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How Happy People Work Their To-Do List

How Happy People Work Their To-Do List

To-do lists. Everyone in the world seems to be running on their own intensely private and personalized schedules that fifty years ago would have seemed insane, and even nowadays seems a bit beyond the pale. Let’s face it, organization is a key skill that everyone needs to possess these days.

So, how do the happy people do it? Those poised, serene and cheerful people who seem to glide through life, crossing item after item off their to-do lists and seeming to be at one with a mystical and never-ending source of joie de vivre.

As someone who’s coming to terms with the finer points of personal organization and the to-do list, I took a look at how happy people run, work and prioritize their to-do lists and found some fantastic tips and techniques which help them stay productive, calm, and most of all, happy people.

1. Start Early

Even if you’re not an early riser, make a habit of rising early. Not only will you feel a lot better with more under your belt by starting early, but are plenty of other side benefits that honestly make the early rise all the more important in terms of to-do list.

You’re more likely to experience silence and quiet times in the early morning, which will help you focus and channel your energies into getting your to-do list done while other people are still asleep.

2. Reward Yourself Often

Treat yourself throughout the day for getting stuff done. Filed all those reports? Go for a walk in the park. Finished that article or called your aunt? Treat yourself to a sweet treat for lunch.

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Treating yourself often with special things you like offers a nice incentive to keep up the productivity without splurging and losing your productive state of mind. Plus it’s an awesome excuse for that sweet little something or indulgent purchase.

3. Tackle The Hardest Thing First

There’s generally one big task that can be the main focus of an entire day and it can seem daunting to even tackle it. It’s very easy to tackle all the smaller tasks and then save the big task for either later on when we’re less motivated, or save it for another day.

Therefore, go ahead and make it the first thing you tackle.  When it’s out of the way, you’ll instantly feel on top of your stuff.

4. Factor In Procrastination Time

We all procrastinate. It’s fine – we all do it – but the key is stop letting your natural procrastination become a total drain on your time for that day.

Don’t overload your schedule if you know that you’re going to be scrolling through Tumblr, Facebook and Twitter throughout the day and know it’ll get in the way. That way you can enjoy your scrolling relatively guilt free.

5. Add Some Basic Things To The To-Do List

It’s a little psychological trick, but it’s one that’s sure to get you more motivated in the morning when you can look back and see a few things already crossed off.

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Even if it’s something as simple as ‘have a morning shower’ or ‘remember to do some stretches in the morning,’ you’re kickstarting your progress and your day-to-day productivity improves.

6. Add Some Silly Things Too

Be whimsical. Be funny. Go ahead and add the fun things you want to do that day and incorporate them into your to-do list. Life is short, and this will help you to make each day much more enjoyable.

Schedule a one-person dance party or going to an ice cream parlor or a karaoke session. Having fun should always be part of your day, and this little technique will make your to-do lists more interesting and give you a boost.

7. Look To The Weather

The weather is pretty unpredictable, so planning ahead for whatever that comes your way might well be part of what makes a day great. If it’s going to rain, make time to chill out in a cafe with a good book, some tea and a treat. If it’s sunny, go and lay out to get a tan or grab an ice cream in the sunshine.

Find time to kick a big patch of leaves in the autumn or stock up on hot chocolate and good movies for the winter. The weather can affect us and our daily lists, so make sure to keep an eye out for what’s coming ahead climate-wise and save some room for fun to-do list activities.

8. Break It Down Into Categories

One great way of tackling your to-do list is to break it all down into categories and sub-categories.

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Happy people do this to help themselves see the wider picture; each task seems more achievable when it’s broken down into segments you can conquer one at a time. Your to-do list and your commitments will all look much more doable once you’ve boiled them down to the smallest possible tasks.

9. Make Sure You Have Time For Replenishment

Human beings, someone wise once paraphrased, need to be restored, replenished and rejuvenated on a daily basis. The art of self-care has to be part of any successful person’s to-do list.

Happy people are generally happier because they make sure to keep this kind of self-care a part of their daily lives. Make sure you schedule in time for some me-time, and the rejuvenation you feel will make you tackle the rest of your to-do list with renewed vigor.

10. Do It To Music

Music is a great motivator, and nothing can spur us along more than having our own custom soundtrack blasting through our ears and giving us a much-needed boost to get through our tasks.

Go ahead and create custom playlists for certain situations: big, bold and confidence-boosting tracks for when the tasks you’re doing are tough, and calm and serene for when you’re feeling cool and collected and on the top of the world.

11. Don’t Add Everything

If you’re a recovering perfectionist like me, it can be extremely hard not to fill your to-do list with daily chores, work duties, personal obligations and other tasks that don’t really need to be done that day.

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Make sure you never go over a certain limit – a single page of A5 notebook paper, for example – lest you find yourself adding much more than you could ever do.

12. Go With The Flow

To-do lists are fantastic and all, but sometimes you just have to let them go. Having a to-do list every single day can be exhausting, and some days you just have to play things by ear and see what happens. Going with the flow can lead you to fantastic opportunities you might not have had the chance to do otherwise.

Let’s say you’re walking through your city, to-do list primed and ready, and you spot a fair going on. That to-do list will still be there when you’re done, but the fair won’t be.

Go ahead and experience what life has to offer and enjoy everything you can. Let go of the to-do list, even for one day a week. Otherwise you might find yourself trapped in a rut with a scrap of paper that controls you, rather than the other way around.

More by this author

Chris Haigh

Writer, baker, co-host of "Good Evening Podcast" and "North By Nerdwest".

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Last Updated on March 25, 2020

How to Crush Your Lack of Motivation and Always Stay Motivated

How to Crush Your Lack of Motivation and Always Stay Motivated

How many times have you not achieved your goals and let yourself down due to your lack of motivation? When you’re not wallowing in sadness and self-pity, you are too busy procrastinating till you can’t anymore and before you know it, you are part of vicious cycle of anxiety and stress.

Whether it’s losing weight or bringing your business to fruition – motivation is essential for growth and success in every sphere of our lives.

That said, it is not easy staying motivated. In order to constantly stay motivated, you need to take ownership of your life and consciously make efforts in that direction.

Well, it’s never too late to take matters in your hands and change the course of your life. Here are 11 effective ways to crush your lack of motivation and always stay motivated:

1. Write Your Goals

The power of writing goals down has always been underestimated. Why write when you can remember, right? Wrong.

Our thoughts are all over the place and the first step to achieve your goals is to organize your thoughts. So, write your goals down, however big or small they might be. Make them as specific as possible and assign deadlines to each of them.

As you write them down and revisit them regularly, they get further drilled in your head, taking you closer to your goals. Doing this small exercise helps you to remain focused, motivated and lets you track your progress with ease.

Start today – take to your laptop or a diary and get down to writing what you wish to achieve in life.

2. Beat Procrastination

Your lack of motivation and procrastination go hand in hand. Every time you procrastinate, your motivation levels take a greater hit. The only way to bring an end to this loop is to stop procrastinating.

Next time you find yourself putting off something for ‘later’, stop and assess the reasons behind it. Get to the root of the cause and eliminate it in order to overcome this poor habit of procrastinating which is sabotaging your life and mental health.

Take a look at this guide and learn how to beat procrastination:

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What Is Procrastination (And the Complete Guide to Stop Procrastinating)

When you finally overcome procrastination, you will realize the positive impact it has on your mood and motivation levels.

3. Celebrate Small Wins

In the quest to achieve the bigger goals in life, we often forget to celebrate the smaller wins along the way. An achievement is an achievement – be it big or small, it deserves to be acknowledged and celebrated.

Finished a project on time? Reward yourself. Managed to run on the treadmill for a good one hour? Pat yourself on the back. Found time to meditate? Celebrate it.

It is these small achievements that reinstate that we are on the right path and take us one step closer to the bigger goals.

So, get into the habit of recognizing and appreciating small wins. You will be surprised to see how this practice helps you stay motivated.

4. Practice Gratitude

It’s easier to whine about what we don’t have rather than counting our blessings. Isn’t it?

Making gratefulness a part of your life is a very important step to retain high motivational levels. It revitalizes our spirits and renews our enthusiasm for life.

So, how do you practice gratitude? For starters, keep a gratitude journal to jot down what you are grateful for, express your gratitude to people you love and spread positivity wherever you go. If you need some inspiration to be thankful for, here it is:

60 Things To Be Thankful For In Life

By doing so, you begin to focus more on what you have rather than what you don’t and that is a great start to stay motivated.

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5. Be Optimistic

Life is not always hunky dory. There will be bad days when things aren’t going in your favor, when you feel lost and all you want to do is give up.

At such times, instead of letting negativity take over your life, adopt an optimistic approach to life. Quit overthinking, ask the right questions and focus on finding solutions.

Yes, there will be hurdles along the way but if you hang on to positive affirmations and hopes, the journey will be a lot smoother. So, with every passing day, sow the seeds of positivity and you are sure to build a positive environment around you.

6. Don’t Dwell on the Past

A lot of times, our lack of motivation stems from the habit of dwelling on the past. This gives rise to fear and regrets, preventing us from making progress in the present day.

Dwelling on the past is nothing but a waste of time. Understand that the past is long gone, and you cannot do anything to change that.

What you can do is make your present day worthwhile. Instead of looking back and having regrets, learn from your mistakes, forgive yourself and move on.

So, the next time you find your mind wandering off to the past, be determined to change the way you think and consciously concentrate on living in the present. This guide can help you:

10 Simple Steps To Let Go Of The Past

7. Face your Fears

You can never find motivation where there is fear. Identify the fear that is pulling you back and tackle it.

If you don’t face your fear head on, you cannot expect to conquer it and renew your motivation.

Ask yourself: What is stopping you? What are you scared of?

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Once you accept your fear, you can work on an action plan and think of solutions to overcome it. This article will give you some effective tips on conquering your fears:

How to Overcome Your Irrational Fears (That Stop You from Succeeding)

Seek external help if required but don’t choose to turn a blind eye over your fears – it will only aggravate matters.

8. Visualize your Success

You must have heard the famous quote, ‘see it to believe it’. That is exactly what visualization is about.

One of the most effective self-motivation techniques, visualizing the process to your desired outcome helps you move in a positive direction and achieve your goal.

Close your eyes and focus all your energies on the minutest of details that will take you where you want to reach. Doing this exercise everyday inspires you to keep going and not lose hope. The vision of attaining success will drive you to do better while instilling belief and confidence.

9. Find Inspiration

Can’t seem to find inspiration inwards? Don’t panic. There are plenty of external sources to gain inspiration from.

From motivational books and quotes to speeches, films and apps – it is a good idea to take help from motivational material to rekindle your spirits and regain your motivation.

Everyone is wired differently. For instance, a self-help book might work for your friend, but it might do nothing to move you. So, find what inspires you and turn to it when you are in desperate need for motivation.

Finding inspiration externally fills you with hope and sometimes that is all you need.

10. Enjoy Downtime

You are clearly exhausted with all the running you’re doing in life. So much, that you don’t even have time to stop and think what’s causing you so much unhappiness. All you know is that you are lacking motivation and everyday seems to have become a struggle.

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Now, that’s certainly not how you should live the rest of your life.

You need to schedule downtime for yourself, relax and give your mind and body some rest. Take a vacation, indulge in hobbies, meet some friends, put your hair down and stop with all the overthinking. It is important to do things that make you happy in order to think clearly and stay motivated.

11. Meditate Regularly

Meditation lets you take control of your mind. It improves focus and concentration while helping you relax.

Whenever you have had a tough day or find your thoughts going places, the best way to calm yourself down is by closing your eyes and meditating. It helps you to remove all the unnecessary frills in life and keeps you on the right track.

Include meditation in your daily schedule and you are sure to see an improvement in your productivity and motivation.

The Bottom Line

Practicing these simple exercises isn’t the tough part, what’s tough is religiously doing them every day.

However, don’t expect to get rid of your lack of motivation overnight. There will still be days when you will be low on energy but by making these conscious efforts to stay motivated, you are sure to see a vast change in your perspective and your response to bad days.

So, start today and be committed to making a positive change in your life.

More Tips About Staying Motivated

Featured photo credit: Sonnie Hiles via unsplash.com

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