Why you should make a to-be list before a to-do list

This pandemic has changed the way I see the world. It has changed the way I spend the 24 hours I have at my disposal each day. Although my values have not changed, my perspective and my priorities have.

I realise now, more than ever before, how important each moment is, how precious each second. I have practised mindfulness for many years now, not just being fully aware of each moment, but using the moment of stillness that mindfulness offers to think before I react, before I say, write or post something that I might regret later.

During the pandemic, my mindfulness has expanded to include thoughtfulness. Whereas before, I was mindful of what I experience in each moment and took time to reflect before I reacted to what I experience, I am now also conscious of what others experience in any given moment in time.

I still have a to-do list, but it is now much, much shorter than it had been before. Not because I have less to do, but because my priorities have changed. It is more important to me now to use what time I have “to be,” rather than “to do.”

So what do I have on my to-do list? On my waiting list today, 5 points:

  1. To be grateful to God for the small things, that I do not need to survive, like spectacular sunrises, as well as for the big things that my survival depends.
  2. To be kind, to practice small random acts of kindness, like chatting, from behind my mask, to the cashier in my local supermarket, asking her how she is coping with the constant threat, how her family is, if any one of them has been ill. Calling her by her name, which actually takes a fair amount of effort, because I am seriously shortsighted, and I am not very good at remembering names!
  3. To be curious. To learn something new each day. Often it is not necessary to look very far – one day I decided to find out what each of my friends’ favourite colour is.
  4. To be a good listener. To give 100% of my attention to the person talking to me, without thinking about what I will say in return.
  5. To be patient. In 2020 I learned how important it is to be able to wait for the right moment to say or to do something: an hour, a day, a week, months. I discovered what it means to wait actively, to get on with what needs doing while you are waiting.

Many other things feature intermittently on my to-be list: to be compassionate, creative, generous, understanding, non-judgemental, resilient, productive, responsible, involved etc.

Making a to-be list before I make a to-do list has made me much happier. I feel as if I live a purposeful, more meaningful and fulfilling life.

If you like this vignette of my life here in Gascony, you can escape to the south of France for a virtual visit by subscribing to my mailing list HERE.

Coming soon: Access to my “We live purposeful, meaningful and fulfilling Lives” community.

2 Replies to “Why you should make a to-be list before a to-do list”

  1. Thank you for this beautiful post, dear Margaretha! Making a to-be list feels much more pleasant than making a to-do list, to be honest! I will try this practice – writing down things I want to be (and to feel) and after that things I want to do.
    Have a nice evening!

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