Posts Tagged ‘brain science’

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The Real Definition of a To Do List

March 27, 2014

The “To Do” list.

You either love it or hate it…or maybe you just loath it.  If  you are a planner – you’ve never met a to do list you didn’t love.  But if being an organized, sequential, detail thinking planner is not your thing…well then, you may just loath the idea of a to do list.

I’d like to change that.

Your brain was built to interact with ideas, not store them.  It does not make sense to use your magnificent brain to remember “to send Sally that email,” “call Carl back” and “oh, don’t forget the milk on your way home.”  What a waste of prime, precious real estate.  Your brain may be little – weighing in at only 2% of your body weight – but it takes 20 to 30% of your calories and 20% of your oxygen (according to The Daniel Plan and other brain research).  Though it may be little, your brain is mighty.

So why do we treat it like it is not important?  Using your brain to “remember milk” is insulting when it is desperately wanting to think, ponder,  create, innovate and give you great ideas.  Ever thought about where you are when your great ideas hit…how about in the shower, on a walk, sitting quietly, working out, playing with your kid or pet?  It is never at work when you are locked to your desk, laptop, tablet, or smartphone.  Your brain will work the way it wants to when it finds the space to do so, even if you don’t give it the space, it’ll just take it.

Which brings me back to the point of this post.  What is the real definition of a To Do list?  It is to capture what you need to do, want to do and don’t want to forget to do.  But with everything on one list it can be overwhelming and scary which is why so many don’t spend the time creating a To Do list.  The point is to create a To Do list that works for you.  Your To Do should be the place where everything goes that needs to get done, but that doesn’t mean you need to get it done the minute you create the list.  I coach my clients to consider different kinds of To Do lists…one for today’s or tomorrow’s  priorities, one for longer term projects you don’t want to forget about and a list of the things you will eventually get around to doing (though maybe not).  The point is you captured the idea. Because the ultimate goal is capturing the information…once the idea is down on paper and out of your brain you can stop thinking about it.  The space that “finalize marketing plan” was taking up in your brain is now released and room is made to think.

Working with one of my clients recently on her To Do list reminded me how a true creative, right brain phenomenal woman viewed “The List” and the creation of “The List.”  So I challenged her to see her To Do list different…just a place to capture all you want to do so you can decide when things will get done, on which timeline and in which order.  There are so many options when it comes to creating a To Do list and I don’t want to overwhelm you with the possibilities because your list needs to be a reflection of you.  But start by capturing all the “things” that are swimming around in your head and then categorize them by deadline…tomorrow, next week, next month, next quarter, next year, maybe never.  Then focus on working daily with the “tomorrow” and “next week” list to figure out when you can accomplish the items.  One great daily To Do list that I enjoy using is the 1-3-5 rule.  It says that on any given day I can accomplish one big item (like writing this post), 3 medium items, and 5 smaller items when considering the number of meetings, client sessions and networking events I have.  I can accomplish more of course when there is less on the calendar.  You can read more and download a printed template of the 1-3-5 list (if analog is your preference) here!  (Thanks Daily Muse for the great idea).

Your To Do list should set you free…not hold you prisoner.  You control your list, you are in charge and the list is just there to capture all the great things you are going to do!

So go create your To Do list and Take Control of Your Day!

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