Imagine if you did this every day, just think how productive your life could be, how good you can really feel about yourself, and what if some (if not all six) of these important things are actually taking you a step closer to your goals? Even if you only managed to accomplish one of those important things that moves you toward your life goals (like drafting out an outline or a chapter of a book you've always wanted to write), that's still pretty darn good. You worked it into a busy day.
Most people start the day with good intentions. You know what you need to do. You may have even written it down, and you're all fired up, but then something comes up, an email that requires your immediate attention, some late breaking story on yahoo that has you concerned, some funny or fascinating YouTube posting that you can’t resist watching. Then you get a phone call, and when you check your email, there are a few more items than need to be replied, and, oh, a long lost friend just sent you a message on Facebook! An office colleague drops by to tell you about an exciting person they just met or relate their latest drama. And someone really needs your advice or help with their deadline project.
Next thing you know its lunch, and although you accomplished a few things, they were not the top six on your list, they were a few at the bottom that only took a few minutes to clear, neither important nor urgent, just stuff on that list. So you sort of feel good because you at least accomplished something before lunch.
Oh what a difference your day and your life could be if you just ignored everything that was not urgent, and you rolled up your sleeves and ploughed through, one after the other, those six important things that lately have been impossible to get around to. But not today! Today you’re focused, you’re disciplined, and you are absolutely determined not to let anyone else (not even yourself) sidetrack you from the tasks at hand.
When you accomplish what you set out to do, even those mundane tasks—like doing your taxes—that you wished would just disappear from your desk, your self-esteem rises and you feel good about yourself. You even feel that just maybe you really can take on the world!
Now isn’t that a whole lot better than feeling guilty because you, once again, by the end of the day, did not do what you know you need to do. It’s right there on your list, with stars by them! So now those same incomplete tasks will be waiting for you first thing tomorrow, along with everything else that you need to do, and the thought of that really makes you angry.
Don’t get angry and beat yourself up, just make a fresh commitment to yourself, that, by golly, every day from now on, you’re going to see if you can accomplish six important things before lunch, and just do them (no email, no Facebook, no phone calls, no personal dramas (yours or anyone else). And maybe, while you’re at it, a few impossible things before breakfast! Like waking up before the alarm goes off, humming instead of groaning, stretching and exercising, being grateful that you not only have a home to sleep in but also clothes to wear and food to eat.
Also be glad that you’re alive and healthy and that you have someone to love (parents and children count), and maybe even someone who loves you (yes, pets count). Instead of wishing you had someone else’s face or body or talent or all of their money; appreciate all that you do have in life. See life from a whole new perspective, as a joy, not as a hassle. If you think you have problems, and I’m sure you have your share, turn on the news to the latest disaster! They got real problems! Count your blessings! Put it all into perspective.
By now you’re starting to feel better about yourself, and once you have breakfast, you’ll feel energized to start tackling those six important things on your list. Today is the day you’re taking charge of your own life! About time, too, and it’s not even lunch! Let’s really work up an appetite!
-Borneo Expat Writer
*Update, the 20th anniversary of Lovers and Strangers Revisited
Here are links to some of my author-to-author interviews of first novelists:
Ivy Ngeow author of Cry of the Flying Rhino, winner of the 2016 Proverse Prize.
Golda Mowe author of Iban Dream and Iban Journey.
Preeta Samarasan author of Evening is the Whole Day.
Chuah Guat Eng, author of Echoes of Silence and Days of Change.
Five part Maugham and Me series
Beheaded on Road to Nationhood: Sarawak Reclaimed—Part I