Turning my task list into a playground

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I’m really good at seeing what needs to be done, and taking it on. I’ve got to create that presentatiom for work. Ooo, meals for this week and grocery shopping. Return that client phone call. The dog needs a bath, sooner than later. We need the contact info for the HVAC company, where is that folder of contractors? My book ideas are coming hard and fast, I gotta make some notes. The grass needs mowing. What’s in this week’s farm box? Laundry could happen pretty soon.

And then, my to-do list is greater I can successfully manage. The balance I did have, I’ve lost. I am once again overwhelmed.

Now, I’ve learned some strategies that have helped me in the past. Maybe you are familiar with some of these:

  • One day at a time. That’s great, until I just get behinder and behinder. Yes, it’s a word.
  • Just take a break. Yes, but the stuff still waits for me.
  • Prioritize. Yup. Stuff still is piling up while I focus on the one thing in front of me.
  • Take some things off of your plate. Okay, and what do I choose to simply let go of? There’s a reason it’s a to-do list and not a gee-it-would-be-nice-if-it-were-done list.
  • Delegate some tasks. Have you ever noticed that the people who tell you to delegate never mean to them?!?
  • You’re doing too much; do less. This is just uber-frustrating and unhelpful to hear. Really.

I have come to realize something about myself: When none of the above works and I am instead rather triggered by them, I’m falling back into my Old Story of “Work first, before play.” But for me and my personality, the work is never actually done. And that’s a problem.

You’d think the idea then is to take a time out and go do something playful. For me, the timing is so off that it’s not only unfun, it also makes my existing situation worse. And that’s also a problem.

I tend to just keep plugging away, realizing that “this too shall pass,” and trying to have compassion for myself when I’m not at my best to be around. (That’s code for tired, impatient, and possibly snapping at the people I most love.)

But just the other day I learned of a new-to-me approach: change my mindset about it all.

What if I think of the things I need to do as a playground? My tasks as playground equipment and games? Which do I want to choose, now? The slide? The swings? Hopscotch? The merry-go-round? Jump rope? That deadly fence spinny thingie that is now banned for safety but I used to throw myself off of with glee? Four-square?

Instead of “I have to get through these many things,” I can see it as “I get to play with these many things!” Which one do I want to begin with, today?

I get to feel both work and play at the same time.

And the work gets done. Even better than it otherwise would have.

Because I feel so great along the way. And that, gets infused into everything.

The light, the dark — no difference.

Why not enjoy the ride along the way, rather than start enjoying only when the ride is over?

What can you play with, today?

Holy crap! Now I’m thinking of a waterpark! A theme park! A national park!

Huge thanks to where I learned of this idea: Nick Ortner and Leo Babauta.

gina drellack is the author of This Time, Glide: Stop Struggling for Success and Start Achieving through Ease and Joy, available at AmazonBarnes & Noble, and Balboa Press. She is also a contributing author to Animals: Personal Tales of Encounters with Spirit Animals, available at AmazonBarnes & Noble, and Sacred Stories.

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