To Do, and To Stop, with ‘Imi ola

Last night, I read something on Tim Milburn’s blog which really appealed to me, and I’m giving it to myself as a gift.

These days, I look for gifts-to-self which are not material things, for I have far too much space-taking stuff as it is, and I’m always trying to de-clutter my life. “Streamline!” is one of my favorite self-talking mantras. It gets louder each day, and a good thing it does, for it’s the mantra I seem to need the most right now.

There is information clutter too, a non-material form of stuff that is still substantial in the clutter category. You read blogs; think about how quickly new ones collect in your feed reader. When you get interested in people and their ideas, you unfortunately inherit the clutter they themselves wade through publicly with you. There are tons of lifehack blogs in our blogrolls which aim to help us focus, and cut to the chase with the best tips, however ironically these are the ones which are hardest to keep up with —have you noticed how productivity bloggers tend to be the most prolific ones, screaming for your attention several times a day? The phrase “ignorance is bliss” has never been more accurate.

What Tim wrote up, is a different sort of To Do listing that to me, is a wonderfully practical application of ‘Imi ola, the Hawaiian value of vision. It’s a To Do listing which helps you create your best possible life (the meaning of ‘Imi ola) day by day. He wrote,

“Last night, when I laid my head down on my pillow to go to sleep, I remember thinking” ‘This has been a successful day.’ ” This got me thinking: What is it that makes a day FEEL successful? I want to be able to capture that sensation so that I can lay my head down each night and experience that feeling of success.”

Boy, did he do a great job in getting me to visualize this for myself!

Tim continued with a list for him ”“ for his ‘Imi ola, and then he suggested we do the same things for our own lives, for we each have personal definition of success. We each have a ho‘ohana which is unique to us (you knew that was coming). I’m big on self-motivation and self-discipline, and Tim tied his ribbon on my gift-to-self when he added this tidbit,

“I think this is a beneficial exercise for anyone. I am more motivated and disciplined when I sense that what I’m doing has a high return ”“ that I’m being successful.”

And what I’d add, is that I’m being successful within ‘Imi ola form and function. Quite sweet.

Wow Tim, such inspiration! I know I’ll be tweaking this, but at first draft here’s mine. Tim listed 10 items, but I’m stopping at these 7 to increase my chances of accomplishing them all!

My ‘Imi ola Daily To Do List:

  1. Learn, teach, and coach as a whole process, even if with self. In my ho‘ohana, this is quite a big win when this gets shared with someone else (as a process they can use too). Not only do I sleep well, I dream well! I wake up eager to start a new day again.
  2. Give the Daily Five Minutes, for it keeps my MWA laboratory concocting more goodness. It also keeps me in the real-time workplace Aloha coaching I do across a cross-section of different industry, not just mine.
  3. Read and Write. This one-two punch and tactile pleasure delights me as my absolute best creative process.
  4. Complete something I’ve procrastinated about or have not been able to get to for good reason. Checking a task off and completing projects is pure heaven. Sweet closure.
  5. Get some exercise, preferably outdoors. I am truly keiki o ka ‘āina; child of the land, thriving on sense of place. Nature nourishes me, and fills me with the wonder which keeps me youthful in my curiosity, and humble as I witness God’s majesty.
  6. Serve. Be there for someone; keep a promise or fulfill a commitment. I freely admit to you that I’m great at taking care of myself, whereas this one takes more deliberate effort, thus it’s a must for this list!
  7. ÅŒpala ‘ole; banish the clutter in my life so I can enlarge my capacities and live with more meaningful abundance. So I can give more.

Now in my case, I know I need something to balance and fortify this. I get distracted too easily, and the freedom I do have in my life has obliterated the boundaries that serve as better structure for most people. Therefore, I’m taking this further.

My ‘Imi ola Stop Doing List:

(For sanity sake, this one is more of a daily-or-weekly mix to start. I sense I will need to develop a good rhythm with stopping!)

  1. No un-timed, un-planned web surfing. Computer time is just as bad if not worse than couch-potato time… just another screen. [In my case the computer IS the culprit; I don’t watch much tv at all.]
  2. No email inbox filing. That means I’m missing the boat with numbers 4. 6. and 7. in my To DO list above. If I don’t get to that empty inbox nirvana at the end of each day, I have GOT to do so in my Weekly Review. Which brings me to the next thing.
  3. No skipping of my Weekly Review. Without it, I lose trust in “my system” and my breakdowns and glitches start multiplying like rabbits. Hmmm” is that where the phrase ‘rabbit trails’ comes from? Makes perfect sense.
  4. No impulsive decisions. Decisiveness is natural to me, and as a strange bedfellow to the closure thing, I do take action quickly, sometimes too quickly. In particular, I’m learning to reshape my habits with this in regard to the business planning process I’m going through now. Finding this balance is hard for me, but I am making progress and this list will serve as a constant reminder.
  5. Stop interrupting people. I get pretty excited once I start engaging in conversations with others, and I need to calm down, listen more, and continually practice being more patient. Auwe… patience has never, ever been one of my virtues.
  6. Never start a day without a feasible, pragmatic plan that will better enable the best honoring of the hard and soft landscape on my calendar. If you know GTD or my MWA3P you know exactly what I mean. I’m a planner; there’s no denying how it works for me.
  7. No solitary days. I can very, very easily slip into this one with the solo entrepreneur’s life I lead, and I feel so much better with the human touch of interaction ”“ not only do I feel better, I AM a better person; more whole.

This is what I’m going to do next:

  • Print up this long version, and stick it in the journal I write in daily, so I can do the writer’s live-with-it-and-edit-it thing I do.
  • Print up a short version in two columns, one column per list, with both on a single page. I’ll print it, put it in a page protector. Three copies. One for the briefcase I take everywhere with me, one for my home office, and one for my O‘ahu office.
  • Read ‘em and do ‘em daily, until I BE ‘em.

New habit creation, here I come. Quite a gift Tim, mahalo nui! Looks like you have given me my best birthday gift this year!

Your turn Ho‘ohana Community, what will be on your lists?

The master in the art of living makes little distinction between his work and his play, his labor and his leisure, his mind and his body, his information and his recreation, his love and his religion.
He hardly knows which is which.
He simply pursues his vision of excellence at whatever he does, leaving others to decide whether he is working or playing.
To him he is always doing both.

— James Michener


  1. says

    I love it. I write something and you come along and make it sound SOOO much better. What a super team. It’s a gift in return.
    Is it your birthday? Did I miss that? Happy, Happy Birthday Rosa!

  2. says

    Mahalo nui Tim, yes, it’s my birthday ”“ I’m way past hiding it, and fully into giving myself gifts! Today I gave myself the day off; have been ignoring my phone and my email and instead, I’m indulging in the writing I love to do ”“ I’ll get to my plan for the week’s work tomorrow! This morning I made myself a triple-shot café latté, had the longest cleansing bath and shower, then put a fresh pair of sloppy pajamas on for the rest of my day ” I am not budging out of my nest I call home.
    Tim, you know you are my hero :-) and you’ve been a gift in my life since the moment I met you. Please, please know how much I appreciate you.

  3. says

    Create Your Best Life at Work with One Question

    On we have been talking about the Hawaiian value of ‘Imi ola this month; it means to create your best possible life. Let’s consider this; How do you accomplish ‘Imi ola while you are at work?
    The biggest bang for the buck …

  4. says

    Pete, I suspected that the web was trapping me into too much random clicking and I did a time audit on it during my Weekly Review: What a shocker, but then I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised … so now I allocate time online, and I’m much more focused about it because I can’t waste it!