Sunday, November 13, 2011

Do you have an 'ignore list'?

Most of us are busy, busy multi-taskers, so I know that many of you can relate to what I'll be talking about in this post.

So many of us have been groomed in professional development to be strategists, to prioritize - you know, make that list - the to-do list. The one that makes us feel good when we get things crossed off of it.

flickr photo by john.schultz
But, when we stray from it or fail to achieve the tasks scrawled in numerical order, the pangs that send us into the oblivion of guilt are cruel. (Or is that just me?)

The truth is, lists are great to help us figure out what is important and to keep us on track. But is that approach the only one to enhance productivity? No!

I ran across a blurb that almost defies (almost) the thinking that including only prioritized stuff should be included on a list.

Real Simple magazine compiled an interesting handful of ideas to get a morning off to a good start, and it really spoke to me. One grabbed my attention though: "The Ignore List".

I like it.

As a blogger, pet sitter, better half - I'm an admitted list-maker. People to contact, details to tweak, appointments to confirm, appointments to get to, errands to run. You get the idea. And it never ends.

Lists keep me sane. But this idea of ignoring things actually makes sense. The premise is to decide what's not worth doing. Check this out from Peter Bregman, author of 18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction and Get The Right Things Done:

Most people have a to-do list, but to succeed in today's distraction-prone world, you also have to ask yourself: What's not worth doing? Jot down what you're willing to disregard-e-mails you have no intention of responding to, vacuuming, the guilt of not vacuuming. Review the list from time to time to make sure that nothing on it is getting your undeserved attention.

It seems to go hand in hand with saying 'no' to things, which for most people is hard to do. Certainly it's an exercise in standing up to the adage that we need to be all, do all, accomplish all. It's just not possible.

This strategy is a great way to supercharge the start of your week, increase productivity and reduce the feeling of being overwhelmed.

Check out more spiffy ideas to make your day better in a recent post on Shine from Yahoo by clicking here.

Lorrie Shaw is a pet blogger and professional pet sitter/dog walker in Dexter Twp, MI and shares her life with her better half, Chris and their three pets. Connect with her on Google+ and Twitter.

Monday, August 29, 2011

A Friday state of mind

How many times a week do you say: "I can't wait until Friday!" or "I can't wait until this day is over."

flickr photo courtesy of craigCloutier
Yep, at some point in time, we've all said it, albeit quietly to ourselves.

I have to admit that I hear it a lot in passing from others, A LOT. And it really makes me wonder about the state of things in general.

Let's face it. Life's not easy. We live in a 24/7/365 society - a big part of the problem, I think. When do people ever stop, and enjoy what they work so hard  for? With work schedules, kid's school schedules and activities, personal commitments, it's no wonder that people feel overwhelmed and want "the weekend" to arrive.

But, do most people stop to even enjoy the weekend? Most often, not.

In our culture especially, we value our work, even define ourselves by it. It takes up much of our days, and for some of us, our evenings. And our weekends.

Being busy is looked at as a good thing in our culture. If you're not, you're a loser. What kind of life is that? Who started this?

Being a pet sitter, I can attest to working long hours and getting a little absorbed; my workday begins at 6:00am at times, and in some cases I don't get home until late at night. It's part of the deal, and that's okay with me. I do steal spare moments during the day and get home to unplug, be a pet mama, do whatever. And, I'm lucky - I love what I do.

But, does that mean that I live, eat and breathe what I do? Hell no. No one should. I make a point to set limits. After all, I'm a human being who wears a lot of hats.

You can relate, right?

Frequently, my priorities need to shift (in fact, they do daily) and I need to be open and flexible. Being stuck in one mode or the other is detrimental.

Life calls for being malleable. When you're not, what happens?

You start wishing for Friday. For Saturday. You wish your life away. But, guess what? You don't get those weeks, days or moments back. Ever. And then you start wishing that you hadn't let some things or opportunities pass by.

Friday isn't usually better than any other day. It's just another day on the calendar. Everyday, every moment - can be like Friday. Friday is a state of mind.

At least once a week, I say to one friend in particular, "What kind of magic are you going to make today?"

And she gets it.  She knows that every moment counts and that there are hidden treasures in them - even the difficult moments. And she doesn't wish the days away.

So, when we feel tangled up, physically and mentally exhausted, stretched to the limit, how can that sense of "Friday" be captured?

  • Be present in the moment, bad or good. Pay attention to yourself, your reactions to things, your surroundings.
  • Be malleable. Think about the fluidity of water. "Go with the flow!"
  • Set limits. Fill in the blank on what this means for you. Setting limits on ourselves is key. Valuing our time is essential. If we don't respect our time, no one else will.
  • Examine what you are grateful for or what makes you joyful. One person that I am linked up with on Facebook frequently lists a handful of things that she is grateful for and/or finds joy in. (It has a radiating effect, too. It reminds me to think about my own joy!)
  • When all else fails, just STOP. 
What brings you back to center - to "Friday"? 

Lorrie Shaw is a human being living in Dexter Township, MI. Connect with her on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter