As I’ve continued to enjoy living without a to-do list, I
keep looking for others online who share my practice. I’ve been able to find
precious few people who’ve discovered the peace that is possible when you toss
out your to-do list.
At first I thought this paucity of like-minded souls suggested
that I had such a novel idea that I should write a book about it. It took me
about a minute to determine that the book would be rather short. “Just do
stuff. No list.” When I Google the subject, I pull up countless websites that tell
me that what I am experiencing just isn’t possible; success requires a to-do
list, say the experts. As I read through
many simple living blogs, I have to wonder why it takes so long to explain how
to do things “simply.”
If I sound mocking, know that I mock myself as well. How
many hours have I spent reading and researching how to simplify my life? I
would be horrified to know how much of that time has been devoted to reading
about cleaning and organizing rather than cleaning and organizing. Does a woman
with a Ph.D. really have to be told:
If you don’t use it, need it, or love it, get rid of it.
Yet, I continue to read this advice repackaged in numerous
books and websites and act like it’s news to me. “Oooooohhhhh, I see. That’s
what I need to do.” All my list-making, software searching, and reading hasn’t
helped me live simply, but has certainly convinced me that I’m a simpleton. Why
do so many of us behave this way? Why do we have to invest so much of our time
and money into learning to do things we already know how to do? Are we really a
bunch of people who are so slow that we need to endlessly be instructed about
parenting, health, and productivity? Apparently.
So why are we so learning disabled when it comes to simple
living and life change for that matter? In A Thomas Jefferson Education, Oliver
DeMille argues that all education is self-education. In other words, unless you
WANT to learn something, you won’t. And when you DO want to learn something,
you won’t even need an instructor. You’ll just learn it. If you don’t really
want to declutter your house, you won’t—even if FLYLady makes a personal visit.
If you really DO want to declutter, you will. You won’t waste any time waiting
for your special FLYLady timer to arrive before you get started.
Don’t get me wrong. Some of us really do need an instructor.
But when it comes to most of the changes we need to make, what we really need
is the want-to. Here are some signs that you might not have the want-to you
You’ll get started after some future event (the
wedding, the baby, the retirement)
You often talk about why something didn’t work
(FLYLady, GTD, Love & Logic)
You can produce lots of great reasons why you
can’t do it (health problem, family member, money, too tired)
You’d much rather spend time reading about or
researching that which you should be doing
If you suddenly had a free day, you wouldn’t
spend time on whatever you “want” to do
If you knew you were going to be dead in six
months, you still wouldn’t do it
any of those statements sound like you, you aren’t ready to learn and do.
Because you aren’t, you’ll make things that are very simple very complicated.
But, you may ask, why would any reasonable person behave this way? Here are
some reasons to consider:
are trying to live up to someone else’s standard. It isn’t your standard. Deep
down you just don’t care, but you keep thinking you “should.”
feel guilty when you aren’t doing. Guilt makes you spend more time doing
nothing, not less.
afraid of the consequences of doing. Will people expect more of you than you
can deliver? Will you lose a relationship or gain one? Will your opinion of
yourself change for the worse?
angry at someone or at God. You don’t feel you should have to do something or
subconsciously you get back at someone by not doing it.
believed lies. You think perfection is possible or that you’re hopeless.
any of these reasons apply to you, how then can you find the want-to you need
to get things done? First, be brutally honest with yourself. Second, confess
any guilt, fear, apathy, or willingness to believe lies to God and receive His
forgiveness. Third, ask Him to give you the want-to. Philippians 2:13 says “It is God who
works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose." Fourth, tell
someone you trust why you don’t have the want-to and check in with them
regularly to talk about how you’re doing. Finally, memorize Scriptures related to the reasons behind your
unwillingness and meditate on them as often as necessary.
each day goes by without the use of a to-do list, I have found that I wonder
when my life will fall apart. This simple living just seems too…simple. I sometimes don’t know what to do with all my
free time (that’s why I decided to write this post). I miss some of the people
I met while trying to make my life more complicated. But simple living works.
Try it! If you want to…