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Fixing our to-do lists

As carers we probably have longer to do lists than most. Getting to the point that we feel we have done enough and can relax, guilt free, is a rare place. Let's face it there will always be something more we can do to keep on top of things, to improve the quality of life of the person we care for and to be ready for whatever lies ahead.

Illustration of teamwork.
"Create time for the things that are important to us and carve out some time for guilt free rest."

This series of videos offers a number of strategies, reflections and tools to help. Most importantly we are not trying to train ourselves to be more productive and to take on even more, rather we want to create time for the things that are important to us and carve out some time for guilt free rest.

You can watch the videos one at a time and leave yourself sometime to reflect in between. Or commit an hour, make yourself a nice cuppa and shut yourself away and treat yourself to this as a free mini course. Grab a notebook and let's get started!

Video one: Introduction

This is not about doing more or packing more into our already busy lives. Together we will focus on doing more of the right things, creating time for guilt free downtime and just being.

The first step : Choose two things to work on

1) A regular, common or routine task that we want to get done more easily.

2) A goal that is for us, this might be a bigger project, a dream we have or something else that matters to us.

Video two: Why do we procrastinate?

We are hard wired to avoid discomfort or pain. So if something is difficult, overwhelming or just plain boring we are not going to naturally take ourselves in that direction.

For each of the two things we are working on identify what the pain or discomfort is. Then we can reflect on this a little - do we need to push through with some self-discipline and just get things done, or is there something deeper going on here that we first need to address?

Video three: Random acts of kindness

Kindness is thriving. By changing someone else's life for a small moment we can make a difference to ourselves too. If we are stuck with dull to do lists of unrewarding, never ending tasks that we trudge through why would we add something else to our to do list? What if this kick started our motivation?

Go ahead, let's take action. Look out for an opportunity to deliver a 'random act of kindness' Or better still, plan one in to help us get in the habit.

Video four: What is the price of procrastination?

For some of our regular tasks if we don't get them done there is often a price to pay. For example spending extra time doing something because we're not organised. For those bigger important goals the price could be even higher, missed opportunities, missing out on a fulfilled life or feeling resentful.

Thinking about each of the two things we are working on. Make a note of the specific price of procrastination for each of these. Bringing our awareness to this simple and possibly obvious thing can be powerful.

Video five: Myth busting

Do we really work better under pressure? Are we really the only person that can do these things on our to do list? And are we really "too busy" to take a break?

Let's take a moment to challenge these beliefs. How is holding on to these beliefs getting in the way of us working on that routine, common, regular task? What about that bigger dream or goal we have. What beliefs do we have that might be getting in the way of making important progress?

Video six: What are we afraid of?

We're all afraid of different things, snakes, spiders, heights and public speaking are common ones. Fear is natural and generally has the positive intention of keeping us safe. But what about when our fears stop us from getting important things done? Fear of confrontation, bad news and uncomfortable feelings might be getting in our way.

Next steps - first let's take a look at what we are afraid of. Then let's take a closer look, is this a real and justified fear about something that could happen or are we anticipating a worst case scenario that is unlikely? Perhaps we need support from someone to help us face a very real fear or maybe we need to name that fear so that it can shrink and be less overwhelming.

Video seven: Why are we so busy?

Busyness is often pointing towards an "unmet need". We don't want to miss out, or we don't want those we care for to miss out. Perhaps we want to be needed, important, involved or informed. Some of us are pursuing more things or money. Or maybe we don't know how to not be busy, how to relax. Busyness can also be a strategy that we use to avoid dealing with something difficult like an emotion or experience we need to process.

Some questions for us to reflect on:

Look back over today - how much of today was a priority?

Or look ahead. What does an ideal day look like?

What are the choices we make that take us away from our ideal day?

Are there things we can do that will make us less busy?

How could making ourselves less busy help us with the two things we are working on?

Video eight: Focus and clarity

Trying to get things done when we lack focus and clarity can make us inefficient, miserable and irritated. So what might be getting in the way of focus and clarity?

  • Trying to multi task

  • Need to rest and recharge

  • Overloaded with information

How might having times of focus and clarity help us with the things we are working on?

What do we need to do create more focus and clarity? Make a note if there is something we are committing to do that might help. And tell someone. Do connect with other unpaid carers in our community!

Video nine: Perfectionism

Perfectionism can prevent us from making a start, or can prevent us from finishing something. How about making a simple swap, rather than trying to achieve perfection we can simply "head towards excellence".

Something for us to think about - How is perfectionism getting in the way of getting things done? In particular that regular task we are looking at and the bigger project or goal that is important to us.

Find out more about Growth Mindset (Carol Dweck) here.

Video 10 - Is it a task or a project?

When an item sits on our to do list and doesn't get easily ticked off it's often because it's too big to simply get done, it's a project not a task. We can break it down, plan ahead, create a timeline and walk through it one step at a time.

Find out more about how to use Trello here.

At the end of this series we can take a moment to reflect back on what we have learnt.

  • How can this be applied to other things on your to do list?

  • What have you learnt about yourself?

  • What will you try differently in the future?

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