I start almost every week with two lists. They are written on a legal pad. One list is things I need to do for work. The other is personal to-do’s.
I would love to tell you about my neat system of keeping track of my top priorities and that I always do the “A-list” things first. I would also like to say that I have a massive celebration at 5 p.m. on Friday because this list is done.
Reality is different. Some weeks, my list has very few things crossed off. Sometimes, I work on low-priority items way too much.
Most weeks, several items jump on the list that I had no idea were coming. (It’s only 1:30 p.m. on Monday, and something big just jumped on my list that I wasn’t expecting.)
This week, I have to:
- Take the air conditioner out of the living room window.
- Work on our org chart.
- Sign up for volunteer hours.
- Review our new employee handbook.
The list is much longer, and most of the tasks are pretty routine and not exciting, so I can get grouchy just looking at it.
But a few years ago, I learned a little trick that helped me.
When I feel irritated, I substitute “have to” with “get to.” (I learned this from someone, but I don’t remember who.)
- I “get to” take my air conditioner out of the window.
- I “get to” work on our org chart.
- I “get to” sign up for volunteer work.
- I “get to” review our new employee handbook.
“Getting to” take my air conditioner out reminds me how fortunate I am even to have an air conditioner. Most people in the world are not so fortunate. It also reminds me of how lucky I am to be healthy enough to move a heavy air conditioner.
“Getting to” reminds me how much I have to be grateful for in life.
“Getting to” changes my outlook on the world.
So, if you are feeling grouchy about the tasks on your to-do list, switch “have” to “get.” You’ll probably be surprised at how it changes your perspective.