A Reserve of Time

The only thing more important than your to-do list is your to-be list.

The only thing more important than your to-be list is to be." 

~Alan Cohen

I am just starting the 5th month of the 2017 New Year's resolution - Healthy, Abundant Living. Now is a good time to pause a moment to reflect on accomplishing those tasks that make a difference in my life.

One area that drains time reserves is the never ending to-do list. So, this month let's tackle this issue and develop a new habit.

To-Do… To-Do… Lots of people have to-do lists. Making a list is a feel-good activity, organizing thoughts and putting to paper all the things we want to accomplish. People love to develop a comprehensive list of all activities and to-do items, then spend more time checking off accomplishment. Feels good! But,think about this: sometimes the habit of producing the to-do lists takes time away from the actual doing.

Lists tend to grow as time passes. Like a snowball rolling downhill, lists pick up more and more jobs along the way. It is way to easy to become overwhelmed with all that needs to get done.

As we diligently put pen to paper, we are filled with good intentions. These are the tasks we hope to get done someday. However, when commitment is missing, tasks begin to fill the pages and those to-do's never get completed. A common saying is, "I'll do it when I have the time!"

Lists are no substitute for planning and scheduling. The most important thing to do is to set aside a block of time on your daily appointment planner/calendar to accomplish a specific task. This step translates intentions into an allotted time for action.

If we stopped writing long lists of things to do, then we would have more time to do them.

May Challenge: Take the next 30 days to change the habit of list making. Rather than producing long to-do lists, pull out your calendar or day planner and block off adequate time each day to accomplish those things that you have consistently pushed to the back burner. A new habit is developing! Remember, you goal is to accomplish the important, but not urgent.

Stephen Covey Urgent / Important Matrix


Top Ten Personal Productivity Tools:

Tools are an important part of any task and absolutely necessary to stay productive. Yet,  it is not the tools that enhance your productivity, but how well you use and maintain them. It is all about balance.

There is an old adage referring to taking time to sharpen the saw in order to increase productivity. When you are too busy sawing (producing), you tend to forget to take time to sharpen the saw (maintenance). The following tools, if kept sharp, will keep all aspects of life running smoothly.

  1. Dayplanner/Calendar – Use only one dayplanner/calendar and block off personal and family time first.
  2. Tickler File System – This is a place to put time-sensitive papers that require a future action.
  3. Contact Manager – Whether paper or electronic, this system maintains addresses, phone numbers and pertinent contact information. Consider cross referencing names and categories. Then, if you don’t remember the computer repairman’s name, you will always find him under ‘Computer Repairs.’
  4. To-Do List – Lists are no substitute for planning and scheduling, but, if used wisely, they can augment the process to turn intentions into action. Title your lists with action words , such as "To Call," "Errands to Run," "To Read," and so on. Remember to list your priorities rather than prioritize your lists.
  5. Colored File Folders – With the use of color, you can identify files or categories three times faster than the standard military-green folders. Consider using emerald green for files that bring in the money, red for expenses, and yellow for action files.
  6. Telephone – As AT&T once said, "Let your fingers do the walking." Call ahead.
  7. Telephone Headset/Ear buds – Saves the neck and chiropractic expense.
  8. Voice Mail – This tool controls interruptions - turn off the ringer. Make sure your outgoing message educates the caller. Ask for the information you need to make informed decisions, especially the return phone number.
  9. E-mail – Enhanced speed of communications. Keep messages clear, concise and one topic only. Consider using "Response Needed" or "No Response Necessary" in the subject line.
  10. Wastebasket – 80% of all papers filed are never looked at again. Utilize the circular file more.

A tool is simply something that aids in the performance of an operation. Tools cannot make you more productive, but if used effectively and efficiently, tools enhance productivity. Take some time to open your toolbox of possibilities and be diligent in usage and maintenance. Keep them sharp!

Are you constantly making to-do lists?

Do you find that your lists are getting longer and what gets accomplished is less and less?

Are you ready to take a few steps to move intentions into action?

Share your ideas with us by filling in the comment section below.

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