Living Life Without a ‘To-do List’ | Getting Things Done.
There was a time when I followed a rigid ‘to-do list’ that could help me achieve the dream life I desired.
I calculated the time I spent studying, the time I spent learning new vocabularies, and the time I spent learning the Guitar.
After two years, I still can’t focus on my studies, didn’t learn enough vocabulary, and of course, can’t even play the C scale on Guitar.
Once I realized self-study, learning vocabulary, and learning Guitar is my choice, and nobody has forced me to do it, I became disciplined without following a ‘to-do list’.
But, realizing that you have a choice requires shifting your mindset.
A mindset that makes you more disciplined and happy in your life, you actually enjoy the process and do not worry about the result.
The article is about shifting our mindset and getting things done on time.
The disadvantages of following a ‘To-do list’
Restrict a child from smoking, the more he will want to smoke.
Sooner or later, you will find him smoking with his friends or smoking on the corner of the street.
But, once you give the option to that child by mentioning all the advantages and disadvantages of smoking, the child will think twice before he smokes his first cigarette.
But, the child should be aware of his choices, and he is free to choose anything he likes.
The very same happened to one of my friends.
Your mind is like a child too.
Following a ‘to-do list’ is like restricting your mind from all the free choices you have.
The more you restrict your mind, the harder it becomes to get your things done.
No, I can’t go to a party, I have to study tonight.
Of course, studying is the right thing to do, but you don’t choose here.
You have to study because it’s impossible to go to the party.
You are following a ‘to-do list’.
Once you have the choice of either going to the party or studying because no one is forcing, even yourself, to select any, you always choose the better.
Let’s continue; it will make sense by the end of the article.
Three disadvantages of following a ‘to-do list’ are given below:
1. Shame and guilt
Let’s assume that we have a voluntary ‘to-do list’ for today.
It feels good to have a list and do it all.
A ‘to-do list’ gives motivation, as completing each task gives us a sense of accomplishment.
But, sooner or later, you are going to miss a day or two to follow your list.
Once you start missing days, shame and guilt start to take hold of you.
Of course, you will not feel that shame and guilt from day one, but it will grow over time.
It makes you feel like a loser because you cannot even complete your daily task; how come you will accomplish the big things in your life.
Shame and guilt are negative emotions.
It fogs your brain from clear thinking, and you start to lose interest in your daily activities.
You don’t feel like working anymore because you don’t have that intrinsic motivation.
Intrinsic motivation is the feeling good from within when we perform a certain task.
Once we lose that intrinsic motivation, it becomes very difficult to perform our actions.
Once you understand that, it is okay to miss your ‘to-do list’ because you are free to choose your actions, your shame and guilt start to disappear.
The thing that our mind wants is freedom.
The more you put restrictions, the more choices you take away from it, the more rebellion it will become.
We will talk about living life without a ‘to-do list’ and get things done in the later article.
2. Result oriented
What is wrong with being result-oriented?
When someone is more concerned with the result, he forgets to enjoy the process.
A process-oriented person lives in the present; a result-oriented person lives in the future where he is accomplishing things.
We all are wonderful people in the next year or after 10 years.
We will have a good physique, vast wealth, and tour the world with our loved ones.
But, we are nothing compared to the future self in the present.
So, we have to work hard to get there.
Once we have this mindset, we never go anywhere.
Once we look closely at our daily lives, we will notice that we are only repeating what we did in the past.
History has its way of repeating itself.
You cannot expect different results by doing the same thing, right?
Once a person starts focusing on the process, he starts to live in the present where he is nobody.
He doesn’t care if tomorrow is wonderful or miserable.
What he cares about is ‘ now’.
The goals only give him direction for his life, not the reason to work.
He works because he likes the process.
He accepts whatever the reality offers because he knows the result is not under his control.
The only thing he can control is the process.
Reality is unfolding every moment, and whether you like it or not, it will unfold on its own.
The only power you have is to focus on the process.
Following a ‘to-do list’ makes a person result-oriented because he is more concerned with ticking points off rather than enjoying the work.
Once you fail to complete your task and do not achieve your desired result, stress, negative thinking, anger takes hold of you.
Stress is always connected with the future.
There is no stress at this moment.
When you are always connected with the outcome, there will be stress in your life.
But, we are always connected with the outcome since childhood.
We were taught to study hard to have good results, not because we like studying a lot.
We were taught to focus on our goals to have a better life, give our 100% to get that gold medal, work hard to get that promotion, etc.
The list can go on for days because whatever we do, we do it to achieve some kind of result.
We don’t want to take a single step if there is nothing in it for us.
But, why do those people become successful who focus on the process more than the result?
Why do they keep doing it, day in and day out, despite the odds and obstacles they face?
Why do they wake up early and start practicing their game without having any certainty about their future?
I mean, what are they thinking?
They do it because they like doing it.
Rather than focusing on the future where they may or may not achieve the desired result, they focus on the process where all the good things are happening.
Once a person has this mindset, he is free from all the stress because whatever the reality will unfold, he is ready to accept it.
Following a ‘to-do list’ create stress because it is connected with the future.
In your ‘to-do list,’ you want to make money by 25 and get married by 30, but once things do not happen according to your wishes, stress and depression take hold of you.
You don’t have to work just because it is on your ‘to-do list’.
You work because it is your choice to work instead of playing video games or window shopping.
Freedom of Choice
You always have a choice at this moment.
It is the responsibility of your conscious mind to make a better choice for a good life.
But, nobody is forcing you to make better choices; that’s up to you.
To become successful and happy in life, we don’t need to fight with the external world.
It is our inner world that always sabotages our plans and goals.
It is always our internal weakness that is responsible for our fall.
Fighting with this internal weakness is a choice we need to make every moment of our life.
But, this fight and struggle give joy and meaning to us.
You have seen people smiling when they conquer their fear, greed, desire, jealousy, and negative thinking.
But, you cannot conquer your greed, fear, desire, jealousy, and negative thinking for good because they are natural human qualities.
Here conquer means doing the right thing despite feeling those negative emotions.
If you are feeling lazy to go to the gym today, you have a choice to rest at your home.
Also, you have a choice to go to the gym.
Nobody is forcing you to do either of them.
If you think you have to go to the gym because it is your leg day, and you have no other choice, sooner or later, you will lose the internal motivation to do so.
Therefore, once you feel lazy, you can sense that laziness and tell yourself, “I notice that I am feeling lazy today and don’t want to go to the Gym.”
Once you acknowledge your emotion, you can sense a detachment from it.
You will realize that you don’t have to do what your emotions tell you to do every time.
You have a choice to go to the gym, despite your emotion.
Once you go to the gym, you conquer your emotion.
Here the difference is that going to the gym is a conscious choice you made for a better today, not because you have to but because you want to.
There is a big difference.
But, most of us are unaware that we have a ‘choice’ to make the right decisions.
First, we need awareness to live without a ‘to-do list’.
If you have paid attention to your mind, you will notice that your brain is constantly talking.
It keeps telling you what to do and what to avoid.
Most of our decisions in a day are unconscious.
We don’t even know when we start playing video games instead of working, start watching youtube videos instead of taking our dog outside, start disliking someone without any reason, etc.
Some voices are louder, like bad habits and addiction.
If a porn addict stops watching pornography for a few days, his mind starts screaming.
These voices are easy to detect.
The difficult ones are the subtle ones, like sleeping till 9 am, lying to someone for your benefit, overeating, etc.
If you don’t pay attention to those voices, you will keep doing what you were doing until now.
No matter what plans you make in life, you can never execute those plans if you fail to hear those unconscious voices.
This is the reason why we go back to our old habits after a few days of sobriety.
But, one cannot stop their bad habits just because they start noticing them.
The mistake we make while quitting a bad habit is forcing our will to stop those voices in our heads.
That’s not possible.
The only thing you need to do is to become aware of that voice.
You don’t need to label it or put any judgment as good or bad on those voices.
You just need to realize that it is there in your head, telling you to do things, and that’s all.
The more you become aware of your thoughts and emotions, the more you will detach your actions from those voices.
You will realize that you have a choice regardless of the emotions you feel.
If you don’t feel like going to the gym, you can still go because you choose to do it.
Living without a ‘to-do list ‘doesn’t mean living without plans in life.
It only means to live in the present rather than attaching yourself to your future self.
It also means becoming a process-oriented person rather than always focusing on the result.
This is the whole idea behind this article, “You don’t have to do something because it is in your list, you do it because you want to do it.”
You always have a choice, and when we are aware of our choices and realize that it is up to us to choose the best, we always choose the best.