“To Do” lists: Take your nose off the grindstone and smell the roses

For many years I was proud of the long (actually very long) “to do” lists that I carried around with me and used to structure my life and give it meaning and purpose. I felt proud of myself for how good I became at creating the lists and getting everything on them done. And I was proud that I always had lots of “things to do, places to go, and people to see.” I was really Goooood! Or at least that’s what I thought.

Over time I finally began to realize that what I was “doing” fit Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity: “doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”

I was a bit slow to get the point, but one day I finally stopped running around like an idiot enough to reflect on my lifestyle.

I saw that I had a “to do” list that was very, very long and my desk was stacked with huge chaotic piles of papers. It looked rather ridiculous. When I looked at the absurdity on my poor desk, I was actually quite appalled. It was quite the sight to behold.

How did I finally see the light? I would occasionally lose my precious “to do” list and then I would have to start another. In creating the new list, I would completely forget some of the things I’d had on the lost list. Eventually, I would find the original list underneath a huge pile of papers on my desk and realize, “Oh my, I didn’t do ten of those things on the old list.” At that point I’d also realize that there was only maybe one item of the ten that had really been important, and even that item didn’t matter anymore. Eventually I noticed this pattern and the message sank in.

I decided to stop making a “to do” list and to trust that I would remember to do what really had to be done and other items would be left behind. I would somehow intuitively know what was necessary and in what order. What needed attention would always appear in the foreground of my awareness and be taken care of and all the rest would fade away into the background.

I learned to use inspiration rather than perspiration to get things done. I took my nose off the grindstone and learned to smell the roses. I now get more done, but have more fun doing what really matters, and I even have more time to relax.

So, reflect on how you get things done and adjust, if need be. Learn to trust that you have an internal guidance system, your intuition, that knows how to get things done a lot more effectively and efficiently than your ego mind does.

Life is not a race. Proceed at the speed of grace.

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