Forget “To-Do” Lists in 2018: “Ta-Dah” Instead!
The idea of creating a values-based daily plan came to me when I realized that after slashing through years of daily To-Do lists, I felt very little sense of control and focus. My lists were almost completely business-driven and did not in any way reflect the “whole me.” I was out of balance, and I knew it. I wasn’t sleeping well, I was tired most of the time, and I was far from energetic in any part of my life. So, what was I missing?
I had learned a long time ago, from Brian Tracy, that “the degree to which we have control over our lives mirrors the degree to which we experience, maintain and enjoy positive mental health.”
In case you’re not familiar with his work, Brian Tracy is a Canadian-American motivational public speaker and self-development author of over seventy books that have been translated into dozens of languages. His most popular books are Earn What You’re Really Worth, The Psychology of Achievement, and Eat That Frog! Brian is the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Brian Tracy International, a company he founded in 1984 in Vancouver, BC.
When I reflected on my old “My To-Do List,” I realized that it contained a long list of items that evoked negative thoughts and feelings – work, drudgery, unfocused, negative energy, draining, few rewards, emotionally stale, no reflection of my values, daunting, and no control.
On the other hand, “My Ta-Dah List” screamed with energy! Just say Ta-Dah! out loud and you will understand what I mean. Besides energy, my Ta-Dah list is focused, details actionable tasks for tomorrow, and, most importantly, reflects my values.
I find that using a Ta-Dah list builds control into my life, one day at a time. It allows me to clear my brain for a better night’s sleep. It is colourful and personalized. It has a beginning and an end, and, after all, Ta-Dah! means done, I did it, now take a bow! (And, if you like, a wand is a great prop.)
The defining difference between a To-Do list and a Ta-Dah list is that your Ta-Dah list centres on your values.
Personal Values – an individual’s judgment of what is most important in the way he or she lives.
Your values are the areas of your life you believe are important. They (should) determine your priorities. When your daily actions support your values, life is good, you feel a sense of control, and you’re satisfied and content. But, when your daily actions do not support your values, life may seem unsatisfying and perhaps even overwhelming.
“Honouring your values puts you in a state of ‘being,’ not ‘doing.’ ” – Lorraine Morris
Your Ta-Dah list is not a replacement for your Day Timer or other daily planning tool, because these serve a purpose, too. A traditional daily planner focuses on your tactical functions – appointments, meetings, deadlines, etc. – but it is not a values-based compass for creating balance in your life.
So how do you get started?
- Create a version of a Ta-Dah list that works for you, reflecting the number of values that are most important to you. I’ve included an example of one of my own filled-in Ta-Dah lists. The pages fit nicely in a binder. I keep all my completed daily sheets to reflect on what I achieved.
- Determine your top values. On my own Ta-Dah list, I like to label the 7th box on the page “Miscellaneous.”
- Insert your chosen values into the boxes on the Ta-Dah page.
- For each of the boxes, ask yourself what actionable steps will provide you with the greatest sense of control tomorrow.
- List 2-3 actionable and doable steps under each of your values. Don’t add any more than that or you will be right back to the old To-Do list.
- As you complete your action steps, pick the brightest colour marker you own and tick them off. Doing this creates a great visual sense of power and accomplishment.
- Prepare your Ta-Dah page each evening so that it’s ready to use the next morning. Following this practice allows my brain to rest and helps me to get a good night’s sleep.
- In the morning, you are ready to go – focused, balanced, and in control!
To-Do or Ta-Dah? That is the question!