This exercise consists of revising your daily or weekly tasks in light of your long-term goals or intentions.
There’s probably some redundancy between this and some of our other tips, but the main point is when we get focused — just on creating and running through our to-do lists — it’s very easy to find ourselves racing from one task to the next and feeling like we are being very productive. But that productivity raises such questions as “What are those things that are getting done?” and “Are they the right things for us in order to act in line with our intentions?”
Stephen Covey, a productivity guru and author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, said (and I’m paraphrasing), “When you’re climbing the ladder of success, make sure it’s the right ladder.” You can get to the top with that ladder and feel like you’ve accomplished a lot, but if it’s the wrong ladder, what have you really accomplished? If you succeeded at the wrong thing for you, then what have you really succeeded at?
The same principle applies to tasks.
Completing the tasks on your to-do list and crossing them off is very satisfying. It gives us a hit of dopamine. But if we’re not mindful about it, we can end up getting addicted to updating the to-do list, doing the tasks, and then as our tasks, situations, goals, and intentions change, we might find ourselves mindlessly carrying out tasks on the list that aren’t really aligned with our intentions.
So here’s a simple way of putting this: It’s fine and great to make to-do lists and use them to help remember and organize things to do in an efficient manner. I’m not criticizing that. I’m just saying that you should periodically go back to the list and not just ask yourself, “What have I gotten done? What have I not gotten done?” or “What’s left to do?” but revisit what your intentions were. Maybe it was that big New Year’s goal. Maybe it’s other smaller intentions that you set for the week.
You can then ask yourself, “Are the things that I have gotten done in the last week in line with my intentions? If I consider the outcome of tasks that are not yet done, do I still want or need to do them in order to be in line with my intentions? Should I take these things off the to-do list without doing them, should I add other things to the to-do list, or should I modify the existing ones in light of my intentions?”
This helps you recalibrate your to-do list over time to make sure it doesn’t fall out of alignment with your intentions.
Earlier, I said one of the things you might find yourself doing is taking things off the list without completing them just because they’re no longer in line with your intentions. Ask yourself whether you have ever just taken an item off the list not because you completed it but because you decided that you no longer wanted or needed to do it since it didn’t align with your goals anymore.
Additionally, if you do take something off the list without completing it because it’s no longer in line with your intentions, take note of how you feel about that. As a task- and productivity-oriented person, I often experience some pangs of guilt — some feeling that arises and tells me, “I should have done this thing” even though applying mindfulness suggests that I no longer want or need to do it. At that point, you can examine the feeling and perhaps not have your actions driven or dictated by it.
So I think there are a lot of ways to apply mindfulness to your to-do list — not necessarily in order to make yourself more productive or efficient but just to make sure that the way you’re spending your time or performing your tasks is actually in line with what you’ve set as your intentions.
Whether you’re a writer, an artist, or simply trying to figure out a creative solution to a difficult problem, there’s one thing standing in your way. One thing that would have never been a problem 15 years ago! Just one little thing that’s blocking your way to thinking more creatively. What is it? Technology, of course.
We all struggle with anxiety once in awhile, but for some it can feel worse and more difficult to control. At times, it can feel nearly debilitating. Some turn to meditation, others visit psychiatrists despite their fears of the stigma it holds. But there’s another way to help you control your anxiety… no medication, no stigma, and you can do it from your phone! What is it?
Winter Feast is a 40 day Worldwide Spiritual Practice Period everyone is invited to join.
It’s for people of all faiths who take part in committing 40 minutes of spiritual practice each day for forty days. The intention behind Winter feast is to create peace in each individual’s life and to extend to others as well. Participants are also invited to practice daily acts of kindness. Although it may seem like only a small group of people setting out to do this, the impact of such an act can be much greater.
“Never doubt that a small group of committed people can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.” — Margaret Mead
Winter Feast is from the morning of January 15th until February 23rd. As most of the Northern Hemisphere is deep in winter during this time, it’s a perfect way to begin the New Year to reconnect with spirit and bring our awareness to a new level.
“What nine months does for the embryo, forty early mornings will do for your growing awareness.” — Rumi
Typically, when we think about mindfulness, we think about avoiding technology—putting away our smartphones, taking a break from TV or computers. But really, technology and mindfulness aren’t so different. How? They’re both tools to help us solve problems and achieve certain objectives… one is just focused on external problems while the other focuses on the internal.
In our busy lives, we’re always going, we’re always doing, and we’re always helping others. So where does this leave time for taking care of ourselves? For most of us, self-care falls on the back burner. We’re burning ourselves out by always helping others, which actually isn’t helping anyone—especially yourself.
Today, people use their phones for a variety of different tasks and we’re using them all throughout the day! In fact, many people spend 5+ hours per day using their smartphones. And while technology can help us in countless ways, it’s not always the best thing for us. I mean, take a look at Generation Z, the generation that has grown up with technology, and you’ll see the changes it brings about in us as individuals!
We’ve seen hilarious videos and stories of the problems smartphone distraction can cause—I mean, hilarious for us, rather embarrassing for them. Things like running into (and falling into) a water fountain in the middle of a city, or walking straight into a construction zone, both while staring at the phone screen. How are we so enthralled by our phones? How do we allow them to distract us so much? And what else are we missing out on if we’re missing these blatantly obvious obstacles in front of us?