Welcome to week 2 of the love your life challenge. How'd it go last week? Were you able to come up with actions that will lead to your core desired feelings?
Today, we are going to talk about how to move from mind-FULL to mindful
The tool I’d like to share this week is called white space and it’s intention is to get all of those thoughts about what you need to do out of your brain and onto paper. I can already hear you saying, “But, I’ve already done this before. It’s called a to-do list. Right?” Well, yes and no.
White space is created by dumping out everything that is clouding up your mind… a brain dump if you will.
So, here’s what you need to do:
- Get a piece of paper and a pen or open up a blank page on your computer. Set a timer for 15 minutes using your phone or a kitchen timer.
- Write down everything on your mental to-do list. (Don’t censor or edit! Just keep writing for the allotted time.) You can include home stuff and/work stuff. Include the urgent/important, urgent/not important, not urgent/not important, and not urgent/important. If you are familiar with Steven Covey’s work you know what I’m talking about.
- When the timer goes off and you feel complete you are DONE. If not, set it for another 5 minutes and keep going. Do this as many times as needed until you feel like your mind has been wrung out. A few more to-dos might dribble in and you can collect them as they do.
This will most likely be your longest to-do list EVER. DON’T panic! I’m not going to ask you to begin doing the items on your list. In fact, resist that urge.
First, we need to prioritize.
This should be fun. Remember, we are doing the things we need to do to FEEL the way we want to feel. So, go back to that feeling you desire because you’ll likely uncover a good deal of the tasks from your list that either lead to the exact opposite feeling than the one you are after OR they make you feel the way you want. The later are the ones you want to spend your time and energy on.
Right now, the list you are looking at is not manageable. Prioritizing is absolutely key for managing your to-do list. So, take out 4 different colored highlighters or pens. We are going to hash out what needs to be done right now, what you can handle later, what you NEED to make time for and what you can delegate or dump. Each of these 4 categories is going to be highlighted or underlined with a different color.
Pink: Urgent and Important
Tasks that are highlighted pink are near emergencies that need to be done ASAP. If you don’t do them now, something bad will happen. (Quick, go do one of these tasks right now. We will be here when you get back.)
If you are finding yourself with a lot of pink highlights you are probably feeling super stressed out and anxious. These are todos probably do not lead to your core desired feelings so we want to take a good look at why there are so many of them. Feeling like you are constantly putting out fires not only creates havoc on your personal and business lives, it is also a disastrous place to parent from. Your kids deserve a mama who is calm and collected, not one who is living as if life were an emergency.
Orange: Urgent but Not Important
Tasks that are highlighted orange are things that need to get done on a regular basis, but they are not going to make or break you.
Some examples of what might be in this category are child related actions: giving your baby a bath, sending in a registration for summer camp, scheduling a babysitter for date night, etc. These are things that you need to do, but you should be able to do while maintaining your core desired feeling. One way to do this is to prepare for them in advance so you aren’t rushing through bath time because you didn’t give yourself enough time. The tools that you are learning today will ensure that you can perform these orange items with a sense of peace and joy and that they don’t fall through the cracks. Just because they are called “not important” doesn’t actually mean that you don’t want to do them. Of course you want to bathe your baby!
Yellow: Not Urgent and Not Important
So many of my stay at home mamas (including me at one time) fill their days up with tasks that are ultimately un-important and that do not help them feel the way they want to feel.
So, I want to ask you, if it doesn’t make you feel the way you want to feel or help you achieve a goal, and if it isn’t urgent, then why are you doing it? Is it possible to stop? Can you drop it all together and see what happens?
Again, I can hear you asking, “So, what kinds of tasks fall under this area?” And it really depends on the individual. That is why I am inviting you to question everything on your master list. If it’s not creating your core desired feeling or getting a positive result, DUMP IT!
Green: Important but Not Urgent
Tasks that are highlighted green DO help you feel the way you want to feel, but they usually require focused time and energy. I call these the "love my life" tasks.
Here are my personal "love my life" tasks that came up when I did this exercise:
1. Get off the internet at least an hour before going to bed.
Oh yes, that’s the first one.
I already spend far too much time on the Internet during the day so you'd think it would be EASY to get off at night. Not so! Here is an example of a "love my life task" that FEELS good in the long run (I sleep better), but is difficult in the short run. I doubt anyone will combat me there.
So I make the effort to change the way I feel in my body, my focus, and my words (see last week's post) before I get off the Internet so that I FEEL good as I'm doing it. Make sense?
2. Take a day off from work.
One of the funniest comedians I’ve listened to in a while is John Mulaney. He said in a recent bit that canceling plans gives you the same instantly good feeling as an illegal drug I won’t point out here or encourage use of, but you get the point. The reason we love to bail is because it feels fantastic.
That’s why I responsibly take a day off from work (a Mom-ME day.) Right now, my work mostly consists of "momming" so this means hiring a babysitter or asking a friend to watch my kids. I return to them feeling like a million bucks.
3. Wear cute clothes and makeup.
For me, this would be a a pretty shirt and nice jeans (instead of yoga pants) with my slightly heeled boots and some blush and lipgloss.
Often, I fall out of bed and just put on whatever is “comfortable.” But this often doesn't FEEL good. So, If I want to love my life I take the mental effort to dress myself nicely and I notice how great I feel throughout the entire day.
You probably saw this coming if you know me personally. Yoga always makes me feel better. The act of moving my body refreshes so much. Even though it's often a pain to have take schedule in a class, the physical reward I get from yoga just adds to the mental benefits.
5. Do something I've been putting off.
This can relate to all sorts of things, such as paying bills, errands, organizing my garage, etc. I know that if I want to feel great instantly all I need to do is accomplish something small that I've been putting off. I feel great about it because that’s one less thing weighing on my subconscious, especially if this is a task that really needed to be done.
OK, share time... If I'm really in need of feeling better I get in front of my mirror and practice my smile (or sometimes I recite a "mom-me moment") to adjust how I come across. I won’t say that this activity is free from vanity, but my ego loves it and it is an instant pick me up.
7. Clean my phone up.
Playing the delete game is a great way for me to feel like I’ve simplified my life, getting rid of the redundancies on my phone that are clogging up space and setting me up for embarrassing moments when my family starts looking through my photo albums.
8. Turn my phone off.
It’s a simple pleasure to be off the grid for a few hours. In fact, every Saturday I try to spend the entire day without my phone. My family loves it and so do I.
9. Call a friend I haven't spoken to in a while.
We don't even need to have the world’s longest conversation, but calling my friends is a real mood changer, especially if we haven't talked in a while. I like to do this when my son naps.
I love to sing in the shower because my voice sounds so good in there :).
Your turn! As the curator of your own life, what things can you do to FEEL GOOD? Put these on a new list.
Everything else either needs to be done fast and dirty, delegated (thanks for folding the laundry, hon!), or discarded so you can spend your time and energy on things that deliver your core desired feelings on a silver platter.
Extra Credit after using the "Covey quadrants" try using the CDF quadrants and instead of the word "important" use one of your core desired feelings. For example, I might use Urgent and "peaceful" for my top right quadrant."
And if you choose too stay committed to living a life your love here are a few more invitations...
Week 2: Commitments
Start working your to-do list
1. Do the urgent and important tasks. If you come across any tasks that are repeating (like laundry or meal planning) I suggest you create a system so you can prevent them from becoming urgent emergencies. (No clean underwear or nothing to eat for dinner and it's 5pm.)
2. Do the urgent but not important tasks. These need your attention. While you do these tasks I suggest you make a checklist so that it will be easier to pass off or complete the task faster next time. For example, you could make a "baby packing list" so that either your husband can pack the baby stuff or you can do it quickly without having to re-remember what to pack.
3. Schedule time for important but not urgent tasks. You have to schedule time in your calendar for these. These will greatly enhance your ability to love your life. Invest you time in these tasks by putting them on your calendar. If it gets scheduled it gets done!
4. Cross off any not important or urgent tasks. I want you to take a long hard look at these guys. For this week, experiment with NOT DOING them. They are a waste of your precious time and energy. Your core desired feelings with thank you.
Next week we will be talking about ending procrastination so that you can do the things you need to do to feel the way you want to feel sooner rather than later. Stay tuned.
P.S. I would love to chat with you about how you may be unconsciously living a life that feels less than lovely. When you Thrive, the whole world is your playground. Book your FREE Assessment Session and planning call right now.