The Zen of List-Making

photo credit

From the Dream’in the Life Blog

Aug 27th, 2009

Find the original article here

Sometimes I would like to have as many thoughts as there are trees in this picture. Just one, thanks.

My own dichotomies exhaust me. Just the other day, I was having a blogging brain fart. Now, I have so many things that I want to do, I just can’t seem to focus on one.

Sometimes I want to run away to and be a Buddhist Monk, and just sit in peaceful zen gardens, focusing on the tone of a bell and working on reaching enlightenment. And then I remember that I haven’t had the patience to try meditating, even once in my life. I get bored super easily and thrive off of change, dichotomies, and extremes. I need new, constant inspiration. I don’t mind this aspect of my personality, but it does lend itself to being restless and having thought overload more often than not.

I have so many things that I want to do right now. I have so many things that I need to do right now. So many passions and excitements that I bounce from one project to the next, like an ADHD three year old.

When I was watching Dope, Hope, and Soap the other day, something that Derrick said struck me the most. He spoke of giving 110% effort in order to get optimum results. I quickly realized that I have seven things that I want to put 110% effort into. Now, if I were capable of putting 110% effort into anything, and I have 7 things that I am passionate about, this means I would only be able to devote 15.714286% effort to each of these things. Which would mean very slow progress on all of the things I want to achieve, and no remarkable progress on any one thing. My solution? PRIORITIZE.

I decided to sit down and pick three aspects of my life to focus my efforts.
In about 30 minutes, I was able to simplify the million things that I felt like I had to do, needed to do, and should do. Once I got everything down on paper, I felt relieved. I love lists, and in this case, the list did exactly it’s job: simplified, organized, and prioritized all of the randomness that enjoys swimming around in my head without my consent.

photo credit

Here was my system for prioritizing when you feel like life is pulling you in a hundred directions, all at once:

1. Pick your top three areas of your life that are most important right now.

What areas are nagging at you? What areas are causing you the most stress, and worry? What is most important to you? I picked: Financial, Health, and Happiness. I picked a combination of things that I would rather not deal with (Financial) and something vague, yet of the utmost important to my sanity (Happiness).

2. Write down one or two goals beneath each topic which accomplishing would make you feel successful.

Don’t think too big… just pick something that would make you feel accomplished, and is attainable in about a month time period.

3. Next, write down around five smaller steps that would get you closer to the goals you just listed.

Write down manageable steps that would get you further along in accomplishing the bigger goals, and things that you can do every day, or a few times a week. Make them things that seem easy. Break it down.

4. Finally, brainstorm. Under each larger topic, answer the question WHY?

Why is this a priority? Why is this something that needs more focus? What about this aspect of your life is stressing you out? How would you feel relieved if you were more successful in this area? Don’t be overly logical, or perfect. Just brainstorm everything that comes to mind: practical, emotional, and every other reason that you want this to be a priority.

I felt so relieved when I did this, that I wanted to share it here. Now, in order to make this S.M.A.R.T… let’s give ourselves a time frame. Do you think you could make significant progress in these areas before October 1st? I liked this idea of a little over a month time frame. Not too long, and not too short.

Did this system help anyone else, other than me, tame all of those things that you feel like you need to do?

Comment to show us you are AWAKE!


Please Watch This Body Brilliance Movie:

Alan Davidson is the founder of and the author Body Brilliance: Mastering Your Five Vital Intelligences, the #1 bestselling Health & Welness book and winner of two National Book-of-the-Year awards.

Alan is also the author of the Free report “Body Breakthroughs for Life Breakthroughs: How to Peak Your Physical, Emotional, Mental, Moral, and Spiritual IQs for a Sensational Life” available at

Love Your Way,

1103 Peveto St.
Houston, TX 77019

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *