Let’s talk about to-do lists, daily schedules or some other stuff that is supposed to make us do useful stuff when we don’t want to.
At the start of the year I started doing these lists, and after 2 months had 18 daily tasks in it (before I disrupted it by moving countries).
And 5 months ago I got back into it with a maximum of 7 daily tasks, but scheduling time (0.5-6h) and priority for every action. A week ago it got to 14 hours of different activities each day.
Even with these tight schedules in general I ended up missing about 30% of that list. Procrastination, distractions and untracked life stuff like cooking and groceries took up my precious time and I was failing to meet my expectations. And then the obvious happens – I beat myself up with that list of unfinished tasks.
I found to-do lists very useful in being productive at the start – life became structured, I knew where and when to give my attention and I was getting motivation boost from the results. But after a while (with this kind of time pressure) each of them felt like I was “on the rails” – all of the things there became a chore. I just had to “shut up and do what needs to be done”.
I hated it. But I stuck to them, because I wanted as much “efficiency” as I could get, and it was the obvious choice.
Lately I finally noticed how strict planning was giving me more cons than pros. I was unproductive, was feeling bad about being unproductive, and still haven’t had time to relax for even an hour. It turned into a nightmare.
I had to do something. With the final push from my coach, last week I switched to the “innovative” technique of Just Trusting Myself © – basically having some direction, but doing what I want in the moment.
Surprisingly, I ended up doing almost as much, and probably with more quality, than when I created these strict boundaries for myself.
I still have some plan in the morning – dot point list with the ideas I want to do. But if something in the course of the day causes me to not do almost anything from that list – it is ok. It can be dropped or rescheduled for later. With this approach there is less procrastination and distractions for me, as I actually want and enjoy doing the things I’m doing.
Even the everyday “chores”, like work and making photos (secondary project) switched from “I hate even thinking about them” to “Let’s see what I can do today”.
Mindset is a freaking powerful thing.
As much as “enjoying the process” sounds cliché, I hope that this article may become a wakeup call for some of you – it was for me when my mentor suggested trying it.
To-do lists are still very useful tool, and organizing your life helps with everything.
But if you find yourself getting dead-tired from everyday plans and schedules – drop them for a bit and give trusting yourself a try, as scary as it may sound.
Worst case scenario – you’ll waste a couple of weeks and return back to strict structure. And remember – there is no time limit – we have all our life to work on this.
Best case scenario – you’ll start to actually enjoy life process, even with all the everyday “chores” that will become just “things I want to start” at that point.
I think it’s worth the risk.