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Coach Paradise: Add This To-Do List to Your To-Do List

Dear Coach Paradise,
I need help. My to-do list has over 100 items on it and I look at it and cringe. I can't seem to make a dent in it before having to add more to-dos. I feel like all I do is put out fires and that my life is one big juggling act with balls crashing down all around me. I do manage to keep my head above water, but just, and am tired of feeling like I'm on a treadmill. Not to mention the holidays coming up, which downloads another 100 to-dos.
I know there are organizational coaches and coaches who help people prioritize, de-stress and find balance. I am looking forward to your words of wisdom and am really checking into working with a coach. Advice is great, but I know from experience that having a personal trainer has kept me on track at the gym and with my body. I am assuming a coach would do the same for my life.
Signed,
Too Many To-Dos
Dear To-Do Challenged,
What a fabulous question! I know that many of my reader will be able to relate. We are all looking for strategies to accomplish what needs to be done so that we have energy to spare and feel that we have choices rather than being buried alive beneath our piles.
We spend too much time as Human Doers rather than Human Beings. In my coaching book, Being precedes Doing. When it doesn't, we run around like chickens with their heads cut off. Keeping active and busy is what we are taught as the way to get ahead, stay on top and be successful. Messages surround us telling us to do it more, do it better and faster — "Just Do It." Sylvia Boorstein, a spiritual teacher has titled one of her books Don't Just Do Something, Sit There. Make you feel nervous?
When our actions move us toward goals that are dear to us, they have a different quality — a focused sense of purpose that feels different from the compulsive, addictive quality that is often brought to bear in to-do lists. We are often busy doing to avoid looking at our lives, to stave off our fear of not having enough time, money, talent, good looks, etc. We take on mortgages that are too big, accept too many clients, cut corners because we are so pressed for time and make decisions that we regret.
So, what's the solution? You may be looking for a deeper, new way to look at and live your life. In this case, a coach would be the personal trainer who would not only keep you on track but also help you figure out what the track really is for you. Or you may be looking for a way to approach your to-do list so that you don't want to scream and run the other way. Try the following "placemat process," as described in Ask and It Is Given by Esther and Jerry Hicks. It is a playful way to begin shifting your energy around your to-do list and relieving your sense of being bogged down. Take my word for it, it works!
Take a large paper placemat (or any other piece of paper) and draw a line down the center. Head the left side: "Things I will do today." Head the right side: "Things I would like the universe to do." Look over your endless to-do list and select only those things that you absolutely intend to do today. Things you must do and things you really want to do. Err on the side of minimalism — i.e. start with no more than five items. Then put everything else on the universe's side of the placemat.
I suggest that as you transfer everything else to the universe you may feel lighter, less confused and less overwhelmed. All you need to focus on (for today) is your side of the placement. You may notice that you can easily accomplish your own short and manageable list and feel good about it. You may be surprised at how some of the items on the universe's side get accomplished, too — without requiring your attention or action. People who you need to call may call you. Something may get done by someone else, or become irrelevant in light of some new development. Tomorrow you can review the list and move your short, manageable list of to-do's to the left, add whatever comes up to either side and cross off what has been done.
This is a fun way to prioritize, focus on what you do want, "let go and let god" and stop feeling overwhelmed and dragged down. And it is when we are feeling good that we allow things to fall into place and lead us to exactly what we really do want. Juggling with the universe, so to speak!
To you and the universe,
Coach Paradise
Editor's note: Coach Paradise (AKA Anne Nayer), Professional Life Coach, is a member of the International Coaching Federation, an MSW clinical social worker-psychotherapist and a medical case manager with 30 years experience working with people of all shapes, sizes and challenges.
For further information about her services, call 774-4355 or email her.

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