I don’t know about you but I always resort to writing a list when I start to feel tasks are looming. The trouble is it’s usually when I’m starting to feel overwhelmed by all that I have to do that I start making the list. So even though list-making helps me clarify what I have to do and in what order of priority, it also often makes me feel something close to panic as I’m confronted with everything that I haven’t yet done.
The antidote to this is simple, but so effective.
Instead of writing a to do list when you start feeling that you need to prioritise your tasks, begin by writing an already done list. Write down all the things you’ve already achieved today or this week. It’s so gratifying and often quite amazing to glance over all the things we have been up to already, and it energizes us for our list of things yet to do.
It also helps us shift our perspective on time, and how long it takes to do things. Often we can discover that our perception of how long it takes to do fairly mundane tasks is magnified by how much we resist doing them, as the anxiety and procrastination demand way more of our energy than actually just getting on with the thing in the first place.
So to keep the stress out of ‘to do’ lists, to ramp up your energy levels for your next bunch of activities, AND to develop an awareness of the relationship between tasks and their duration, write an ‘already done’ list first. You’ll be astounded by how much more progress you will make more quickly.
How do you think about time? Is it something you feel you haven’t enough of – or do you find yourself wishing it away?
Time is a phenomenon that is simultaneously astonishingly simple and mind-blowingly complex. It touches all of us and it stands still for noone. It flies and it ravages, is easy to measure yet devilish to define.
However in our journals we can influence how time passes, if not cosmically, at least psychologically.
Journal writing provides us with the perfect space to review and reflect on the memories and lessons of our past, create our intentions for the future and make the most of the present moment. Taking notice of our current surroundings, the people we interact with, and the sights, sounds and smells of our present reality enable us to live each moment fully – and writing about it all enables us to relive it at any future moment. So time – or at least how we fill it – becomes collapsible, and each present moment contains elements from both past and future. Our time becomes timeless, eternal.
Once we get under the skin of our relationship with time we start to understand how effectively or otherwise we use it. Look out in particular for the link between anxiety and procrastination. The more anxious we become about a task, the longer we perceive it to take, and the less readily we find time to actually get it done. But journaling helps us to make clearer distinctions between perceptions and reality, so anxiety reduces, tasks become no more than tasks to be prioritised, and suddenly we find we have more time than we thought.
Journaling helps us identify our own rhythm, and once we allow ourselves to live life at our own pace we suddenly get into a state of flow, finding ourselves accomplishing more in an hour or a day than we ever knew was possible.
Eventually we become less focused on quantifiable time, and much more interested in the quality of how we spend our time. It’s all relative of course, as Einstein would tell us. The great thing is we can choose how we relate.