One of our LearnDoBecome community members named Merry posted this inspiring image and message in our free community Facebook group last week, and I just had to share it with you:
Here’s what she wrote:
I’ve been using a Current Projects and Next Actions List for a little over 2 weeks now. Here are the benefits I’ve noticed so far:
1. I’m calmer, because I’m not worried about forgetting things.
I don’t forget things now because they are on one of the 2 lists, so my brain is not constantly worried about not forgetting something, or trying to remember. This has added a huge amount of peace and calm to my day. I only have to remember to check my list, or write it on my list when I think of it.
2. I’m more in tune with my body and how I’m feeling.
I check in with my next actions frequently throughout the day. Because of the categories, this check in is actually a mental and physical check in too. Do I have the physical or mental energy to do a 10 minute task, or do I need a resting/replenishing task instead?
3. By listening to my body/ how I’m feeling, I actually get more done during the day.
The other day I completed my daily routines loop by what felt like accident, just from breaking it up into 10 minute or less pieces and coming back to it when I had time. I’m completing my next actions lists every week.
It feels kind of weird that taking it slow, only working when I feel like it, and lots of rest is actually helping me get more done…
The mind shift change has also made a big difference in getting stuff done too. My Next Actions List is a choice list, and I purposely have a fun/relax category as a choice.
4. My self-efficacy (feeling like “I can do this!) is higher.
All my tasks feel doable. I have the self-confidence to know that I don’t have to feel guilty choosing to relax whenever I feel like it, because I will get the other things done later when I have the energy, just like I have the last few weeks. By choosing to allow myself to relax, I find I have more energy to get things done than I did when I tried to push through because I was “supposed” to do my work first.
I’ve seen so many benefits from what looks like “just a list” on the surface, but the true benefits have been in all the beneficial mindset shifts that come with it.
Reading about Merry’s experience gave me such a lift because she hit on something that is rarely discussed in the productivity space.
It’s easy to believe that all the “successful” people are high-octane performers all day, every day. In fact, just this morning when Eric and I were on a walk, I said, “Eric, there’s a lot going on in my heart right now. I’m thinking and processing, and I’m trying to come up with some solutions to the challenges I’ve been facing. It might look like I’m lazy, but I just need some space.”
Eric paused for a moment and then said, “Hang on, April–who thinks you’re being lazy?”
I laughed a little bit and responded, “Well, no one, but I haven’t gotten our newsletter out yet this week, and I haven’t finished some of the projects that we need to do, but I have just had so much on my mind, and I needed to rest more than usual this week.”
We then had a really good conversation where we discussed the following ideas:
- We all have high-energy and low-energy times (and lots of moments in the middle!), and it doesn’t make sense to push ourselves to crazy extremes in order to prove our worth.
- One of the reasons I’ve historically put a lot of pressure on myself is because I have believed from the beginning that “responsible people get lots of things done,” and even when I know it’s wiser to sit and rest, this little voice in my head tells me that if I were more capable, I would be moving faster.
- We have to be really careful about which voices we listen to. I’ve surrounded myself with a lot of go-getters over the past few years, which has been fun and motivating in many ways–because I get lots of ideas and I enjoy their energy. However, I’ve also learned that many (not all) people are go-getters because they are hungry for significance, addicted to praise/adoration, and desperately seeking validation. I don’t want to fall into that trap (although, admittedly, I have sometimes in the past) because when you work for significance, praise, validation, etc., no amount will ever be enough.
- It’s possible to architect a life that honors our humanness. That’s not weakness.
I love how Merry shared that she actually ends up getting more done when she works with her energy levels. It’s not because “more is better,” and it’s not because she is pushing herself beyond her capacity.
There’s this hymn we sing at church called “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty.” (And if you aren’t religious, please don’t stress–I’m just sharing something that has been personally meaningful to me, and you can adjust the lesson to suit your needs.) In it there’s a line that says, “Hast thou not seen how all thou needest hath been granted in what He ordaineth?”
To me, that means that if we work WITH our humanness and align ourselves with our Higher Power, we’ll end up with everything we really need.
Years ago, when we had two little babies, two and under, and I was caring for our home and family full time while Eric was in business school, I wondered what kind of place I would have in the world. I’d just graduated with my degree in Communications, and there were a lot of competing voices in my sphere, telling me what it meant to have “a successful life”–especially as a female.
But the words from that hymn kept coming back to my mind, and I decided that if I aligned myself with God and did what made sense each day, I could trust that over time, I would be able to have all the things I needed, and I wouldn’t have to chase them or feel fearful along the way.
During that time–and every day since–I’ve had to make a lot of decisions regarding which paths to pursue. Often, the decisions that made the most sense for my energy levels, my heart, and my mental and physical health weren’t the fanciest. And to be honest, I often wondered if my work really mattered or if there would be anything significant about my life.
Looking back, however, it’s amazing to see what I would describe as the hand of God helping and guiding me at every step.
There are many ways people define that Higher Power that exists in each of our lives, and I love and respect the perspective of each member of our LearnDoBecome community. My hope, however, is that as a unified group, we will be wise with our energy, careful as we discern the best things to do each day, and gentle with ourselves as we evaluate our success and significance.
I know it seems like I talk about projects and lists a lot, but it’s not because I want everyone here to be “productive powerhouses.”
It’s because I know the pain that most people feel as they run in circles and try so hard to move faster and faster every day–and I know the discouragement that is often felt when we get tired and can’t “keep up.” I’m confident that there is a MUCH better way. We need each other here–to redefine what is normal and to help one another to set up our lives, our routines, our goals, and our “lists,” so we all can consistently wake up excited and go to bed content.
That’s all for today, but I welcome your (respectful) comments and contributions to this conversation.
If you’d like instructions on how to set up your Next Actions on your phone like Merry Did–or if you want to join the live conversation, this link will take you to the Facebook group (but you may need to request access, if you’re not yet in the group!).
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