I run a business. I'm writing a collection of short stories. I'm working on a product for writers. I'm a mother of two amazing teenage daughters. I have deeply connected relationships with my friends and chosen family. I teach. I coach. I create and design new programs. I work with clients to manage their businesses.

So, yeah, I'm busy.

We all are busy. And we all have "those days." You know what I mean. That day that you've either planned the night before or you realize the minute you wake up is back-to-back everything. Calls, appointments, meetings, tasks that need to be done, obligations to be fulfilled. It can be easy to see our days as one long list of to do's.

And we want to be more than just a sum of all our to-do list items. So what can we do to actually live life and not just go from one to-do task to the next? Here's what I've come up with that works for me.

1. What little actions of self-care can I put in place today? First, I acknowledge that it's going to be a busy day. I'm not a machine; I'm a living, breathing person. So I can't expect to just go and go and go. Activities like lunch are not optional. If I have back-to-back calls, I try to arrange a five-minute break in-between so that I can get up and walk around. If my energy is screaming, "Get out of your office!" I try to listen to that voice. Even getting up and walking outside and looking at the mountains can make a difference. I remember that there's a whole world out there.

In addition, I try to surround myself with things that make me feel happy. I light a candle. I use my best teapot for my morning tea break. I play my very favorite music. I might even take the time to put on make-up and wear one of my favorite outfits.

2. How do my activities help me reach my goals? I have a variety of goals as well as my core values. How are those items on my to-do list related to my goals? If I have specific activities to do for a client, how does that fit in with my goals and values? Well, completing those tasks fits in with my goal to provide high-level, excellent service. If I have a writing class to teach, how does that fit into my goals? By tapping into my passion and purpose to help people write well. And so on.

The more we can see WHY we're doing the things we're doing, then the easier it is to do them. If we can't see the importance of doing something, our energy is going to drag and we probably won't do a very good job. And, if we can't see the importance of that task, why ARE we even doing it?

3. What are my non-to-do-list things for today? Where does my fun lie? I try to schedule a free block of time. Yes, that sounds like an oxymoron. But here's what that ideally looks like for me: each day should have an hour where nothing is scheduled, and I can use that hour any way I like. On one of "those days," I may not get that hour, but I need to have something non-work-related that feeds my soul and fills up my reserves. Maybe that means going to Starbucks and reading for 30 minutes. Or cross-stitching. Or watching 30 minutes of a movie on Turner Classic Movies. We really should be able to fit 30 minutes of fun in somewhere. Really.

4. What one thing could I do today that would make me say, "Today is a GREAT day!"? Maybe it's one of those things in the list above. Maybe it's the fact that even though it was a crazy-busy day, I took a bath to relax at the end of it. Maybe it's that I stayed on top of everything and took pride in doing a good job.

5. Are there any actions I can take when I need an energy infusion? Again, taking breaks is necessary. I get up and walk around frequently. Sometimes, I'll go sit in a different room for two minutes, and that's all I need.

I take time to look out the window in my office and really see the world outside.

I read my affirmations aloud - slowly and really feeling them. I found this to be very helpful when I created three pages of affirmations as part of my Holosync® meditation membership. I had to write affirmations and record them on a five-minute recording (so that the affirmations can loop for 30 minutes). I spent quite a lot of time writing my affirmations and then practicing reading them out loud to get the timing right. Then I recorded, and as I did, I really felt them and meant them. Interestingly, that whole day I had more creativity and energy than usual. I've started implementing reading these affirmations out loud - and not just as another to-do - when I need to shift my energy.

6. Where can I structure small breaks, even just five minutes, in my day? While this fits in with #1 and #3, the difference in this one is that I actually schedule these breaks on my calendar. I tell clients that I need to end our meeting at such and such a time to give me that break. I stop five minutes before I have to pick up my daughter from school.

What I want to avoid most is that feeling of rushing from one thing to the next. If I've done my job in #2 and understand the importance of why I'm doing what I'm doing, then each activity is important. I want to attend to that activity and not multitask.

Along with scheduling breaks, I also break up my work activities into chunks of time. I've set timers for 10, 15, and 30 minutes, depending upon the activity and the time I have available. It's amazing how much I get done with deadlines, even arbitrarily constructed ones.

It all comes down to being purposeful and deliberate about what we do and why we're doing it. We don't want to be mindless drones. We want purpose and passion in our lives, even on crazy busy days.

Author's Bio: 

Dawn Shuler, Content Creator Extraordinaire, helps entrepreneurs and authors convey their deep message into compelling words, whether it's marketing material or a book, as well as to create powerful content to increase their credibility, visibility, and profitability. Her soul purpose is to help entrepreneurs unleash their authentic selves into their businesses through their content. She created the Writing From Your Soul system to help business owners connect more powerfully, reach more people, and make a difference. Download the free, 13-step system at www.WritingFromYourSoul.com.