Grab a piece of paper and draw a line down the center of it.

In the left column label the top with NEED TO DO.

In the right column label the top with SHOULD Do.

Over the next few days capture the thoughts that cross your mind that start with you saying or thinking “I need to ____.” and “I should _____.”

For example:

  • I need to clean out my purse.
  • I need to put away my luggage.
  • I need to research cost of service.
  • I should call my friend.
  • I should start stretching every day.
  • I should stop procrastinating.

The “shoulds” sound great in theory, but aren’t a requirement or obligation. It’s up to you if you do them or not. They aren’t as pressing at this moment in your life, even if they truly are something that may eventually become a “need to do” soon.

The “needs” are more pressing and holder a higher value to you. When you need to do something, usually there is some type of obligation you have, or a to-do that will help you achieve a specific result you want in your life.

If you have to-do thoughts that start with “I have to…” or “I want to…”, then you can make lists capturing those type of “to-do” thoughts as well.

My main to-do thoughts begin with “I need to…” or “I should…” (especially when I’m speaking to someone about my own life!) or “I want to…”

The “have tos” can be tasks that you have obligated yourself to complete. In other words, you don’t have a choice (well, really, you ALWAYS have the choice of what you do or don’t do.)  What happens if you don’t get the “have tos…” done? If the effect of not doing it is detrimental enough, you’ll do it!

The “want tos” are usually actions that aren’t required, and instead they hold more excitement or interest to you. Do lots of these!

At the very least, when you make these lists you can become more aware of how you think and what you think about. All things you think about are important to you for one reason or another. And, if you notice a reoccurence pattern of the same to-do popping up, then do it so you stop overworking your brain.

Once you’ve accomplished tasks on your list, then your brain chatter will beging making proud statements of accomplishment, like “You did it!”  “You go!”