There is no doubt that as of right now, you have already done at least one thing that wasn’t on your to-do list for today.
There is no doubt that every day we are faced with a mountain of tasks that are bigger than our own closets.
There is no doubt that focus is a priority while distractions gain momentum.
For as long as I remember, I have been working with my clients on the idea of prioritizing important tasks over the urgent. And I always get pushback.
If I don’t do the urgent it will just add up.
I can’t just stop doing everything.
Actually, you can and you must if you want to make things happen, take up space and create the impact you want to make in your lifetime.
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WHAT IS THE INNER TASKMASTER?
In my private Brave Yes Coaching, my beautiful clients — who are creators or changemakers — often talk about being frustrated that they can’t seem to make time for what matter, including their own well-being needs.
But, almost always the issue is never not enough time because almost always the urgency of life has taken hold and what matters most is shoved to the sidelines.
And almost always, we end up talking about your inner taskmaster.
We all have one.
Mine is fierce and related to her sister part of me — my inner critic.
But these two are separate parts that must be addressed meaningfully.
Your inner taskmaster is voice inside your head that is feeding you a running to-do list — an invisible to do list that keeps you constantly moving and running and non-stop busy.
The inner taskmaster is against rest, play, downtime, pleasure, joy, naps, creativity and anything else that does not feel productive.
Your inner taskmaster is the No. 1 cause of derailment of every great idea you’ve ever had that you didn’t make happen.
THE GOAL OF THE INNER TASKMASTER
I first noticed a longtime client’s inner taskmaster rising up when session after session she was getting frustrated with herself for not making more time for art and creativity.
There’s just so many other tasks to do, she said, flat out annoyed.
The signs were all there — she had an inner taskmaster that was feeding her brain more and more tasks to do … little itty bitty pieces of busy work that filled every nook and cranny of her day until she collapsed into bed far later than she wanted and feeling like she didn’t really do anything at all.
THE INNER TASK MASTER IS HERE TO KEEP US DISCONNECTED FROM WHAT MATTERS.
It’s here to keep you working constantly to prevent everything from falling apart.
You don’t want anything fall apart. So you will keep surveying your environment to ensure everything and everyone is safe. This means you spend a crushing amount of time doing productive, preventative mental, physical and emotional labor that often has nothing to do with your dreams, your goals or your personal needs.
A recent client epiphany led to the realization that the inner taskmaster was keeping them from literally enjoying her time at home. She was too busy assessing the potential collapse of everything all around her family life. The schedule. The house. The kids. The marriage.
And then she realized how that same inner taskmaster is showing up at work as a leader perhaps stressing her and her team more than necessary.
LEARNING TO QUIET THE INNER TASKMASTER IS A PROCESS THAT BEGINS WITH NOTICING IT.
When one of my clients gets into a session and starts talking about her overwhelm, her lack of time, her feelings of frustration at not making time for herself or her passion projects, I am there to remind her that her inner task master has taken over.
The first and fastest way to quieting the inner task master is to notice when it is calling the shots and controlling the show.
The inner taskmaster will tell you that you have to hurry up and get ALL THE THINGS DONE before you can rest.
And, of course, your inner taskmaster will keep you so busy because the finish line is impossible to find. The enoughness is blurry.
WHEN A NEW TASK SHOWS UP, IS IT RELATED TO YOUR GOALS, YOUR DREAMS, YOUR NEEDS? OR IS IT BUSYWORK?
When we know what matters most to us, it’s easy to decide if a task is important or just urgent. The little fires that pop up each day are going to always need to be assessed.
The problem is when we don’t know our purpose, our path forward. If your are not clear on your goals and dreams, it’s even easier for the inner taskmaster to take over and run your day.
Write down your important, life-giving goals and the tasks that belong to them.
And then when a new random “little fire” pops up that calls your attention, assess the real risk that is unfolding.
This is when slowing down and pausing before each task can be a great help.
And take note.
Perhaps that urgent task isn’t as urgent as tending to yourself, your bigger dreams or your ways or your ways of being connected in this world.