Have you ever been a slave to your to-do list and were almost always frazzled at how colossal it had become, but still you couldn’t stop writing every little thing down? I used to picture my life spinning out of control without my to-do list, but in reality, it was spinning out of control because of my list. I needed a new, less cluttered, and more effective method, so I ditched the list.
Believe it or not, ditching your to-do list can actually free you up and make you even more productive. But how can you get more done if you don’t keep a list of what needs to be done? It’s simple: pay attention to the world, not a sheet of paper. Below are some of ways in which productivity can improve without the list and the advantages of post-to-do-list life:
I always wondered how people who don’t use to-do lists remember all the tasks they need to complete if they aren’t reminded of them constantly. Then one day it hit me: people who don’t keep a to-do list get things done as they come up. They don’t put tasks off for later by writing them down; they see something that needs accomplishing and they just do it.
A to-do list is just an excuse to procrastinate. Instead of living with that excuse, ‘non-to-do-listers’ complete chores as they arise. If they see dirt, they clean it up. If they have a work assignment due, they work on it. If they think of someone they haven’t spoken with in a while, they call them. Because if they don’t do it then, they’ll forget it and it will never get done.
How rewarding it is when you’ve crossed out every item on your to-do list. There’s no better reason to sit back, relax, and reward yourself for having accomplished everything. In order to clear your list, you worked hard even after you hit the wall, and when you finished, you were completely beat. But it doesn’t have to be so exhausting. Don’t let the list dictate your life; if you have high energy, go out there and see what can be taken care of, and when you hit your wall, take a break and relax. You’ll eventually establish an even flow of productivity that keeps you churning out great work.
It happens to every to-do lister. We get so wrapped up in our list that we start writing things down we do regularly, like if we straighten our homes daily, we write “Clean” on the list. It feels like we’re cleaning every day, because we cross it out every day. But instead of being receptive to the world around us, we’re ignoring some of the bigger issues. If we think we’re already cleaning by simply straightening, we tend to let the more infrequent major scrubbing and dousing that needs attention go unnoticed.
Don’t lose sight of what actually needs doing in order to fulfill what you think needs to be done. If you don’t keep a list, you’ll be more attentive to the world around you. Chores will call to you, and you’ll be able to listen.
Once you’ve abandoned the list, the things that can’t be done or simply aren’t done won’t mock you. I had items on my list that were months away from being able to be completed, but there they were, every day, calling out to me from the little lined paper hanging on my refrigerator door. Once I let go of the list, I filled out my calendar to reflect the tasks in the future and finally felt the chains of the list lifted.
Our days are dynamic, and so are our moods. Sometimes we’re just not in the mood to be completing chores all day, and we’d rather go to the beach or read a good book on the couch. Sometimes we just want to curl up in sweatpants and watch television until our heads feel numb. And that’s okay — that’s a part of living. Go with your intuition every once in a while. When you’re older, you’ll never regret the days you decided to travel, to surprise a family member, the day you tried something new, the long walks you took, or the times you relaxed in the sunshine. But you’ll certainly forget the days you spent slaving over your list of chores. So allow for those fluctuations of mood that take us to new places, those unexpected dips and bends that remind us life is much greater than the list.
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