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Working for myself has shown me that when it comes to being my own manager and deciding what I ‘should’ be doing with my time (note that behind most ‘shoulds’ is bullshit), I’m just not that realistic. I’m not alone though – many people are residing in the I Schedule The Crap Out of Myself Vortex. We basically burden ourselves with these never ending todo lists and when we look at what we expect to do in a week, we’re sometimes trying to do 2 weeks work or more in just one week.

What recognising how unrealistic I am about my time has taught me, is that I might be more realistic if I, 1) was more careful about what I said yes to, 2) managed my own and other people’s expectations through boundaries, 3) parked some ideas until a later date, and 4) recognised the great deal that I do achieve each day.

Being in pursuit of completing an unrealistic set of tasks is the pursuit of perfection.

It’s this idea that it’s good to have a lot of things to do and that we’re also going to feel so much ‘better’ and ‘happier’ when these things are completed. In truth, we end up feeling bad due to burdening ourselves with our own BS list of tasks that we’re unable to keep up with and then we feel ‘not good enough’ and that we’re failing some standard of super busyness that the rest of the planet is managing to live up to.

Creating these burdensome lists, which incidentally often reside in our head, can give us and others an impression of busyness and importance. They also distract us from aspects of ourselves or our lives that need closer attention.

In an effort to increase productivity a few years back, I read a little bit of Getting Things Done (David Allen, Piaktus) – and then promptly got caught up in my own busyness and procrastination… – but I always remembered one vital nugget of information that has influenced my thinking and attitude towards pretty much anything I put in my head:

The mind doesn’t distinguish between a task that you need to do / genuinely intend to do and something that you thought about in passing but aren’t actually going to do.

That’s why thinking about the oodles of things that you need to do drains your mojo.

It’s up to us to tell ourselves what is and isn’t a task.

It’s the same with bullshit – it’s up to us to work out the truth. Our mind won’t automatically do that work for us. That’s why we have to be careful of remaining attached to unhealthy beliefs and assumptions.

Ultimately, if we actually noted, recognised and appreciated what we achieved on a day-to-day basis, we’d recognise the madness of the todo list treadmill and get more realistic about our time while also having the time to appreciate and truly live our lives.

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