by Donna Matthews

Let’s talk about your funeral today. Will it be in a church or funeral home? How will people find out? Who’s your legacy appointee for Facebook? Who will speak in your memory? What will they say?

And what does my death have to do with my productivity???

Thousands of years ago, the Stoics practiced meditating on this very topic and often referred to the idea of Memento Mori – Remember you will die.

Memento Mori | Slay The Chaos

Isn’t that a tad bit morbid?

Is meditating on death a morbid practice? Not unless you digress and get distracted by all the horrible ways you can die. But the actual dead part? The part about not being around anymore? It’s an oft-forgotten aspect to your personal productivity.

Productivity isn’t necessarily busy. It’s about being focused on what matters most to you. Take for example cleaning the house. You spend the day in a whirling dervish and afterward, you enjoy a hot cup of tea or glass of wine in all the spic and span glory you’ve created.

But now… imagine you have a new book you want to study, or you have a craft or skill you’re trying to improve or master. Or you dream of revamping the backyard garden. Or you kid wants to play cards with you.

Which action matters most to you? Cleaning house or learning or planting the new garden? Which one brings life to your soul?

It’s not that we never clean the house but one urgent but unimportant task turns into days of relentless chores turns into weeks of undertaking the same o same o turns to months of precious energy spent on things insignificant to your long-term goals… If we aren’t continually intentional with our time, it slips from our fingers like sand in an hourglass.

And it’s not just YOUR death

Imagine if your precious loved one died today. How are you going to feel if y’all spent the last month with meaningless time together? Or your last dinner together was spent looking at phones instead of sharing your day, thoughts, your very self?

I’m totally not trying to make you feel guilty, depressed, or helpless.In fact, I think most writers would agree that we often write to ourselves as much to others.

But what I AM TRYING TO DO is to get you to WAKE UP and embrace the FACT that your life is so very precious and so very ephemeral.

But what I AM TRYING TO DO is to get you to WAKE UP and embrace the FACT that your life is so very precious and so very ephemeral. CLICK TO TWEET

Let each thing you would do, say, or intend be like that of a dying person.
– Marcus Aurelius

How much differently would you live out your days if you had a month or a year left to live? It’s a hard question because I think we’d all quit our day jobs and blow all our savings – I know I would. But, yeah, reality beckons…

Would you wait to write the book?
Would you wait to take the trip?
Would you want to spend time on final arrangements when you could be running around completing your bucket list? Loving on your peeps?
Make amends? Seek forgiveness?

Alright, Alright…I’m going to die…now what?

Let’s look at three ways acknowledging your eventual death will make you more productive:

You will prepare, protect, and put your affairs in order:
“Let us prepare our minds as if we’d come to the very end of life. Let us postpone nothing. Let us balance life’s books each day…The one who puts the finishing touches on their life each day is never short of time.” Seneca

This point is two-fold:

Estate Planning: At a very minimum, you need a will in place. This document is invaluable to those you leave behind. Some other things to consider are Power of Attorney documents, critical banking data and relevant passwords.

Always harnessing technology to my advantage, I’ve recently discovered a company called Everplans ( and am in the process of setting up my personal directives. This nifty website walks you through numerous checklists and allows you to store your information in a single location. If electronic storage isn’t your preference, you can click here for a free printable to help you get started manually compiling documents.

Daily Review: Each evening, take a few minutes and consider your day. Where did you excel? Where could you improve? Do you owe an apology? Is your side of the street clean?

You’ll make priorities…well… PRIORITY:
Stephen Covey wrote, “Begin with the end in mind.” What is your end? Visualize your funeral. What is it that you want to be remembered for – there will be the accomplishments but there will also be attributes.

“She was kind.’

“He was a good friend.”

Now – what changes do you need to make for that to happen? Do you need to go back to school? Buy a book and brush up on some skills? Change jobs? Maybe join a support group to lose weight or to address an emotional or physical addiction. Whatever IT is – JUST start. Be intentional about your Time.Every.Single.Day

You will stay above the fray and your quality of life will improve:
In a hundred years from now will this matter? Your clean house won’t but the system you created might. Inbox zero and that last tweet won’t but the time spent with your child probably will still matter in the lives of their children. The words written by your soul might provide comfort and guidance much like the Stoics do today for us.

Our days are already filled with distractions, vitriol, fear, noise, rapid change, but knowing it could all be over today helps us have the courage to step back and say no.

“No, I WILL REBEL – my life is precious and ain’t nobody got time for this day to day societal minutia.”

” I WON’T live in this temporary mess.”

“I WILL rise above the fray and keep my eye on the prize.”

Yes, you will die.


But probably not today.

So live it loudly and entirely. LAUGH. LOVE. RISK. DREAM. CREATE. But also, take care of your business and protect your loved ones. Spend your days intentionally. Stay above the fray.


About the Author

Donna Matthews, owner of Slay The Chaos, is a passionate soul eager to help others clear the chaos from their minds, souls, and homes with keep it simple, real life, productivity and organizational solutions. In addition to one-on-one client work, she shares regular encouragement on her blog and social media outlets.