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Are you hostage to your to-do list?

By Dr. John Demartini


1. How can list-keeping benefit you?


List-keeping can help you organize your daily thoughts, agendas and actions and keep you on top priorities, which can certainly raise your self-worth and self-image and help you achieve more of what you would love. It can even help you maintain your beauty by reducing stress. List-keeping can help you keep your mind clear and inspired and your body more proactive and yet relaxed. List keeping can help you develop habits that can provide you an advantage in your busy and competitive world.


2. How can obsessive list-keeping disadvantage you?


But list keeping or writing 'to do lists' can become obsessive and an unconscious way of sometimes dodging the necessary and highest priority actions that are wise to be accomplished if they are not acted upon. Analyzing what needs to be done, instead of actually getting things done can interfere with many daily accomplishments. The key is to use your to-do-lists to take high priority actions. You will feel more fulfilled at the end of each day when you accomplish what was most important.


3. What kind of person is a list-keeper?


List-keepers are ones who have the intentions of keeping things straight in their minds and who want to focus on their primary objectives without having to fill their memories with too many to-dos. A short pencil is greater than a long memory. List-keepers are more likely to get important things done and feel less scattered and overwhelmed.


4. Why are list-keepers prone to keeping to-do lists?


List-keepers have discovered the utility of organizing their thoughts, agendas and actions and helped them remember their priorities so they can accomplish more in less time. Once to-do-lists are composed, then all that is needed is to act on or implement them in order and experience the rewards for their accomplishments.


5. How can you make list-keeping work for you, rather than you being a slave to it?


Document what worked and did not work for you each day and add what worked to your growing daily check list. Also, document what you are grateful for each day on a daily blessings list so as to reflect on what you have been blessed to have had the opportunity to experience or accomplish. Keep your to-do-lists in a file or vertical box after they have been fulfilled and over time look at which priorities have been most consistently the highest priorities of the priorities and then initiate your super most important actions to do in life from this super list.             


6. How can we get the most out of writing a to-do list?


Make sure that your to-do-list includes items or actions that extend only within your time horizon. Make sure they are of the highest priorities. Make sure they are truly what inspire you and offer you're the deepest meaning. Have them where you will most easily fulfill them, either next to your bed, at your office desk so you will take advantage of their power.  


7. Can list-keeping actually make you less effective?


If you have to-do-lists that are overwhelming in number, too long in time horizon or unclear and un-chunked (Not broken down into small enough action steps to override inertia) then checklist can frustrate and lead to action indigestion.


8. What are the basic pros and cons of being a very organised list-keeper?


Keep your to-do-lists to the actions that are truly of highest priority and proven to work and keep them a simply written as possibly. Keep them to daily actions at first until you are certain that your time horizons will allow longer reminders. A check list acts as a check up from the neck up. Those who set the agendas rule the game of life.


9. What are your guidelines when it comes to effective list-keeping?


Contemplate what is truly most important to do each day and compose your to-do-list accordingly. If you don't fill your day with high priorities that inspire your life, you will end up dealing with lower priorities that breed desperation. If you don't plant flowers in the garden of your mind you will forever pull weeds.


10. How can a person learn to let go of the list and live their life without being ruled by it?


By prioritizing your daily to-do-list every day and your daily checklists every quarter (3 months) and determining which actions are truly most important, which ones are most suited to you, which ones are most productive and meaningful and delegating the other lower priority actions to others or even possibly your children, who are more perfectly designed to do them, you free yourself of unnecessary and less fulfilling activities that burden your mind and body and add stress to your daily, monthly and yearly routines.


11. Any final thoughts, comments?


I have used check lists for over 35 years and found them to be immeasurably valuable. They key is to make sure that the daily actions are truly top priorities that can lead repetitively to your top performance, your most inspired actions and your greatest fulfilment.



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