Reframing with New Questions
I have a bad habit of writing my to-do lists on little scraps of paper and then losing them. This means, of course, that I have to write a new list that includes “find other lists.” Clearly, it’s a flawed system.
As it turns out, plugging along, checking off item after item might not even be the best approach. I had always believed, as I’m sure many of us do, that the key to productivity is in volume. Get as much stuff done as you possibly can. Write it down. Faster, faster! Over the past few years, however, I’ve noticed a shift in productivity rhetoric. Now it’s about prioritizing. It’s not about doing all the things, it’s about dong the right things. Sometimes, it’s even about doing the one right thing that matters more than any of the other things.
But if you’re like me, you may be unsure what your One Thing is. If your One Thing is a little hazy and you don’t know where to begin, I would like to suggest a different approach. Let’s back up and ask what questions our days are answering.
An article in Forbes on Appreciative Inquiry suggests that every action we take is preceded by a question. So, when we wake up, check email, and immediately start tackling the to-do list, the question we’re implicitly answering is, “How much can I do today?” Changing the questions make the day look very different.
Imagine how our days would look if our actions were in response to questions like:
- How can I challenge myself today?
- How can I be creative?
- What can I do today to express love for my family?
- How can I best contribute to my team?
- How can I keep my energy level up throughout the day?
These questions would lead to different activities, wouldn’t they? And probably a different attitude as well. Imagine how different our days would look if we were consciously focusing on the questions that mean the most to us. From this vantage point, there is nothing wrong with to-do lists, assuming you don’t lose them. Making the questions explicit and trying to shape our activities around them will make prioritization a lot easier.
If Your Shoulders Tend to Be Up By Your Ears…
On a separate note, as I public service announcement, I would like to direct your attention to this article on aging and wellness. It’s full of good tips, but before you get sidetracked by the length of your telomeres (because who wants to worry about how short and squatty their telomeres are?) scroll down to the “Unlock Tension in the Diaphragm'” section. This pose uses two tennis balls to massage the spine and open the upper back. Personally, I don’t love the mid-back portion since it feels a little like I’m being punched in the kidneys. I skip straight to the upper back, arms-over-the-head part. The idea here is that we’re oxygenating the blood and tissues and activating the vagus nerve. And it’s heavenly. I’ve been doing this a few minutes a day lately and I feel so much more relaxed afterwards. I think it helps release some of the tension I’m carrying in my shoulders.
Note: I will be taking next week off and don’t plan to post. I hope you have a wonderful week and I’ll see you in a couple weeks!