Saturday, April 11, 2015

The infinite to-do list... and the power of NO!

So have you ever heard of the time management prioritization strategy with the 4 squares? You label square one Urgent/Important, square 2 Urgent/Not Important, Square 3 Important/Not Urgent, and square 4 Not Urgent/Not Important.... looks something like this...

Someone I used to work for showed me this and it was like it was supposed to revolutionize how I got things done... like it would magically make it so easy for me to see which of the thousands of things on my to-do list needed to be done first... the only problem was I spent forever trying to decide what to put in each box!

I mean in my mind the "Urgent/Not Important" category is a joke... why would something be urgent but not important! The word urgent clearly makes it IMPORTANT! But if you read about this strategy they give examples (one I still don't agree with...) I have a mental block that if something is Urgent it immediately gets Important status so it moves to the "Urgent/Important" category... which as you will see at the end of this post is my biggest category!

So "Urgent/Not Important" has left the box now down to 3. The next category I found to be a complete waste of time is the "Not Urgent/Not Important" category... why would you even need to have a category for that???? If something was not urgent or important it really shouldn't be on my list to begin with! I mean seriously?? I don't have time for not urgent and not important things.... So, down to 2 categories...

This leaves me with 2 categories: "Urgent/Important" and "Not Urgent/Important." These two boxes are where I live... I mean really I live in the "Urgent/Important" category, because come on most important things eventually become urgent if you put them off long enough.... So this is why I have an infinite to-do list all the time. I keep one of those flippy notebook paper pads around all the time. I currently have 5 in my back pack... each one full of lists of things I have to do and all the notes that go along with what I have to do. You would thing that they might be organized some way too, but no each pad is full of stuff from all different aspects of my life.. So I spend time flipping through them just to figure out what it is I am supposed to be doing next, and then I end up just making a new to-do list.... it really is a never ending cycle.

I know the person who showed me the 4 square organizing time management strategy was trying to help, but again it just added to my constant list of one more thing to do and I always started an argument with myself about the non-essential two squares. And, I have had other people offer strategies for time-management and organization as well... but to no avail.. I still have an infinite to-do list. The list keeps growing even after I cross things off...

Thus, I am left to find a solution in which I am able to cross stuff off my list, but not add things, AND find a way to determine which things on the list must get done first etc. So, I finally decided this week to say NO! That's right just say NO! We have all heard it a hundred times right? I mean "Just say NO to drugs!" We heard a thousand times growing up... Well you know, doing stuff is my drug...adding things to my to-do list is like a drug... I am constantly looking for something else to do and if someone asks me to do something there is a very slim chance that I would tell them no... I just can't resist. I want to do whatever I can to help other people, and so I always say yes. However, this week I officially took one thing off my list and handed it over to someone else. It is something I was sort of looking forward to doing, and their would have been great benefit and fun involved, BUT the cost of my time was going to be too high. SO I SAID NO. Someone else asked me about doing something next school year and being in charge of some small thing, probably not even a huge task, but I said NO.

My husband, Matt, and I have sat and talked recently about me needing to find some time again. He used to work till all hours of the night and we finally got his schedule cleared and now I am the one working till all hours of the night and on the weekends... Lots of things go undone... the house, the kids, the husband, school work... I mean really there is no way humanly possible for me to accomplish everything I have on my plate right now. This made me realize that not only do I need to say NO I am going to have to decide what can go undone. What is going to be the thing I take off the list and let it fall into that "Important but not Urgent" Category for now... because in my mind EVERYTHING is "Urgent and Important" yet I have to decide some things can just wait....

Again, I made a decision. My house is driving me nuts. It is a wreck, there is no other way to put it. And I would be embarrassed for someone to see the state my house is in right now.. stuff everywhere, laundry everywhere, the floor is scary seriously. But you know what, we are functioning, the kids don't care, my husband doesn't care, I am the one who is always flipping out about the house... and so I decided the house can wait. I will do some light picking up each day, just so we can sit and eat and that kind of thing and prevent bugs (that is important), but I am not going to stress about it. I am going to focus on what I need to get done and what has a deadline and check it off the list and then I can work on my house.... and by no means can it go in the not important not urgent box (worthless box!) but it can sit temporarily in the "Not Urgent but Important" box.


After what I feel like were some revolutionary decisions for me, I spent the day doing school work (On a Saturday), but I was able to get soooooo many things crossed of my list today! And that means I can go home and focus on the people in my house (ignoring the mess!) because those people are always going to be in the "Urgent/Important" box. All of these decisions have been in the works for a while, but it has just taken time for my heart (silly heart - read the last post) to let go of some things and my head and heart to get on the same page. I have to accept that I am only capable of doing so many things and as much as I would like to do everything all the time, I have to pick and choose...

If you are an expert at time management and organization and have strategies for the non-organized share away! I can't say that I won't get a mental block that your strategy just won't work for me, but perhaps someone else out there is like me and lives in 2 boxes constantly contemplating the urgency and importance of everything in their his/her life.

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