The Only Cure I’ve Found For A Never-Ending To-Do List

Two gray pencils on corner of a yellow rectangle

Have you ever woken up overwhelmed, realizing that your to-do list is so long that you have no hope of accomplishing your goals for today?

I definitely have. It’s a chronic problem for many of us, and if that’s you too, it’s really worth doing the work to change your habits now so that you don’t continue to sabotage your mindset and hope of a great day before it’s begun.

When I read the book The One Thing, I was stunned by the deceptively simple premise. Ask yourself “what’s the one thing I can do today that will move me forward toward _”?

To answer it, you’ll need to know your top goal right now. And for me, I’ve got goals in a variety of areas, so there’s still some juggling involved. But for instance, if my taxes are due soon and they aren’t done yet, that might be the most important goal for me right now, which means the one thing I simply MUST accomplish today to be most effective might be gathering all the paperwork I’ll need to get my taxes done this month.

Over time, I’ve learned to allow myself to set 2 or 3 goals for the day sometimes. And that works. But always, I also make sure I know the #1 thing, and honestly, it’s most effective for most people to do that one thing first. But however you do it, get clear on your priorities for each day, and set those 1-3 goals. If you accomplish them, then know that You. Are. Done. You do not need to do ANYTHING ELSE. You are successful today. Well done.

And if just getting started feels daunting, it’s great to commit to taking 5 minutes (or however long) just to assess the entire task ahead of you. Read the instructions/read the emails you were sent. You don’t have to do the whole project – that counts as accomplishing something for today.

This technique works best when you also do some work articulating the one thing that would move the needle for you this week, and this month, and this year – and maybe even this lifetime!

The answers will vary, of course, over time, but these regular check-ins keep you honest with yourself, keep you from doing busywork or other work that just doesn’t mean as much or just isn’t as important right now.

Have you tried this technique? How does it work for you? And if this isn’t the technique for you, what’s worked better in your own life?

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My Six Favorite Books for Motivation and Self-Reflection

A friend of mine is entering a transition period in her life, and she asked me for suggestions of books for motivation and dealing with change.

I didn’t answer right away, because I wanted to sit with it and revisit my favorites.

By the time I’d created my list, I realized that other people might want these book suggestions too!

Here are six books you might enjoy. Have you read any of them, and if not, which are you inspired to tackle first?

Untamed by Glennon Doyle – Glennon’s book motivated me to get more deliberate about diversifying my social media feeds, a small move that’s led to me learning so much! Her stories share her own journey. Expect lots of self-revelation, humor, with a healthy dose of intersectional feminism and inspiration in the mix. I loved it, and it really resonated with me. She’s been through a lot of change under challenging circumstances, and she gets very real and raw.

The One Thing by Gary W. Keller and Jay Papasan – I’ve read a lot of great self-help books and advice for business, but The One Thing has had more of a lasting impact on my daily and weekly work than most others. The authors will motivate you to get clear about what matters and take deliberate steps with that in mind. Your giant to-do list is SO much less important than knowing the most important item (or perhaps two or three max) on your list for today, and for this week, and for this year. It’s very relevant for entrepreneurs and employees alike, but I’d argue it’s even more important in your personal life!

Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist – In all honesty, my advice to my friend was to read this “or anything by Shauna Niequist”. This was the first book I ever read that I felt I could have written myself. I’ve read it three times, and I will keep returning to it, over and over again, because it helps me to reflect, consider what’s most important, and remember my values and current vision for my life. I found it therapeutic and challenging. She navigates changes and surprises as she transitions into a new phase of her life. Her older books are great too, though for where I am now, Present Over Perfect is key. I’ve got her next book pre-ordered and I can’t wait.

The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron – You know, when you were that little kid who’d happily color and explore with other little kids at preschool? If you go back far enough, almost all of us had a time where we created without judgment or expectation. If you take nothing else from this incredible three month journey into getting to know yourself better and rediscovering your inner creative, you should consider “morning pages” and “artist dates”. I continue my morning pages practice daily and love weekly artist dates whenever possible too. Trust me, if you haven’t done this yet, this is a brilliant introduction to self-help or return to creativity (or both).

The Four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin – This is a newer book for me – I discovered it several months ago and was so impressed with it that I’m incorporating it into my coaching. There are lots of personality tests out there, but this one is both easy to comprehend quickly and also extremely actionable. And if you find it useful, she’s got lots of additional resources (and an app that lets you connect with others about it).

The Road Back To You and The Path Between Us by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile (the latter by just Suzanne) – I’ve been geeking out on Enneagram podcasts lately. If you’re not familiar with the Enneagram, it’s an ancient road map for living, basically. Think personality test, but one where you identify yourself (mainly based on what motivates you) and then can use that knowledge to help you navigate the world and become a healthier, happier version of yourself. I’m learning so much about myself through these books and podcasts that I’m actually recruiting a group of folks to do an Enneagram group program with me – basically, a book club where we’re all doing some self-reflection as we learn about the Enneagram. (I’m actively looking for volunteers, and cost is super low for the materials!)

What are you reading right now? Have you read any of these? Do you want to join my Enneagram cohort, where we watch videos and learn about the Enneagram and discuss it with other people?

I’d love to hear from you – and thanks so much for reading!

Photo by John-Mark Smith on Unsplash

______________________________

Supporting Our Blog

We are so thankful for your support of our blog and our careers! You can help further by doing any or all of the following:

  • Purchase one of Ross’ albums! 
  • Take Ross’ online ukulele course!
  • Become a patron of our work!
  • Make purchases via our Amazon website links. There is no additional cost to you, and a portion of the proceeds can support our travels. Begin your Amazon search here.
  • Make other purchases using our affiliate links. Signing up with Dosh is a great way for everyone with a smartphone to support us, and we also have options for aspiring virtual assistants as well as occasional and full-time RVers to save money.
  • Subscribe to our blog, as well as perhaps InSearchOfAScoop.com, and recommend our work to your friends and family.
  • Take music or theater lessons (group or private) from us, either in person or via Skype at TinyVillageMusic.com.