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As another week dawns, people all over set out to “get things done” whether that be for work, family or personal/individual reasons. Some people love their formalized ‘To Do’ lists and gleefuly check off activies; a building sense of accomplishment as more items become labeled as DONE. Then there are those individuals that loathe and fear their ‘To Do’ lists because it may overwhelm them and in this space of being overwhelmed, the list runs them-not vice versa. There’s nothing as defeating as seeing few or zero items get checked off your list. At times like these, I’ve abandoned the list and attempts at organization and resort to the ‘putting out fires’ approach to life. Of course it’s not a better method with stress, lack of control and the sense of being imbalanced seeping their way into my world. At least I know I become harried and exhausted as I jump to attend to fire items vs. when I at least attempt to make a list and tackle it.

Since about late October, I’ve been feeling inefficient and ineffective getting things accomplished in my life because I’ve been in “Firefighting” mode. I’ve decided I need to return to formalizing items/ actions that need to get done for the week ahead. I was about to resort to the tired old checklist with items prioritized by importance. However, I’ve been reading the classic self-improvement/management book, “The 7 Effective Habits of Highly Effective People”, by Stephen Covey. Covey’s approach to completing your list of things that need to be done for the week looks at a person’s roles in life and several actions/items that are important for the week in each of these roles. Once you place these items on the calendar with the already known appointments, you may see you actually have more time or at least more wiggle room. This should help a person feel less harried, stressed and attempts to achieve that feeling of balance we’d all like to have.

I decided Sunday morning to sit down and plan my schedule the Covey way. It isn’t a quick activity. You have to figure out what roles you have that week. For instance, my roles this week include: Individual, Personal Development, Job Seeker, Daughter, Student, etc. I then had to think about 2-3 items in each role that I would like to get accomplished this week. Some of these items included appointments I already had on the calendar. From this point on, I had to strategize and figure out the best combinations and most efficient ways to schedule these items onto my week’s schedule. I say best combinations because my tendency is to front load my schedule or should I say, over load it. With the span of available time for my week in front of me, I have placed many of my items to be a balance of a heavy or time consuming activity then an easier (to me) item. I have also left buffer time periods, because as we all know, something will inevitably show up unexpected.

I have to say that yesterday worked out very well. It was a nice mix of several of my roles, including daughter. That meant no longer putting off getting the few Christmas decorations hung or placed. Amazing how something so simple was causing me anxiety. The old way of the ‘To Do’ approach saw it as not being a priority vs. job hunting or student. However, it was important to my mother who can no longer do a lot of the lifting and then hanging wreaths. As a result, I was feeling anxious because I was being neglectful of my mother’s simple need. However, trying the Covey way, it was part of my Daughter role action/items. As a result, the wreaths are up and other items in the house are now up. Took less than the hour I set aside for it too! Overall, yesterday’s Day 1 resulted in my feeling calm and positive through out the day and night. That accomplished feeling had occured. It has been enough to keep me on ‘Covey Plan’ today.

As I was pre-planning this post, I found this quote by Winston Churchill that seems to sum up how I feel trying to move from putting out fires and checklist planning to a more life roles/Covey way of planning.

Let our advance worrying become advance thinking and planning.

Finally, I stumbled upon this image. Have to love that even Godzilla has embraced advance planning! Hope it makes you laugh like it did me. May you get accomplished all you hope to this week and feel that great sense of living a balanced life.

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Image: www.futuristmovies.com