To-Do List Wisdom from Mindy Kaling

It’s graduation season, which leads to plenty of people thinking about their long-term goals, not just college students. Often when we reminisce on the goals we had at graduation we focus on all the things we haven’t done.

But are we being too hard on ourselves?

Mindy Kaling thinks so!

When speaking at the graduation ceremony at Dartmouth College Mindy’s final advice to the graduating class was to “let it go.”

We may have a dozen goals in our head when we graduate and some of them may happen and some might not. It doesn’t mean you’ve failed or strayed from your path, just that life often doesn’t go the way you planned.

In previous posts I’ve talked of the importance of evaluating your long-term goals. It’s okay to accept that a goal might no longer be what you want or that you need to put it on the back burner while you focus on more important things. A perfect example of this is a woman I interviewed, author Karen Rizzo, she continually put “Learn Italian” on her list and guess what – never happened.

When evaluating long-term goals there are a few things to take into consideration:

Priorities – What we think is a top priority and what we actually spend most of our time and energy on can be two very different things. Depending on where we are in life our biggest priority can be different things, focusing on family, career or even our health.

Does your top priority line up with your daily habits? Check out the book Essentialism for ways to do this better. Maybe you want to get a new job, but you haven’t been to a networking event in months. Or you’re trying to take a step back with work, but still find yourself emailing at 10pm! Make sure your actions line up with your priorities. If they don’t then it might be time to reassess.

Diminishing Returns – The law of diminishing returns is used to refer to a point at which the level of profits or benefits gained is less than the amount of money or energy invested.

Essentially the more effort you put into something the less you get out of it. How annoying is that?

It’s good to remember though, when you feel like you’ve been pushing a goal or idea for too long – maybe it’s time to ease up a bit?

For example, how many times have you heard people say they found their romantic partner once they stopped looking? The same can be said for many other goals. I know a few people who have been stuck in the ‘research’ phase of writing a book, because they keep finding more and more information pulling them in different directions. At some point you just have to draw a line in the sand and start writing!

When it comes to your goals it’s as Mindy Kaling said –

“Don’t trust any one story of how to become successful.”

Find the path that works for you, it doesn’t have to look like what your 21-year-old self imagined.

 

An Easy Exercise to Help You From Drowning in Lists

In just a few days my bud and business partner Terri Trespicio and I will be headed to the Speak to Sell conference with Lisa Sasevich in Florida. Whoo hoo – can’t wait for some sun! It’s been a long winter.

After the conference my husband and I are heading to Miami for a few days of vacation and a chance for us to check out for a little bit! (Plus to celebrate our wedding anniversary – 9 years!)

As exciting as this all is, it means I’ve got several lists going all at once.

  • Lists for the conference
  • Lists for my vacation (altho I’ll still be working)
  • Lists for everything I have to catch up on before I go

I feel a bit like I’m drowning in lists.

It’s times like these that I have to step away from my usual tactic of just getting things done and zoom out a bit. – Otherwise I get too wrapped up in the small stuff and lose sight of the bigger picture.

A few weeks ago I was fortunate enough to do a workshop training with Ali Brown. She’s an amazing coach for entrepreneurs and she interviewed me for her podcast “Glambition Radio” about my book “Listful Thinking” a while back.

One of the things she taught in this creativity workshop was how to shift your focus. And it involved buying magazines! (My guilty pleasure!)

The idea is to go to a store and get yourself a magazine you would never normally read, which for me could be on something like golf or surfing or the National Geographic. But for you it could be anything that you wouldn’t consider yourself to be interested in.

Now when you read that magazine you have to be a completely objective outsider. The actual content is not that important to you so you can focus on the way they get their message across.  How do they engage with their readers.

So how does this help your list making efforts?

It can give you loads of idea for your own creative output and how you actually get things done. Can you be more creative about the way that you outsource? But also – stepping outside of our usual routine (it’s scary, I know) can actually spark great ideas and allow you to get more done. It will actually make you more productive and help utilize parts of your brain that might have been a bit sleepy til now.

They say you can travel all around world, but you can never escape yourself. Well that’s not strictly true. The magazine exercise allows you to take a break from your own mind and usual way of thinking and take a vacation in someone else’s hobby for a bit – and who knows what you might take away!

Try it out and let me know what you think in the comments below.

Join Me For a Popup Productivity Power Hour

We’re just a few days away from spring – it’s the perfect time to reevaluate your productivity style!

What’s working and what could use a little help?

Maybe you hit the ground running when the New Year started and now you’re losing steam on your projects.

Or perhaps you have a list of new things you want to do but haven’t gotten to yet. (Like your book, or your laundry?)

And what about your email? Maybe that’s overwhelming you again?

One of the best ways I’ve found to keep motivated and productive is to get a little accountability nudge!

So I’m thrilled to offer a “Popup Productivity Power Hour” just for you!

On this group video call I’ll laser coach you on whatever productivity woe is getting in your way of being more efficient. Plus you’ll get to meet fellow list lovers and bounce ideas off each other.

Many of you have done this kind of accountability coaching with me in the past and I’ve been told it’s one of your favorite things that I’ve offered.

So I’m doing it again! Read more

Stop Letting Your List Make You Feel Guilty

Over the years I’ve spoken to a wide variety of people about their lists, some who always cross every item off their lists and some struggling to make lists at all. But there is one thing we all seem to have in common when it comes to lists – guilt over not getting it all done.

Even when it’s a small item I haven’t crossed off my list I feel compelled to find some reason why. I couldn’t get milk because I left a meeting late or I didn’t go for a run because it was too cold this morning.

The excuses we make always find something else other than ourselves at fault.

It’s not because we are necessarily trying to shift the blame, but because our brains like stories. We understand concepts and ideas better when they are presented in narrative form. So when we miss an item on our list we want to have a ‘story’ as to why it’s still there.

These stories can sometimes have positive effects on our lives, just by believing you’re a more lucky or more confident person you can make it so. But the stories we tell ourselves can also hold us back. We might avoid trying something new or taking on a difficult challenge because we believe we aren’t good enough or smart enough.

Once you release that it’s mostly in your head you can start to break out of these negative behaviour patterns. Read more

New Way of Making Lists That Entrepreneurs Will Love

Three months ago I took the plunge, I quit my day job and started working for myself full time media training and coaching experts, authors and entrepreneurs and producing videos and podcasts with them. I’ve had a  great time since I left Fox News — I spoke at the PRSA Tri-State Conference for PR professionals, been interviewed by Peter Shankman about listmaking and started a radio show (more on that later!)

But since I’ve made the crossover to becoming self employed, I’ve had to make a few adjustments. My productivity style that had worked so well for me before just wasn’t quite fitting in with my new lifestyle.

The key to productivity is all about finding what works for you, and as our lives change, so must our lists! Read more