Identifying Needs Instead of Making To-Do Lists
Identifying needs is not the same as making to-do lists. Recently, I was asked by a reporter to suggest 5 home decor/design projects that “can make a big impact without much effort.” She was going to mention my downloadable how-toBooks in a story on “how making to-do lists can help organize time which then makes it easier to organize everything else without adding more clutter.”
When making to-do lists, you are eliminating the necessity of thinking about it twice
At first, I thought her question was impossible to answer. How can you approach a design project as a chore? To-do lists are very handy for running errands. Just like with a list of ingredients for a recipe, you have to make sure not to forget anything. When making to-do lists, you are dealing with the familiar.
When identifying needs, on the other hand, you don’t pretend to know the outcome ahead of time
The trick is in allowing yourself to keep things unresolved or open-ended. You are asking questions and are giving yourself time to answer. You let your thoughts and feelings simmer by putting together a mood board or a collage. Identifying needs with mind mapping is another way.
Fine. One more thing really bothered me about the assignment. How can anyone “make a big impact without much effort?” As far as I know, if you expect anything worthwhile, making a big effort would be the first and the last item on all of your to-do lists. How can I think of it differently?
What if I suggest a list of attributes a productive day should have? How about a recipe for a day conducive to creativity? I just read a lovely blog post that encourages all of us to feel content in the present moment. It supports my point of view that life is not about aspiring to be better but about appreciating what we have.
Here is my “identifying needs” list of 7 things every day needs to feel complete
- A little bit of love
- A little bit of beauty
- A little bit of nurture
- A little bit of inspiration
- A little bit of peace and quiet
- A little bit of adventure
- A little bit of a challenge
Blissfully, I had a chance to check off all of the items on this list yesterday. I decided to have a diversion and went hiking. It turned out to be quite challenging — more than two hours of steep inclines on East Topanga Trail in the Santa Monica Mountains. Yet, it was invigorating.
Most importantly, I went with a friend. Our conversation filled me with a sense of compassion and love. We shared our thoughts with each other. I felt nurtured. I also felt deeply cared about when she was making sure that my jacket is on, and I am not going to catch a cold.
The natural beauty around us was truly inspirational. I was pretending to be a photo-correspondent photographing twigs and broken-up slate uncovered under a thick layer of sand by the heavy rains. I marveled at the colors of “the mosaic” right under our feet.
For our late lunch, we were joined by another friend and ended up talking together for at least another two hours. Probably longer — I was not watching the time, which is in itself a real diversion!
In short, it was a wonderful day, the kind that makes a big impact, but is probably impossible to plan for when making to-do lists. On the other hand, while identifying needs, you can anticipate situations. You are giving yourself tools to envision an experience and then make it happen.