You’ve got your calendar sorted and your space is organised. Both supporting your productivity. Now what?
Let’s talk about ‘choosing’ to-dos before launching into how your calendar captures them.
In talking about to-dos, assessing them is the first step. There’s no doubt that there’s a lot to do these days and oftentimes, we’ve accepted a task without performing our qualifying check first. Life is full of things you want to do, things you have to do, and things others want you to do. Often when people find that their to-do list isn’t aligning with their values it’s because too much of the third element (things others want you to do) is running the show. Lack of clarity, boundaries and also a reactive, rather than proactive, mentality can be to blame.
All of these parts need to be addressed in order for a to-do list to represent someone’s goals and aspirations. Running a task through someone’s own personal filter is a good start for gaining clarity over what’s important to focus on day to day. This filter could be your values, or your big picture vision. You can define your personal filter by what is most important to you.
Values are personal qualities or passions. They’re what you stand for; who you are. Whereas needs are your priorities and principles that make functioning sustainable.
If you haven’t revisited your values and needs in a while, it’s worth taking the time to do so.
I manage a Values and Needs exercise with my clients to help them determine their unique set of values. With these in mind, it helps us to build the foundation of their schedule and keep their long-term goals in focus. Goals and decisions that are based on values tend to be more satisfying to accomplish.
There are several core value lists that are available online. I recommend this list.
To use it effectively, identify 3 – 5 that resonate with you and run a Litmus test over them. This makes sure that they’re genuinely yours. If you answer ‘no’ to all of these questions, then you’ve found a core value.
- Would you honestly sacrifice any value on your list for money?
- Have you lost any of these core values in times of stress?
- Do you envision that this core value holds true in say 25 years?
- Would you at some point stop holding this value if it became a competitive disadvantage?
Having values clear in our minds guides us towards building our prioritised daily task list.
Big Picture Vision
Your values will have a lot of influence on driving your big picture vision.
Maybe you know what you’re moving towards, or maybe you’re unclear. Either way, take a moment and imagine what your life looks like in the future. Where do you live? How are you spending your time? What does it feel like?
Depending on what came up for you, you may have just identified parts of your big picture vision. To further support you in this, use my handy HOLA tool as a guide to see if your life is in balance. This tool will help you to fully round out your big-picture vision Enabling you to set 1 or 2 goals for each category highlighted in the HOLA.
The above request may seem airy-fairy, or it might just seem too far in the future to contemplate. But these dreams, these imaginings that you have, they help shape and develop how you live your life NOW. Getting in touch with your deepest values and the fundamental things in life will ensure your happiness.
Life category: Work > Goal: Reputation for Excellence
Life category: Friendship > Goal: Close Connections
Life category: Family > Goal: Well-adjusted, self-confident kids
For someone feeling out of balance, this exercise shines a light on where they are spending the majority of their time and where needs some TLC.
It gives you an idea of where you want to go and how to help you get there. It’s totally fine if it’s vague at the moment, it only takes one step to unveil another step, and the next one, and the next.
What’s important to you right now
Having our values clear guides us towards building our prioritised daily task list. It means that our schedules will reflect who we are and what’s important to us; inching us forward towards what we want to achieve.
Big picture goals don’t have to be huge or world-changing (but they can be that too). Goals are long term aims that we work towards. We’re putting in the effort because, if we achieve them, we’ll feel satisfaction. Identifying a life goal makes it so much easier to prioritize on a day-to-day basis.
Goals are the destination – it’s what you WANT to achieve.
Your goals help you focus your motivation and efforts; these make up the HOW of getting to where you want to be. By defining your big-picture goals and selecting activities that help you move towards them, you’re designing the life of your dreams and taking control.
Activities are the actions that get you there
Breaking a goal into manageable parts gets you from A to Z. All those letters in between are the activities and milestones.
I’ve posted about New Year’s resolutions, where you’ll often hear things thrown around like “I’m going to exercise three times a week” or “This year I’m going to find a new job”. These aren’t goals in themself but activities that are helping someone towards the deeper purpose of having even dreamt them up in the first place.
One of the fun things about activities is that they change as you get closer to your goals. If you’re aiming to maximise your health, your workout schedule may change, or you’ll add networking to your goal of finding fulfilling work. Maybe it’s lifting a certain weight or securing a job interview, and you treat yourself to something related to your goal or take a photo to commemorate the moment. Milestones are significant stages or events that mark success towards your goal.
Clarity around what we want to spend time on is the most crucial step in becoming a great time manager, being a great chooser of To-Dos. Keeping in mind what we wish to achieve in different life categories ensures a life in balance. Which is where we’re able to really live and thrive.
So now, take a moment and
1) highlight what’s important in your current to do list;
2) cross out what doesn’t align with your values; and
3) move on to the ‘doing’!