no to do list

the original jotted note that i just emailed to myself a little while ago to write this post: “the idea of not having a to do list to force me to take action to get done what I need to get done. a list allows me to forget and procrastinate…”

leo babauta once wrote about the notion of NOT having a to do list. he said two things: one, having a to do list that you don’t ever finish causes stress. why do that to yourself? two, he said you already know, deep down, what you should be doing next.

i loved the idea. and the idea has rattled around in my head ever since.

and this is a hard concept for me to ponder, because i am the classic case of the person who thrives on checking off completed tasks. i love that shit. i mean, i really love that shit. i’m the guy who will add an item to the list just so that i can immediately cross it off the list.

despite this, it is true that my to do list gives me stress. i hate it when the day ends and it isn’t complete. hate it. what’s funny is that most of the shit left undone isn’t important, but it’s stuff that i’ve said needs to get done.

but i recently had another thought, the idea that having a to do list enables me to procrastinate. true enough, if i don’t want to tackle an action item, i just bump it to tomorrow’s list. and so on and so on. this is stupid and childish.

one of the reasons i put things on to do lists, or put something on a table so that i will see it, such as a pile of dry cleaning to remind me that i need to drop it off, is so that i don’t forget.

but adding stuff to my to do list is sort of forgetting about it, because since it is on the list, i don’t have to remember it, or think about it, or worry about it.

i’m wondering if removing the to do list would also help me get harder things done, and slow the procrastination. have you ever not slept because you were worried about not waking up in time for an early appointment? well, same concept. if i’m worried about forgetting something, then maybe i’ll just do it.

but most of the time, i know when i should be doing a big, hard, audacious task. instinct tells me it is what i need to focus on next. instinct tells me it is worth doing, and NOT putting it on a damn to do list, so that i will “forget…”

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