December 1, 2010
Have you done your "Ta Da List" yet?

By chance, are you experiencing work-life overwhelm these days? Too much to do and not enough time? If so, you are in good (albeit tired) company, according to several recent surveys reaffirming that Canadians are grappling with heavier work (and life) loads and higher stress. We live in a society of 'rush' and there's no sign of it slowing down. But there are ways to tame that 'overwhelm gremlin'. Strategies for staying organized and on track are helpful. For instance, I could not survive without my "To Do Lists". In a recent blog post I wrote about the value of 'writing it down'. Lately, I've been further refining my own organizing 'systems' because life in the busy lane has gotten even more frenetic.

But organizing yourself is only half the story. There's also the emotional side of 'too much to do'. Our work is never done. Of course on many levels that's good. But as demands grow, and lists get longer, we can get worn down by focusing exclusively on all that you didn't yet get done in a given day/week/etc. Paying attention only to the stuff that still needs to be done can be an emotional drain on our energy and does little to help us stay resilient. This is where mind over matter really does come in to the picture.

That is why I've become a big fan of the 'Ta Da List".
The "Ta Da List" (as I've affectionately named it) is an accounting of what you are getting done - the good, the great and the magnificant -- okay, even the small ordinary stuff counts too. "Naming and claiming" for yourself the stuff you are accomplishing is a powerful antidote to the angst associated with 'too much to do'. It helps build resilience, optimism and energy. These are all essential ingredients to a gratifying work and life experience and help you bring your best to each day.

I know the "Ta Da" idea may sound a bit lightweight and even a little hokey, but there's serious research behind these kinds of strategies. The science behind the positive psychology movement is piling up research that prove activities like this can boost feelings of gratitude and have a significant impact on our sense of fulfillment in work and life. I recently attended an intensive course offered by the Via Institute on Character that delved deeply into this. I will share more in future blog and newsletter posts.

But for now, don't just take my word for it: If you are experiencing uber-busyness with work-life overload, then try it out yourself. I've prepared a few tips to help get you started below. Give it a try for at least a week and then at minimum, you too can say: "Ta Da!" And please do feel free to get back in touch with me to share your thoughts, success, questions. I'd love to hear from you.

To each of us who are indeed getting so much done each day - Ta Da and TGIM!

Eileen Chadnick, PCC, ACPC, ABC
Big Cheese Coaching

The Ta-Da List:

Developing the habit of acknowledging your accomplishments -- large and small -- is a powerful way to maintain your optimism and energy, especially when the demands of work and life go into over-drive. Here's some guidance to get started on your "Ta Da List":

Identify at least three things you accomplished today (or any other timeframe): It may be tempting to make this list all inclusive but that's not necessary. Start with just a few items that come up for you. As you write these out, you may remember more and can certainly add them to the list. Just don't stress about getting it all down. The idea is not to turn this into another task that burdens you further.

Pay attention: At the beginning, you may not realize what may account for something worthy of your "Ta Da" list. We tend to take ourselves for granted. Notice and grab those 'got it done' bits - they really do count. The other night I was admiring my clean coffee table. I had just finally cleared off the piles of saved articles, papers, notes that were cluttering it up. I'd been procrastinating for too long yet when I eventually did get to it, I realized that it was a 'Ta Da'! It felt great to have the clean table - but also to add it to my list. Ta da!!!!!

No accomplishment is too small: Like the coffee table example, no 'Ta Da' is too small if it meant something to you. While acknowledging the big accomplishments is important, it's equally energizing to acknoweldge little things too, especially for procrastinators. So if cleaning up your desk was something on your 'to-do list' for too long and you finally got around to it - add it to the Ta Da List!

Write it down: The act of writing it down (vs. simply thinking it) gives more focus to the intention of 'owning' and recognizing your accomplishment and deepens the awareness. Sometimes, the writing will prompt additional recall of other items worth noting. As well, if you write it down (paper, computer, PDA, etc) you can have a look back at the growing list -- which can be a "mojo-boosting' reflective practice.

Ta Da regularly: Determine what frequency makes sense to you. For some people, taking a few moments at the end of each day may be the right frequency. For others, it may be weekly or adhoc. The idea is to acknowledge often enough to give balance in your perspective when it seems you just can't get ahead of all that you need to get done. It's a worthwhile habit because it is all too easy to slip into the "I haven't done enough' default trap which is so demoralizing.

From the Blog...

Here are a few posts from my TGIMworklife blog that relate to this topic that you may find of interest. One is quite recent, the others from a bit back - but still relevant.

Strategies to tame the Overwhelm Gremlin

Coping in the Season of Rush (Dec holidays)

Ahhh...White space. Getting any?

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To your TGIM Work-life!

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