Have you ever tried to use to-do lists and daily tasks to make yourself more productive?
If you did you probably fell into that menacing loop of trying to do everything you have written…
I certainly did.
It starts from 1-3 simple things to do every day.
Then I add a couple more to it. Then a bit more.
Oh, I think reading a book for half an hour will be useful… And there is this mirror practice I wanted to do… And meditations help me…
Journal… Gratitude… Reflections… Writing… Comments on Reddit… I almost forgot about daily Twitter post too… And daily review…
Oh, if I count it takes 15 hours of constant action already? Well I have 1 more then to fit perfectly into my schedule. I’ll use it for a “needed” walk then…
Somehow there are always a lot of “important” stuff to do. If I skip it today, I will certainly miss out?
Some time for relaxation… Ah, I can handle today without it. And tomorrow…
And then one day more, I will definitely have some time afterwards to unwind!
Somehow this good-at-the-start idea turns into this 16-hour monster that I have to do each day.
Turns out it is literally impossible to keep up with it other than a few lucky days – something unexpected always creeps in.
Life is so random – it never goes according to a strict schedule.
You cannot predict the future.
But if I don’t do it perfectly – then I’m a loser and won’t be able to achieve anything in life!
The stories that we tell ourselves…
I am turning myself into an Executor – my only task is to do tasks. Sleep. Do tasks again. Sleep.
At least there is sleep…
Oh wait, there is this polyphasic schedule that allows you to get less sleep!
That sounds fun!
3 more hours to DO THINGS!
(I would add the caveat that polyphasic is actually fun for me, but you get the point…)
I fell into this loop so many times.
Hell, I would say I’m in one of them right now – there is still a lot of room for improvement – but there is certainly progress as well.
Previously I mapped my day and stuck to it no matter what.
Task lists. To-do lists. They had to be Executed.
When I realized I usually fail at planning time, I switched to “main goal” of the day and “secondaries”
It was an awesome idea to try and it worked – focusing on only main thing of the day was cool.
But then the secondary list grew as well… Mindset was switching from “success when doing good one thing in a day” to “I have to do as much as I can”
There was also no time for relaxation, because “it is not among actionable tasks”
So many crashes followed, where I beat myself for not doing enough…
I tried not having any tasks at all, but that turned into disaster when I couldn’t know what is better to do, and was worrying about “inefficiency” constantly.
I fucked around for a while with these schedules, going back and forth.
What I found working for me after – right now – is more relaxed (in many ways) approach.
Nowadays I do plan of the day – I learned that I do better when I have some idea of what to focus on – and it helps to give myself praise at the end of the day.
And I still schedule approximate time I want to spend on it – to just see how much is possible.
But this scheduling is just the Best Possible Result.
It is not a requirement anymore.
The biggest switch came from allowing to do nothing from that list.
Or to replace it with completely different actions throughout the day.
It is a suggestion – not a strict schedule.
Also – probably the most important thing – relaxation is a thing on that list now – and it gets time scheduled as well.
I started giving praise to myself when I focus on it.
If, instead of doing 8 hours worth of “hardcore things”, I get additional sleep for 4 hours, slowly cook and eat something and watch some videos – it is a win in my book.
“I focused on relaxation because that is what I needed instead. And I learned to relax a bit better” – this thought process is mind blowingly productive.
Now, while still doing about 16 hours worth of actions a day – I don’t feel like I am Executing them.
I do what I want.
And that “what I want” ends up giving me at least 1% improvement each day in at least one category of life.
If that is relaxation – talking with friends, sleeping or even watching vids and playing games – it is still an improvement of life overall. I became better at relaxation.
And also there is an additional win each day without failure – I become 1% better at scheduling my day and noticing myself and how I feel.
I would advise you to frame your days the same way.
There are no “strict tasks” to do – there are intentions to do something.
And – the always achievable intention – to be slightly better at something each day
There are no days when you completely lose.
Everything is a learning experience.
This mindset helps to win even more.