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How to design a ToDo list to sync productivity with happiness

How to design a ToDo list to sync productivity with happiness
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You're reading Entrepreneur India, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.

What is productivity? Number of tasks you finish per hour or, the impact you produce by finishing a task?

“You don’t keep TODO’s to do more work every day; but to prevent yourself from cluelessness.”

Most of you will go with the later one, which is true as well, however does that end there? Or, is this where the real struggle to stay productive, starts?

There are days when you feel super productive at the end of your day, and there are days when you feel like been wasted your time. We all have different methods of keeping ourselves on toe by continuously adding and updating tasks to our TODO list, to stay more productive, and to make most out of our every waking hour.

However there is a pattern almost every one of us find that sometime we mark lot of TODO list items complete, but we still don’t feel great about the day. And, then there are days when we feel like been wasted more than half our working day, and suddenly you just attend one or two things, and you go home happy, excited about your day.

So the question arises, what is the real measure of productivity?

Every one of us is alive on earth with dreams that we are chasing. Small or large, dreams and desires are what drive us every day. And the absence of these, which is rare but a reality, make people feel depression, anxiety and state of cluelessness.

We all face mornings unsure of where to start, what to attend first, and that’s why TODO lists were invented. A daily activity guide, which you design for yourself, to keep yourself out of the negative mental states I mentioned above. In fact, you don’t keep TODO’s to do more work every day; but to prevent yourself from cluelessness.

However, finishing off TODO’s alone doesn’t make people happy. To No One. Neither me, nor you. Because a major land share of your TODO list is covered with your commitments, and not dreams. Majority of your TODO list items come from your work life and your duties.

So when you see your TODO list every morning it looks something like this:

  • Call Brian to set meeting appointment
  • Draft AGC sales proposal
  • Review weekly progress report with operation team
  • Finalize contract terms for new leads
  •  Meet Linda on lunch for alliance proposal
  • And so on…

And a person like me will never be smiling & excited, seeing such list every morning, not even you. Because at the back of our mind, we have lot of unattended things, undecided about, un-talked, yet looks like important to attend, but you just don’t have enough time to attend any of them in your existing schedule.

Open Loops

Let’s call them Open Loops, a term coined by David Allen in his world famous productivity methodology called GTD ie. Getting Things Done.

So there are hundreds of open loops in our subconscious mind that keeps telling us at the backstage that there are many more things to attend, to think about and to decide upon. This creates the sense of anxiety, and is responsible for negative feeling the days you finished many tasks, but didn’t feel great about.

What you can do about these open loops?

It’s no brainer to tell you to put all of these open loops on a paper. Document them somewhere and put them into a prioritized list to attend one by one, but as I said it’s no brainer to tell you this.

The important aspect is, to cover all open loops, from all of the areas of your life, even if you don’t see them important against your urgent and pressing issues of the day. How? What? Why? Here we come to our jackpot called #HappyList.

#HappyList: How to design a TODO list that keeps you happy.

In his book, 7 Habits of highly effective people - Stephen Covey mentioned a methodology to identify all of the characters or, roles you play in your life like CEO, Father, Learner, Philanthropist, Social Animal, and A Son.

And then list down all of the commitments, wishes and desires from each of these roles you play. Then every week, choose items from each of these roles, and prepare your weekly TODO lists.

Don’t worry if you still see more tasks from your professional life, because this new #HappyList is going to make you feel more in control and having attended all aspects of your life, every day. That’s where the happiness lies.

The Science behind #HappyList

When you have a sight of all of the areas of your life, you feel like being in control, and having everything attended. And humans incline to feel in control of their circumstances.

By keeping a set of tasks from every important area, and every important role of your life, you will leave nothing unattended from any portion of your life, in everyday life, and that creates a sense of fulfillment. And within such a scenario you will feel mental freedom even in 9-5 job schedule.

Try designing your #HappyList and if it works for you, please spread the words to help others live their dreams, and a better life.

Retweet this article with #HappyList or write your article on #HappyList and share with world. Because spread the good, and good will return.

Edition: December 2016

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