Choosing Today over To-Do

Have you ever found yourself in a room with no idea why you walked in there or what you were going to do? Or maybe you’ve missed your exit on the freeway because you were thinking about something else. Or (this happens to me far too often and is kind of embarrassing) you are having a conversation with someone, and then you realize that you spaced out and have no idea what they just said… but you kinda feel like you need to respond. That is the worst!


If you give it a little thought, you can see we spend a lot of our time living in the past, thinking about things like performance evaluations, quarterly reports, and asking ourselves what we could have done better or differently. We also spend a lot of time in the future focused on projections, budget planning, forecasting, and prospecting. 


But how much time do we really spend in the present, right now?


Meditation has been a morning ritual that I have been working on intensively for the past year to help with presence. It has been transformational, but I definitely have a love-despise relationship with it. Some days I cannot find that flow, and I sit there and watch the unending string of my thoughts marching by like a Fourth of July parade in Mainstreet, USA. Other days, I fall into meditation so deeply, I come out feeling more restored than after a month-long vacation. 


Along with meditation, I’ve also gotten into using my Best Self Journal (use code “ithrowstarfish” for a 15% discount!). For every morning and evening, there is a space to answer, “This morning/tonight I am grateful for…” Seeing this section presented every day, no matter how s#!%ty my day has been, reminds me there is always a silver lining to be found. The journal forces me to bring my awareness to things that were good in my day, rather than allowing me to ruminate on what I could have done better. 


To help me become more present and appreciative of everything I already have in this moment right now, I have also been working on my to-do list. And I don’t mean just checking things off; I mean revamping it entirely. Having worked with humxn behavior and corporate training for years, I can confidently say you are not alone if your daily to-do list rivals the length of War and Peace. But why do we set ourselves up each day by saying, “Here are the things I MUST get done today, or I’m a failure,” all the while knowing there will never be enough hours in the day for that list. Instead, I’m keeping my list short. I still have a gargantuan list of things I’d like to do, but it is no longer my daily to-do list. I pick the top two to three things I want to accomplish each day, and I focus only on those. Then, when I achieve them, I celebrate my success. If I have extra time, I may tackle one or two more things. But I know the big list is not my list for today. 


I know what you’re about to say. “Bunny, you don’t understand. I have so much I have to get done. Two or three things just won’t cut it!” If you’ve managed to convince yourself that every single thing on your list needs doing by you, right now, here’s some perspective: After spending weeks in the hospital following severe heart episodes, being out of work for four months after my second daughter was born, and losing another four months to a car accident and concussion, I can promise you any item on your to-do list is not as important as you think. There are so many things on that list that can be delegated, automated, or outsourced. If you stepped back, some of them might even get done without you. But either way, very few things truly need your attention today. 


Ironically, the things that do need your attention might not even be on your to-do list. They might be at school (or at least distance-learning in the other room) while you are reading this. They might be sitting at their own desks, reading their own inspirational articles, working on their personal development and motivation. If you’re thinking of them, right now, send them a text. Let them know you love them, that they’re on your mind, and that you are grateful for them. 


If we are lucky, tomorrow will come. But there’s no guarantee it will. This moment, right now, is all that we have. Make it count, not by crossing off your to-do list, but maybe, just for one day, forgetting that list altogether.


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