I love a good To Do List.
I can create them in excel, powerpoint and mindmaps. They can be colour-coded or time-coded: set out for individuals or teams. In fact I almost made a career of them, for what else is a strategic plan but a high level, sometimes aspirational To Do List.
I also love stationary shops full of fresh diaries, planners and journals. I love sticky notes, white boards and coloured pens. I particularly love any activity which combines all of the above, into a frenzy of creative thinking that may, at some stage, become a productive outcome.
I love planning and plotting and pulling things together.
But I also know that all of that living in the future can leave me stuck.
We can only plan for so long. At some point we need to get into action, and if the plan is too perfect it can make us scared to take a step forward. Because once we step into that beautiful future, there is a risk that it will not work out as we planned, and the picture will fall apart.
So how do we move past our plans and “to do” lists into actual productivity?
And how do we keep doing without becoming exhausted and overwhelmed?
Mindfulness trainer, Ken LaDeroute describes the state of “awakened doing” as a place where we are acting not from our old ego selves (which just keeps us trapped) but from a place of “thoughtful awareness”.
This is when we connect not to our opinions, judgements and desires, but to our internal wisdom: our bodies and our feeling senses.
When we live with awareness, we can take action in the moment. We can act without fear of judgement, of expectations, of perfection. We move without hesitation. We can start doing right now and then stop when we have done enough.
By practicing such awareness we can keep moving forward with our plans and dreams, without waiting for a magic moment when it is the right time to act.
We are working in line with our internal wisdom, using all our senses not just our logic and judgement.
It takes courage, compassion and commitment to live and work from a place of ‘thoughtful awareness’: a willingness to suspend judgement of ourselves and others, to stay awake to our feelings rather than keeping them bottled up and suppressed.
However the benefits are that you spend less time stuck in a web of doubt and confusion, and have more time and energy for the fun things in your life.
And if that includes a few sticky notes and mind maps – who am I to judge.