I must confess that I am a bit of a to-do list addict. I LOVE writing stuff down as it gets the noise out my head and on to paper where it feels so much more manageable and achievable. Until, that is, the end of the day when to-do’s remain unchecked and unachieved and I am left with a feeling of frustration and inadequacy.
Recently I have been categorising my time according to the principles of the Eisenhower matrix, which is a super simple but extremely powerful system designed to help you prioritise your time. If you are not familiar with this system, you can read more about it here. The goal is to spend the majority of your time on activities that are important but not urgent; those activities that fill your cup because they are aligned with your core principles and values. Paradoxically, despite being the things which really matter, they often get left behind when we are hustling and bustling. Examples of value-aligned activities may include spending time with your children, keeping your body fit and healthy, taking the time to plan and cook healthy meals.
Focusing on activities in this quadrant of the matrix often allows you to re-evaluate your priorities and, ultimately your life, and the realisation that many of us spend most of our time on activities which aren’t aligned with our core values, can result in a powerful paradigm shift.
When organising my to-do list these days, I proceed with the Eisenhower matrix in mind, and each morning, ask a simple question to help me re-evaluate and refocus my daily intentions. That question is “what would I regret not doing today?”
This question is powerful because it starts with the end in mind which not only allows you to visualise your future self, but it also gives you the space to decide how you are going to spend your time, rather than allowing time to decide how it will spend you. The other reason it is such a powerful question is because it switches your focus from extrinsic to intrinsic motivation. You can learn more about the difference in these motivations here.
Future visualization, combined with intrinsic motivation while being guided by your core values, puts you in control. Starting with those priorities which really matter, makes it far more likely that they will get done, and will leave you feeling more fulfilled, satisfied, and accomplished at the end of the day, even when time or circumstance robs you of the opportunity to complete other tasks.
Do you start your day with the end in mind? Comment below, I’d love to know.