about how to get control over your to-do list, moving from all of these things that you have written down and endless lists of “all of the things” that you have to do and how you can then move forward and take next right steps that are going to have the kind of impact that you want, so that you can feel proud. You can feel accomplished. You can feel like you’re getting shit done and adulating well! So that is what’s going on today!
Today is one of those days when so many things are happening and my schedule’s just been back-to-back-to-back. So we are jumping in. I haven’t even put my contacts in. I did shower, so that’s a win!
But these are the kinds of days we have, right? This is life. It is busy. And things move quickly.
Especially if you are an over-achiever type, who is very responsible, who is generous, who likes to help people. It’s really, really important that you are able to choose your next right steps carefully so that you can feel like you’re actually getting things done vs. just feeling really busy.
Initially, the inspiration for today’s chat came from a wonderful Mapper, client of mine, who talks about how she would be trying to go to sleep at night and just be having these to-do lists sort of running through her head and wanting to just keep adding to them, and adding to them. Which—I think a lot of us can understand, right?
If that is something that you totally relate to, please comment and add an “amen” there because that is something that I think a lot of us do.
Pardon me, I’m just remembering that there was something I wanted to graaaaaaab. Where do you goooooo? Totally is one of those days, guys.
Uh, I was going to share with you…which apparently is mysteriously. OK, guys. This is live. And it’s real. So gimme one second. (Awkward pause where I go rooting around for the thing I’m looking for. Thanks for sticking with me. My dog is so confused as to what I’m doing). Stand by!
(There I am looking underneath my comforter to find my book that got tossed with it. It’s laundry day y’all.) Yesssssss!
Awesome. K. That was real-life happening. It’s not quite as (indiscernible awkward moment when I realize that) I am backwards, hold on! (Sigh). There we go. A real-life example of winning ugly!
I realize that this—THIS is one of my favorite tools for dealing with those late-night to-do lists. It’s a book that I just keep nearby and it’s what I use to jot down any of those ideas. When it’s at night, I have this pen that lights up. It has a LED tip and I will of course include the link to this pen in the comments. But it’s really, really helpful.
You guys, I’m so winded from just looking for that book! Good LORRRD! Really helpful for jotting down those ideas. Because from a practical standpoint, when you have just this onslaught of things that you need to do, it can be easily overwhelming and feel like there’s not enough time, right? How are you going to get everything done?
So, it’s important to be able to capture it. I really recommend doing that in some sort of centralized place. It could be a physical book, it could be a Google doc, if you’re really technologically savvy or using a tool like Trello. There are lots of ways that you can capture it, but it’s important for you to be able to capture things and then get them out of your head.
I know that’s something that you’ve probably heard before when talking about to-do lists or productivity, but it’s really, really important. Just to capture it so that you don’t have to put any additional energy into remembering it or being worried that things are falling through the cracks.
Because what’s happening, often, when we are in those states where it’s just item after item after item, is that are Clever Brain can be using that to keep us stuck and to keep us feeling disempowered. To keep us feeling like we’re not doing it right, we’re not doing enough.
It’s important to be able to take back control of your sense of self-command—your sense of navigating. You are the Captain of your vessel, right? You are choosing what you are getting done. You get to say what happens. That is a much more empowered position and you’re in a much better spot to be able to be more effective and productive and to actually enjoy that process more.
What Clever Brain loves is to have you doubt yourself. Clever Brain looooves to have you feeling overwhelmed and like you’re LATE, like you’re behind. The way I describe it is that White Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland, that’s always blazing through, “Oh, God! We’re all gonna die because we’re LATE! And we haven’t done enough things!”
So to combat Clever Brain’s use of that, the antidote is to come back into the present moment and to actually look at all of the things, the possibilities of what there is to do, whatever is going on in your head, and then decide what you are going to do and decide your next right step.
One of the things that can be real tempting—again, this goes back to Clever Brain—is for it to get in the way of you doing your next right step, and the one that’s going to be most beneficial. Your Clever Brain, when you’re looking at your to-do list and looking at all these different things, often gravitates toward the items are easy to do, that you can quickly get churned out, and that are urgent—seemingly urgent—especially if they’re urgent from other people.
If you know anything about Gretchen Rubin’s Four Tendencies, and Obligers, if you are an Obliger, like I am, we can often prioritize other people’s urgencies at the cost of our own. Watch for that.
Watch for your Clever Brain, when you’re looking at your to-do list, looking for things that are easy, that are comfortable or quick for you to turn-out, and that are urgent according to other people.
Because what I want you to do is look at that list and ask the question, ask this question over and over again: What is the next right step that would serve me best?
What serves you, is not necessarily going to be the easy thing. It’s usually going to be the harder thing. It is not necessarily going to be something that is comfortable or familiar to you. It may or may not have anything to do with anybody else and what they believe is urgent.
But it has everything to do with what is going to serve *you* most.
So when it comes to serving, when we’re talking about things that would support our goal: When we’re talking about Progress Mapping and how each of these swirls represents a next right step, what I mean is that those are the actions to take that will move you closer toward your goal.
There are countless actions that you can take that will keep you in motion and that will keep you busy. That is another way that Clever Brain is gonna get in the way of you getting done what it is that you really need to get done.
Again, it will go—kind of forming a rationale in your head—that being “busy” is being productive. That being “busy” is good. When being “busy” can actually be a really great way to stay safe. To stay in denial. To stay away from what scares you and what is uncomfortable.
Most of our societies really reward us for being busy and we’ll assume that as part of our identity: “Oh, she’s a busy bee! She’s always movin’! Always got so much going on!” When you see people and they ask you, “Oh, how are you doing?” “Oh, busy! Super busy. But it’s good! It’s just busy.”
We can really feed into the value of busy. And yet, busy may or may not have anything to do with your effectiveness and the actions that you are taking to reach your goals.
So I want you to be watching for those things. When you look at your to-do list, what thoughts are coming to mind? How is Clever Brain getting in the way?
Because what we’re going for is having a to-do list where you are able to cross things off and feel like you are getting things done. That at the end of the day, it feels like, “OK, good. I know that I got where I needed to be today” and yes, of course, there’s always gonna be more things on the list. And of course when you’re trying to go to bed, there are going to be more things added, that pop into your head.
It’s totally fine. Don’t even worry about that. That is life. It’s not about getting every single thing done. It’s about prioritizing and taking those next right steps.
One thing I wanna say, too, about the actions that will serve you, that are hard to take, that are uncomfortable or that you will come up with any other reason not to do them (you’ll start cleaning or you’ll even go workout): Anything’s better than sitting down and writing that thing or making the call or whatever that action is that would really serve you.
There’s a thing that I do, that I don’t really promote very well, frankly, and it’s called Time to Win. It is a virtual power hour that I host, Monday-Friday, at 9am and 3pm Pacific. Doing the math, that’s twice a day, five days a week—that’s ten hours of time where it’s reserved solely for getting things done and for taking action.
So if that’s interesting to you, please comment below and I will make sure to link it and give you the details. Because what happens is that we join together and we get things done on our list that we know are hard for us to do.
Often, especially if you’re an Obliger, if you’re somebody that gets more things done when you have other people around you, then it can be really, really helpful to join us for Time to Win. What happens is that we use a really cool tool called Zoom. It’s becoming ever more popular: A video conferencing tool that’s super easy to use. It allow us to essentially come together in a virtual room and be able to see each other.
For Time to Win, all of the sound is muted. We only communicate through chat.
Really it’s just to say hello at the top of the hour and declare what it is that we’re getting done. Then we all work independently. We can see each other and be aware of each other’s energy, but we’re really not paying attention to one another. We’re really focused on whatever those next right steps are and the action that we’re taking.
Then at the end of the hour, we get to report back in and celebrate what we did and congratulate one another. And I’ve heard things recently, just from clients who’ve been coming to Time to Win, like “Thank you so much for being here. It helps so much.” “I cranked through whatever this thing was that’s been sort of weighing on me and that I know that I need to get done.”
You can really just focus your time and energy. When you’re doing it with a group of people, in this context, it seems to be more enjoyable and just more effective.
So if your next right steps, if you’re getting stuck and feeling like you’re not moving forward, I highly recommend Time to Win as a great tool and option for you to really make strides, quickly. It’s seriously up to ten hours a week. I am the only person that comes ten hours a week, but that’s on purpose, because I created this entire event because I needed something. I needed the accountability. If I have to host something, I am going to show up!
So let’s look at the system that I have been using for my own. I’d shown it at the top of the hour. This is my to-do list. It’s a really cool book that is called the Action (Journal) and shout out to Stephanie—excuse me, Action Book—ooh. Yes, see? You can see “Action Book.” Thanks to Stephanie for recommending this to me. I’ll post the link to where you can get it if you’re in the market for a cool journal.
What I like about it is that it gives me an opportunity to note the actions that I want to take on the right side, here. In this particular instance, there are up to eleven spots and I use ten of them. You’ll notice that there is a familiar looking visual. That is the 10-Swirl Heart!
What I have been doing is using some labels. We’re talking R&D in Map-Your-Progress-land, where I’ve come up with a way to use the 10-Swirl Heart design on the labels so that I can paste it into my journal. You can really do this anywhere. It’s totally up to you. But I wanted to give us a way to be able to use the maps with our journals or planners, anything that you’re using in your hands to organize to-do lists or getting stuff done.
What I’ve done is—let me make sure you can see this, don’t know if you can really see it—but I’ve included little numbers there. Which may be backwards. But what happens is I associate the swirl (and whatever that number is) with action step.
So I’ll just write the number one, and then when I get that one done, then I color in swirl number one (which is there in the center).
I was trying this out because I wanted to test-drive it before I offered it to you guys. But, yeah—I’ve been using this for about, gosh, over a month now? And I feel like it’s really working effectively. Particularly in the layout of this Action Book. Of course, you can adapt this to whatever it is that you’re using. It certainly does not have to be this particular journal. But I really like this one because it has the—what is this binding called? The spiral?—I like the spiral because it lays flat, because I can easily fold it over on itself and have it right in front of me.
So this kind of becomes my Holy Grail of to-do’s and getting things done. While, when I’m trying to sleep at night and I need to dump things in my brain, I use this, with my (pen) that lights up. It’s my LED pen (whaaaat?). Love this thing. I will just sort of capture things in other places, but, then I bring it here into the action steps and what’s getting done.
When I’m looking at the action steps and believe me—I fill these things up pretty quickly—but when I’m looking at it, I apply what I was just talking about earlier.
I look at it and go, “OK, what would serve me the most?” And it’s not likely going to be the comfortable thing. It’s not likely going to be the easy thing. But it’s the next right step that is going to be effective and that I’m going to feel victorious for having taken.
So during Time to Win, which is the virtual power hour I host, Monday-Friday, that is when I am taking those action—excuse me—next right steps that are hard to take. OK, so if you guys are interested in getting these—the 10-Swirl Heart labels—go ahead and comment below. It’s not something that I have officially put up on the site (yet), but if you guys are interested, then I’d be happy to do that.
By the way, this labels that I’m using—and I’m happy to put the link—these are made by Avery. It’s the 8164. That’s all I’m using. So essentially what I will do is get a page up on the site where you can just purchase this PDF that has the six 10-Swirl Hearts and then you print ‘em off on home as often as you want to, using those Avery labels.
OK, great…Katherine, awesome. She said, “The labels would be great!”
Tazz is saying, “Yes, I am very interested!!!!!” Look at all those exclamation points! I love it.
OK, cool! Yeah, I really think you guys are going to like this system. So, OK. I just wanna do a quick recap, here.
Thinking about your to-do list and particularly if you find yourself often getting overwhelmed, where you feel like there’s just so much, like you’re never gonna get through it all. You may feel like you’re working really hard, you’re busy, the time is flying by and yet—you are not reaching your goals. You are not getting things done that you really want to get done.
You want to look for how your Clever Brain may be getting in the way. You want to be paying attention to the thoughts that you’re thinking when you look at your to-do list. If you’re gravitating toward the things that are easy, that are comfortable, that you enjoy doing. Then you also want to be aware of the things that seem urgent based on somebody else’s opinion.
I had a friend who used to work at the DMV and there was a saying there that, you know, “Your lack of planning does not constitute an emergency for us.” And it’s the same idea, right? We can get sucked into doing things for other people at the cost of doing the things that we need to be doing. So watch for that. Watch for those things.
Then when you’re looking at your list, the question that I want you to be asking, when you’re evaluating the next steps that you *could* take, is which one of those is gonna serve you best?
If you are struggling to actually take the action of what’s going to serve you best, then I want you to check out Time to Win, which is the virtual power hour that I host Monday-Friday, 9am and 3pm Pacific, that is literally ten hours a week where you could be coming and getting things done with me. I’ll post the link for details to that.
For those of you that are interested in this 10-Swirl Heart and getting the labels that you can use with your journal/planner of choice, then please comment below and I’ll get that page up on the site and have an opportunity for you to get those.
OK, hey Marianne! Oh, so good to see you, Dear! She said, “Hi, Love this idea and the labels are wow” Aw, so good. I’m glad you guys like ‘em! I really enjoyed it.
You know, again, it’s something that I like because I can easily see, just based on looking at the page, where things have gotten done and where things are in process. I don’t have to be so worried about organizing all of my to-do’s. I just know that I can quickly, visually see where I’m at, what still needs to get done, and it’s not a big deal.
Then it’s really fun to be able to color ‘em in! And further, I’ve taken some of the maps and just printed out the download version and then just taped ‘em in. So I am huge fan of using the maps for to-do’s because I feel like it’s so much more satisfying to color in a swirl then just check it off a list.
Ah, ooh! Marianne is saying, “Need your pen too :)” Yes! Helllleeeerure! This pen. It’s called “The Pilot’s Pen” and you can get it at thepilotspen.com or on Amazon. And this sucker is bah-right! It is very useful for when you have that nighttime onslaught of you can’t go to sleep. You just get it down. I keep this right beside me so that I can easily capture all those thoughts.
Alright, if there are any other questions, please shout ‘em out. Love being with you. I’m excited to be able to share some of these tips and tools because I of course want you to be reaching your goals. I want you to feel like you are captaining your own vessel and choosing your time—what you do with your time, rather—in a way that makes you feel happy and alive and contributes to a feeling of a sustainable momentum. Where you know that you’re growing, you’re making progress, you’re feeling good and proud of what you are doing and how you are adulting!
OK, Dears! Thank you so much for being here. Excited to share more with you later this week. I will be back at noon Pacific on Friday.
Tazz says, “Thank you!” You’re so welcome, Dear. What’s also fun, I just want to remind you. This is really a new thing: But, each of these chats that I do are automatically going to be posted to YouTube. If you want to receive the replays in your inbox, all you have to do is go to the YouTube link, subscribe there, and then you’ll see these in your inbox if you can’t join live.
And also, if you are a person who rather just listen to this or listen to it again, they are also going to be uploaded an the audio form to my Soundcloud account. Soundcloud has a really great app that you can download on your phone. So you can listen back to these almost like a podcast. Which is kind of fun and exciting.
I just want you guys to be able to get the goodness any way that you want to get it, ok? Alright, Dears. Great to be with you and I will look forward to seeing you all soon! OK. Byyyyye!