How to Stop Falling Down a To-Do List Rabbit Hole



As a side-hustler, I always have a million and one things to do. I am always tapping away at my keyboard, creating workflows in Asana, updating Pixels, or collabing with other creatives.


I am always busy. So why is it some days I feel like the hours I put in actually had an impact, moved me closer to my goals, while other days I feel like I just did a whole lot of nothing?


I noticed myself having another busy-work day today. I was doing a lot, updating my Lightbox on my website, playing with the colors to make sure they were on brand. Then I hopped onto Pinterest to do some market research for upcoming content...


It all sounds legit, right?? Before I knew it, half my day was gone and for some reason I felt really guilty.


Because I am totally obsessed with personal development, I noticed the feeling of guilt and instantly took a step back. I paused everything to figure out the reason and to make a change. As I always say,


Awareness is the first step in change.

I knew I wanted to feel that warm swell of pride and fulfillment in my chest when I close my laptop tonight. So here is what I did to stop falling down the rabbit hole and refocus on my priorities:


1. REALIGN WITH YOUR PRIORITIES


If you're busy and you suddenly look up and wonder what the actual heck you've been doing, then this is a perfect opportunity to realign with your priorities.


When you're busy just for the sake of busyness, then you probably haven't defined what a successful day is. In other words, you probably didn't outline your day clearly enough.


To prevent falling down the rabbit hole in the first place, you can take 10 minutes either the night before or morning of to map your day.


If you catch yourself mid-day with nothing accomplished (like I did), I got out my notebook and journaled through my feelings.


I literally listed out my three main Goal Buckets (Career, Spiritual/Personal Growth, Family). Then I created a mind map of my goals from there. Something interesting happened as I started firming up my goals. I actually checked off several of them that day, without realizing it.


Of course, that is a positive outcome, even if a surprising one.


The other key takeaway was that I didn't have a strong definition of what I wanted to accomplish.


I had no real goal in mind. No wonder I wandered.


So, now I knew that before I start my work, I need to outline what I'm doing. Otherwise, plucking away at my laptop will never be worth it.


2. DEFINE TODAY'S NON-NEGOTIABLES


The next thing I did was to list my MUSTs for today. I knew I was attending a Live class at 1:00 pm. I knew I needed to deliver some client work. I wrote those down on my journal page.


Having the Non-Negotiables instantly gave my day a purpose. These have to get done no matter what, so anything else happening today should be built around them.


3. SET TIMERS


I am notorious for taking my sweet time. Chalk it up to perfectionism, or... nope, it's just perfectionism. I want to be the most researched, the best outlined, the cutest photographed one on the block.


I know I can take 3x as long on a project as the next person, and while I am certainly not saying you need to compare your production to anyone else, it does shine a light on my OCD.


So, I set timers. Once I have my daily priorities, I guesstimate the project time and set timers. It keeps me truckin' along.


4. ASK DEEP QUESTIONS


The final and most transformational thing I did as I was self-coaching through this was asking deep questions. I wanted to find a new way to look at my day, to flip my feelings of guilt into feelings of appreciation and accomplishment.


I asked these two questions:


1. What, if I got it done today, would I feel really proud of?


and


2. What if I got it done this week, would I feel really proud of?


Something truly amazing happened when I asked myself these questions. I got instant clarity on what project was the most important. If I was sort of clearish on my goals before, now I was clear on what I needed to do.


Self-coaching tip: When you're self-coaching, there isn't a one-size-fits-all formula to create your breakthrough. The secret to self-coaching is to simply be willing to ask yourself deep, meaningful questions and be honest with yourself.


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