After processing my brain dump, I looked down at my resultant action list with disappointment. I was disappointed because when I looked at the first item I thought “I can’t do that now”. When I looked at the second item I thought “I don’t want to do that”. Shoot. All that work and I still look at my list and feel like playing cards instead.
So I forced myself to look further.
What are the hindrances in my action list?
- Wrong Context. Typical thoughts were: “I can’t do that now” or a nagging feeling that I wasn’t addressing the right projects at the right time. This also came up because I’m beginning to spend too much time in my home office working. Sure, I’m getting lots of work done, but if I don’t spend some time doing other things, I’ll burn out.
- This isn’t an action, it is a project. This was my most common problem.
- Action unclearly supports a project not on my project list. This is a kind of stupid example, but it really brings it home. On my list was, “Stop and get gas in the truck”. For some reason, I hate doing this. Because I’m in the middle of implementing this system, I even had a reminder two other places—“Get Gas in the Truck”. Did I do it? Nope. I finally HAD to stop at the really expensive place or run out of gas before I made it home. WHY am I avoiding this? Another question I could ask is “Why does this bug me?” I did get gas and I didn’t run out. But for some reason I feel compelled to have it on my list and do it before it is a crisis. Why? The very first thought that came to my head was: I have a chronically sick child. Many times in her life, I’ve had to drop everything and rush to a hospital. What if my truck was out of gas? AHA!!! As I have that thought, I have an urge to drop everything and go get gas in my truck—even though I don’t need to!!! I have an unwritten goal to be prepared for unexpected medical emergencies. As soon as I got clear on that goal, I quickly saw several projects that are on my someday maybe that support that goal that I’m not acting on because I wasn’t clear why those projects are important to m.
The magic question seemed to be “WHY?” Why don’t you want to do it now? Why is it on my list at all? Once I answer these questions, I bet I’ll be able to achieve my goal: To look down at my action list for my current context and only have about a dozen actions—all of which I could do at that moment without guilt or stress.