I used to live by my To Do Lists. Everything was organised by lists, I would have several to cover each aspect of my life.
Did it make me more organised?
It made me THINK I was more organised.
In reality it created a layer of stress I didn’t really need. It got to the point where I couldn’t function properly without my lists.
My lists became a daily pressure, a hindrance rather than a help. Every day I would feel like a failure as I hadn’t finished the list. On the rare occasions when I completed the list, the satisfaction was short lived as the next morning the whole cycle would start again. It became a prison of my own making.
One day, I stopped writing lists.
Oh wait, you want to know what happened?
Life continued exactly as it had done before. I got the same amount done, and I procrastinated on the rest in the same way as I did when I had a list. Except I no longer had to write lists, manage lists, or feel guilty when the list was not as complete as I felt it should be.
I also discovered that Parkinson’s Law seemed to creep in with lists. In the same way that work expands to fill the time, so your jobs expand to fill your To Do list.
There was a lot less to do when I didn’t have a list.
So what do you do instead? Stuff still needs done?
Just do the jobs as soon as they occur to you to do them. The important stuff will rise to the top and get done, the rest you won’t consider until it too, becomes important.
We are a society obsessed with being busy and productive. Not having a list of jobs to do every day in life is liberating. What’s left is hours and hours where you can just choose what is important in the moment.
You don’t need a list to tell you what you need to do. Before humans learned to write, they would just use their brains and remember what to do and when. I’m sure a lot of it was instinctive. When you begin to rely on lists and schedules, you lose the ability to instinctively remember what to do. Also, what’s more minimalist than just using your brain to remember things!
Do you rely on To Do lists? Would you ever consider giving up your lists?
Read all the articles in the Simplicity and Minimalism series here.