I confess. I love my “to do” list. I feel super accomplished when I get to check things off the list. It feels good to see , right there in black and white, that I did actually get something done. The truth is that my to do list also keeps me focused on what is most important. How did I discover this beautiful and effective system, that really works for me? I had a great coach.
She listened deeply and discovered that I have a driving need to get to results. But there were big obstacles in my way. The nature of my work, and that of many people is not task specific. Not everything gets done every day. Shifting priorities also impact what I do. Sound familiar?
My coach followed up with three really brilliant questions to ensure that creating a daily to do list was the right structure to help me get to my objective. She asked:
What is the optimal number of items per day for your list? This is a simple but profound question. It gets to the heart of what’s important to me AND made me take a serious look at getting out of my own way.
How can you take the big stuff and break it down into smaller increments? Another simple and maybe even obvious question – this one made me move out of “overwhelm” and into a place of choice. I could feed my need to accomplish something, but not freak out over the fact that the humongous, hairy project wasn’t done, and probably never would be!
What will make it okay to have an incomplete list? – Okay this was a tough one. I will stay up until 3:00am just to check one more thing off my list and my coach knows it. Realistically that makes me more tired, less effective, and more prone to making poor decisions. So we explored a bit and hit on a number that works for me.
It isn’t enough to just find the tool or resource that works. Coaching goes beyond the obvious, even when exploring the obvious. It goes deeper that what’s visible. It is a progression over time that can have long term, profound effects on the person being coached. I say go big, or go home.