Take one thing off your to-do list: Happiness Project week 9

I was a bit dubious before starting my March Happiness Project resolutions. I wasn’t sure if including ‘Slow Down’ as a theme would be worth while/worth my time. That goes to show my attitude of rushing through life and feeling each little spec of time needs to be working for me. Slowing Down is exactly what I need.

So far I’ve been particularly struck by these three of this month’s resolutions

Take one thing off the to-do list each day

No multi-tasking

Give yourself longer than you need

And it’s not that I’ve found these the easiest, but in whatever way they’ve each been helping me a lot.

The benefits of shortening my to-do list

I’ve managed to stick to taking one thing off my to-do list each day every day. I was worried I wouldn’t, being a chronic overachiever, but I knew it would probably be a really useful thing to do. I wasn’t wrong.

At first I started writing my to-do list and just not adding something I thought of. But I decided this was kind of cheating, as I could kid myself that I’d removed something when really I hadn’t added it as the list was already full.

Now I make sure to write out my list, cross one thing out and put removed next to it. It’s not always easy, often I feel everything on the list has to be done that day. But I’ve done it, and so far no catastrophe has happened by not doing that one thing. I’ve completed my list items every day, which makes me feel happy. I’ve done them in good time, and I feel I’ve done them better than I would had I been trying to squeeze too many things in.

I’m having to deal with some feelings of guilt over not achieving enough with my day, but I’ve identified this as my warped perception of my time and something I can (and want to) work to change.

No multi-tasking (especially during meetings)

I’ll admit I’m still struggling with controlling my phone time, and the multi-tasking I do by going on social media in a break from work or even during down time. I know it’d be much better to take a real break instead, and dedicate actual time to social media and emails.

On those occasions where I have limited my email checking and social media time to a few times per day my head has felt so much clearer. I definitely recommend it!

The other multi-tasking I’m working to control (with limited success) is doing other things whilst on the phone/Skype. It’s quite common for me to check my emails during a work meeting. I’d never do this in person, so I need to stop. It’s been quite tricky to stop myself, but when I have managed it I’ve got more out of the conversation and felt clearer afterwards.

Give yourself longer than you need

This March resolution, along with my ‘prepare in advance’ resolution from January, has the ability to really transform my life. I’d feel so much happier if I prepared in advance for the day/event ahead, and gave myself longer than I needed to get there or get set up. I’d be calmer, level-headed and more relaxed. But it is SO hard for me to do. Probably because I’m still trying to squeeze too much into my time (to get the most out of every minute) and so leaving later than I should etc.

Gretchen Rubin has an excellent Try This at Home relate to this in her Happier podcast. Episode 101 introduces a tip she got from Wil Wheaton’s blog. The tip is to do something for your future self. I will think of my future self whenever I don’t feel like preparing in advance or giving myself longer than I need.

Do you have difficulty with any of these resolutions? Or any tips related to any of these? Plus, let me know if you’ve tried taking one thing off your to-do list!

About ecarr

Ellen is a writer and theatre maker who has just taken the freelance plunge after too many years of 9-5 office life. She is a yoga teacher in training and passionate about pursuing your dreams.

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