Why the 'to be' list is more important than the 'to do' list

27 January 2016 -


Putting an emphasis on being rather than doing can help you get things done quicker and better

Guest blogger Dr Alan Watkins

Got much done on your to do list today? A to do list can be very helpful because it reminds us what we need to focus on. Unfortunately, it’s become the only thing most of us are focused on.

Too many of us live one-dimensional lives and are obsessed by doing things. And when we’ve finished doing those things and ticked them off our list we identify more things we need to do.

It is endless. Maybe it’s time to build a ‘stop do’ list or, even better, create a ‘to be’ list instead.

The problem is that even when, on that very rare occasion, we get everything done on our to do list, we can be left feeling unsatisfied. The reason is that we are largely ignoring the other, critical dimensions in our lives that drive our happiness – namely, ‘being’ and ‘relating’.

All the great psychologists, philosophers, and spiritual teachers over the years have recognised this and many teach about the importance of just being.

Unfortunately, this has gone largely unrecognised in the business world.

The ‘to be’ list is actually inextricably linked to your to do list. If you are being or showing up in the right way and put yourself in the right emotional state for the situation you’re facing, then you will more than likely do the right things.

The to do list isn’t irrelevant, but if you’re able to focus on you first and manage how you are being then you’re likely to do better.

Focus on being

The quality a person brings to their doing is based on the quality of their being.

It makes sense when you think about how you are at work. How you feel impacts directly on what you do. So instead of thinking about what you have to do today, think about what emotional state will best enable you to do what you want to do.

You’ll be much more efficient and successful at getting things done if you are able to control your emotional state. For example, if you’re giving an important presentation, you’ll perform much better if you are feeling confident, relaxed and poised.

If, on the other hand, you’re feeling apprehensive, worried and intimidated, there is a much higher likelihood of things turning out the way you wouldn’t like.

This is not about positive thinking or telling yourself to feel confident and relaxed. It has to come from a genuine change in your emotional state at a physiological level.

Developing first awareness and then control of your emotions through techniques such as rhythmic breathing, enables you to be better and then do better.

So, if you really want to get through your to do list and generate a real sense of satisfaction from your achievements, get your ‘to be’ list of emotions sorted first.

To find out more about how to develop your being and the value of a ‘to be’ list read Dr Alan Watkins’ new book 4D Leadership: Competitive advantage through vertical leadership development

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