I enjoy organizing things. I am accustomed to keeping neat “To Do” lists, written notes, and just about anything that will let me arrange my tasks instead of actually accomplishing them. I recently stopped writing things down, and the results were pleasantly surprising…
I was keeping a list of things I would need to complete. I organized it by priorities, and at some point I even used Gina’s fancy “Todo.txt” wrapper for managing it.
What I realized after using such a scheme, is that my list was growing longer and longer with every week. After a while, the number of tasks became hard to manage, and the number of tasks became permanent residents on my task list. Why did this happen? Well for one, I turned my list into a “check box machine”. Complete a task, check off a check box. There was no mindfulness about it: I was just completing task after task. “All right, this one is done, let’s move to a next one.” - this is what was constantly running through my head. Secondly, by writing down a task on my list in the first place, my brain would register it as being completed, and then I’d go on with my day. Needless to say, certain tasks would sit on my list for an indefinite amount of time.
After a while, I deleted my “To Do” list. Instead, every day I ask myself a simple question: “What should I do today to succeed at what I am trying to accomplish?”. This way, work becomes achievement driven. I started choosing tasks which provide the biggest impact, dedicating some days just to minor “clean up” tasks which I didn’t deem important enough for productive days.
I threw away my “To Do” list, and I am glad I did it. I love being mindful about my day, I know exactly what I need to accomplish in order to succeed. It’s easy to get caught up in a daily route, and forget that your life isn’t just a list of things to do, but a number of goals you want to reach. By not relying on a written manifesto cluttered with tasks, I am forced to concentrate on the bigger picture, where what I set out to accomplish has the highest possible impact on my life and career.