Coffee Talk with Vanessa Michelle | Life Is Meant To Be Experienced, Not ‘To-Do’ed’

by Vanessa Michelle

The last sip of my morning coffee… ahhh. Alright, time to review my Tuesday to-do list. As I’m reaching for my passion planner, I can feel my anxiety slowly creeping into my veins. The very thought of my task list sends me into a state of anxiety. I have no idea if I’ll get to complete everything or if I’ll even complete one task. My days can change so rapidly. It only takes one email or text to change my entire schedule. Photoshoots that have been planned for weeks can get cancelled within an hour of our scheduled time.

That’s really the scary yet exciting part of entrepreneurship — you are subjected to the unknown, often. So my daily tasks have to be flexible.

After reviewing some of my tasks that Tuesday, I realized my duties were not as intense as I thought. Just a few emails, updating some web pages, and a meeting. I couldn’t help but feel uncomfortable that I caused myself so much anxiety in such a short period of time. Not to mention that my task list was created by me.

I kind of felt betrayed by myself in that moment. I’m a huge advocate for creating wonderful experiences, intentionally — but there I was, stressed about a list of experiences I created. I carried this feeling for a few days. I also began to notice that my mind and body were more at ease after the tasks were completed. I even remember telling myself, “Ahh, now I can enjoy the rest of my evening.”

But no! How dare I say that to myself? I want to enjoy my entire day. I don’t want to wait until the evening to enjoy my day. I’ve created such a cool lifestyle, yet the manner in which I approached my to-do list was unacceptable. I knew I needed a change.

So I decided to add some creative flare to my to-do list. My goal was to feel more at ease throughout the day and to have fluidity through each new task. My life deserves to be experienced with more excitement.

So what changes did I make? Well, I decided to change the location of a few meetings to more visually appealing places, including creative co-working spaces like the OSC Tech Lab and the Microbusiness Center at the Akron-Summit County Public Library. I encouraged a client to try out a new coffee shop with me and have our regular meeting there as well. Lastly, I chose three new places to complete my side projects, one of which is a coworking space filled with other creatives like me.

It’s been two weeks since I made these changes and the difference is amazing. I didn’t know whether or not changing location would help me, but it did, and I think this could be a good start for others that may feel the same.

Adding some creative flare has helped me appreciate my work more. I’ve noticed that I am more mentally and emotionally involved in my meetings. I’ve even started intentionally centering myself and breathing more soothingly throughout the day. This has been so pleasant!

The point of life is to experience cool things, and we are responsible for that. I feel like I’m taking more ownership of my ‘life’ experiences and that feels great.

I know a lot of us look forward to completing a checklist for the day. To-do lists keep us accountable to our responsibilities, and the responsibilities we create for ourselves won’t always permit us to feel excited. But I believe creating a fun experience around our daily duties helps us enjoy life more. It may even make you more thankful. For me, I’ve had way more gratitude for what I do now that I’m creating a better environment around my to-do list. As I’m actively changing my experiences, I even feel more ownership of my tasks, more control.

Our life is an experience, and we have permission to dwell in that experience as much as we want. Life isn’t meant to be lived after our to-do list is complete. It’s meant to lived within the to-do list.

If you’re dreading your to-do list, I hope this will encourage you to reimagine a more creatively exciting one. It takes time to revamp a habit, so in the meantime, focus on incorporating places and sceneries you enjoy more. Stop meeting at the office and experiment with exciting cafes like Compass Coffee.

I’m so happy that I added a creative touch to each part of my to-do list. So I’d implore you to redesign your to-do list too. Make it more creative and fun. Why? Because you have been blessed with a life that warrants a to-do list — so make it epic!

Vanessa Michelle is a full-time Youtuber who has created a platform for creatives everywhere!  Her journey to journalism started at the University of Akron, where she was an on-air personality and TV-Host for WZIP-FM and ZTV Akron. Vanessa has been featured in local publications as ‘The Oprah of Youtube’ and one of Akron’s most unique entrepreneurs.