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Welcome to the October 2008 issue of Alignment Solutions! This month’s theme is “optimizing your day.” Although many of us created “to do” lists for ourselves as reminders and/or to help us get through the day, did you ever stop to think that those lists may be counterproductive? That is, instead of enabling us to live and work effectively, they actually may be doing just the opposite. What can we do to turn around this situation? Take a look at this month’s articles for some suggestions you can implement today!

In the Feature Article, “Three Ways to Optimize Your Day,” we suggest how to turn your “to do” list from an energy sapper to a life-affirming tool.

In “Your Day, Your Choice,” the Business Solutions section describes what you can do to ensure that the items on your “to do” list support important business outcomes and enable you to make progress toward achieving them.

In the Personal Solutions section, “Transformative Choices: What’s on Your ‘To Do’ List?” offers a myriad of suggestions for significantly enhancing the quality of your day simply by adding one purposeful concept to your “to do” list.

I invite you to visit my web site at to find other articles and resources that may be of value to you and your colleagues. I welcome your feedback!


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Three Ways to Optimize Your Day

Do you keep a “to do” list, either mentally in your head or physically on paper or in some electronic device? If you do, it is highly likely that its contents influence greatly the type of day you are likely to have. How you experience your day influences the effort and enthusiasm you bring to the workplace, which ultimately can increase or decrease your effectiveness. Let me suggest how you may use your ““to do”” list to optimize your day.

First, take a minute to read through your “to do” list with this thought in mind: what do its contents indicate about how you are likely to experience this day? For example, does the list contain actions or outcomes you cannot wait to get to because they make your heart sing? Or is it comprised of a series of “have to” or “should” do tasks that invoke dread or anxiety? Are there so many items that you feel overwhelmed? In short, how would you rate your “to do” list’s performance in terms of setting you up for an uplifting, joyous, productive day filled with the possibility of wonderful experiences?

If your answer is “Very good” or better, congratulations! There is no need to read further. For those who gave a less than life-affirming response, let me suggest three ways you can use your “to do” list to help transform the way you experience your days.

  1. Though there are many situations in the workplace (and in other parts of our lives) over which we have little or no control, we ALWAYS have a choice about how we view them. Those choices determine to a large extent what kind of experience we have. Thus we can choose to view our “to do” list as a tool for achieving important outcomes, or as one that represents a necessary evil. That perspective helps shape the way we experience the day ahead. For example, would you rather face the day full of anticipation and curiosity about the possibilities and opportunities it brings, or would you choose to go into the day with a sense of foreboding or resignation at the thought of the burdensome tasks awaiting you? Set high positive expectations for your day, then go forth and meet or exceed them!
  2. Keep the big picture clearly in sight. “To do” lists generally contain a myriad of tasks or activities to be accomplished. Our objective generally is to check them off as quickly as possible so we can get through them by the end of the day. We get so caught up with the goal of checking off the items that we lose sight of the REAL goal, the reason why we are doing these things in the first place. And we forget to ask some important questions such as, “What outcome is this item supporting?” (If the answer is “None,” then why is it on our list?) While activities are necessary to achieving outcomes, the focus always should remain on WHY we are doing them – i.e., the purpose they serve. If we have no good answer, or if the answer represents a low priority, remove the item from the list. Delegate it if necessary. Your day will have much more meaning when you keep the big picture in front of you – and you will get rid of unnecessary activities.
  3. For more ideas on how to ensure the details of your "to do" list do not overtake the big picture, see the Business Solutions section of this newsletter.

  4. Take a look at how the CONTENT of your “to do” list is working for you. Most lists are filled with tasks or activities that are hardly life affirming. What if you include content that is? For example, try adding a statement like this to your list: “Today I choose to ___.” Here are some suggestions for how you might fill in the blank:
    • be inspired by those around me.
    • be curious about what my staff have to say, even when I think I've heard it before.
    • feel grateful for the abundance in my life.
    • feel energized by my work.
    • appreciate others for their contributions.

Adding just one statement like these to your “to do” list can help optimize the way you experience the day. Imagine spending a day seeking out inspirational acts, feeling grateful for what you have, feeling energized by your work, or expressing your appreciation to others! Simply looking for these things ensures that you will find them.

For a list of additional suggestions for life affirming content, see the Personal Solutions section of this newsletter.

This brings us back to my first point, which is that we always have choices. Just as we choose to add items to our “to do” list, so we can choose to remove them. Similarly, we can decide to measure our progress by the number of activities we complete or by the outcomes we achieve and the quality of our day.

How will you choose to experience your day?

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Your Day, Your Choice

In my article Three Ways to Optimize Your Day, I suggest that the ways we view and manage our “to do” lists can have a major impact on the way we experience our day. One of the big issues with such lists is that they often contain an overwhelming number of irrelevant items that raise our stress levels without bringing us any closer to achieving our desired outcomes. Here is how you can ensure that the items on your “to do” list help you achieve your goals rather than serve as obstacles to your success.

  1. Make a conscious decision to use your “to do” list to help shape how you will experience the coming day.
  2. Identify what that experience will be like. For example, “Today I choose to appreciate others.”
  3. Identify one specific business outcome.
  4. List the actions required to complete that outcome.
  5. Review that list to:

    • Ensure each action truly supports the outcome.
    • Determine whether you are the best person to complete the action. If not, delegate the task!
    • Identify ways that you can appreciate others as you are completing the items.
  6. As you check off the items, remind yourself what end(s) each one serves – i.e., keep in mind how each one brings you a step close to achieving the big picture.
  7. Repeat steps 1-6 every day.

The return on investment in your physical and mental well-being is many times what you might expect. Why not take a break today and see for yourself?


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Transformative Choices: What’s on Your ‘To Do’ List?

In my article Three Ways to Optimize Your Day, I suggest that you may transform your day by making a conscious choice about how you want to experience it. You can do this simply by adding one item to your “to do” list that focuses your attention on that choice. This addition takes the form of the statement: “Today I choose to ___.”

Below are some items you may want to add to your daily “to do” list. I recommend choosing ONE (or possibly two related items) per day so you can focus on the experience you desire. For example, today you may choose to feel compassion both for yourself and for others.

Today I choose to:

  • live my passion.
  • view the world from a child's perspective.
  • feel proud of my contributions.
  • be curious about the people I meet and the situations I encounter.
  • appreciate others.
  • share my talents.
  • feel grateful for the abundance in my life.
  • express my gratitude for others' contributions.
  • be inspired by those around me.
  • be grateful for the opportunities I have.
  • feel compassion for myself.
  • feel compassion for others.
  • really listen to those I encounter.
  • be fascinated by the world around me.
  • seek the inherent goodness of people.
  • celebrate my successes.
  • celebrate others' successes.
  • experience the freedom of choosing my own options.
  • feel peaceful and serene.
  • say "thank you" for everyone and everything that comes into my life.
  • feel content with who I am.
  • express my playful side.
  • accept myself for who I am.
  • accept others for who they are.
  • appreciate the generosity of others.
  • feel joyful.
  • engage in healthy behaviors.
  • celebrate my well-being.
  • feel worthy.
  • feel part of something larger than myself.
  • show others how they fit in the big picture.
  • feel exhilarated.
  • have fun!
  • value myself.
  • value others.
  • find something positive in every encounter.
  • feel elated!
  • be kind to myself.
  • be kind to others.
  • heal one wound.
  • feel carefree.
  • be fearless!
  • take a risk.
  • cherish my relationships.
  • trust others.
  • be trustworthy.
  • reach out to someone I don't know.
  • listen to another person's story.
  • be patient.
  • ask for the help I need.
  • help someone without being asked.
  • play with my children.
  • spend time with my loved ones.
  • be of service to others.
  • feel deserving.
  • discover something about a friend I didn't know.
  • be respectful of every person I meet.
  • meet one of my most important needs.
  • embrace life, whatever it brings my way.

I encourage you to add to this list! Let me know what suggestions you have. I will publish them in a future newsletter. And let me know how this tip helped transform your day!


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Date of Publication: October, 2008 | 562.985.0333
Copyright 2008 - All rights reserved, Pat Lynch