Tip: There’s no denying it, we glorify people who Get Things Done. What better measure of this than the mighty to-do list? But psychologists now believe that in today’s super-subscribed world it can become an obsession.
Why: ‘Task accomplishment is an addiction of the modern age,’ says Tom DeLong, author of Flying Without A Net: Turn fear of change into fuel for success (Harvard Business School Press 2011) and professor of management practice at Harvard Business School. ‘For a particular personality type, their self-concept is associated with how many tasks they can tick off a list,’ he says. This ‘trap’ of busy-ness keeps us focused on filling our time with ticking off often meaningless tasks at the expense of the reflection, break from routine and honest conversations required for creative inspiration.
How: Make time for the things that aren’t on your list. ‘People rarely put ‘spend time with my children,’ or ‘cuddle my spouse’ on their to-do lists, yet these things are what really matter,’ says Professor DeLong. ‘You may even need to add such things to your list so you see them as important as updating your Twitter status and getting that in-tray emptied out.’ Plus, take a close look at your to-do list for tomorrow, do you really need to do that or is it on there because you simply want the satisfaction of ticking it off? For example, cleaning the house might not be as urgent as you think – when you have children to prepare for bed and a report to prepare for tomorrow. If it doesn’t really matter in the scheme of things, why not tick something off without doing it?
Long-term this is serious De-Stress stuff – coming back to ways to remembering to ask yourself what is nourishing and what is depleting you in life.
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