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The Art of the 'To Do' List - CBT for Everyone

We seem to currently be experiencing an epidemic of mental health issues. Anxiety, particularly, is fuelled by our modern lifestyles. Although awareness of mental health issues is growing all the time, thanks to high profile campaigns such as those recently headed up by the young Royals, the stigma and resistance to admit to having a problem is still rife.

Simple techniques used in CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) can have a huge impact on lives and are easily transferrable to anyone struggling and feeling overwhelmed, not just those officially recognised as dealing with anxiety.

1. The Beauty of a Good Diary
This may seem incredibly obvious to anyone who is naturally well organised, or who just loves stationary! But, when life becomes increasing busy, stressful and you fall in to the trap of feeling overwhelmed, planning and organising can sometimes be the first thing that slip. Leading to a vicious cycle. Keeping a physical diary can be a great way to start taking back control of life. A physical diary makes all the difference too. After years of juggling various online diaries, linked to work email, personal phone and work phone, it can be difficult to keep track of everything digitally.

2. Ten Minutes Planning
The key is to keep one main physical diary and carve 10 minutes out of EVERY morning to look at the diary to plan your day and look ahead to the rest of the week. It can seem at first like the last thing you should be doing is waste 10 minutes sitting and playing with a diary but the act of planning will keep you on track help to begin the day in a calmer manner than getting up and rushing around trying to complete tasks immediately.

3. The 'To Do' List
An essential part of the physical diary! Keeping a physical 'to do' list including everything in the front of the diary to keep track of tasks in a visual way. Then split them out into daily tasks during your 10 minutes of daily planning. Be realistic, set a handful of tasks a day to avoid feeling overwhelmed and tick them off at the end of the day. When it comes to prioritising tasks, split them in to A,B,C and D tasks.
A- Absolutely must complete today
B- Better to do today
C- Can do today but not essential
D- Delegate!

4. Keep Going!
Keep up the practice of setting aside 10 minutes, even if you don't feel like you need to on a particular day. It helps to plan ahead and feel more composed for anything you know is coming up. The habit allows ten minutes of breathing space before the day begins. Make it a bit of a ritual, make yourself some coffee and make your diary pretty! You'll be more inclined to use it and before you know it, it'll be your own personal Bible!

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