“You know, Joel, the magic is fading away.
What will we do?
Enjoy the moment.” ~ Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
People create to-do lists to increase their productivity and well-being.
But I gave up writing to-do lists. There’s one kind of list I still use, however. Once a year, I make a not-to-do list by writing down the things I believe are bad for me.
It seems unusual, but it’s a very powerful tool to keep track of and eliminate some harmful habits that make us less productive. I’ve decided to gather some not-to-dos from my lists and offer them to you.
Below are seven of my not-to-dos:
1. Living lives of other people
House MD will somehow live without us and the Kardashians will probably not notice if we stop watching their shows. The lives of politicians and celebrities shouldn’t be more important to us than our own lives.
What really matters is our partners, kids, siblings, parents, colleagues and friends. We should pay attention to them; they deserve it more. It’s important to realize that we only live once and it’s better to fill our lives with unforgettable memories than watch other people do it on screen.
2. Thinking of the future instead of living in the now
The things that happen here and now will never happen again. We need to appreciate our time and our life right now, at this very moment. It’s important to work hard but not forget to travel and to enjoy this time. The experience of every step we take is crucial.
Sometimes, it’s difficult to realize the value of the moment we’re in until it’s gone. But at the end of the day we realize that these small moments are much more important than we think. We should try to appreciate every smile we get from a stranger, every warm conversation we have with a friend and every cup of tea that makes us warm in winter. These moments build our lives; we should give them some credit.
3. Putting important decisions off
Sometimes doing something takes less effort than making the decision to do it. Life is full of difficult decisions. There are many equally tempting choices we can make. And often the important thing is not what option we choose, but the act of choosing itself.
Making a decision can be painful. The lack of confidence about this or that option makes us suffer. However, the even worse scenario is not making this decision at all. If we refuse to choose, we won’t know where this or that path can take us. We need to be more confident, to trust our intuition and not to put off important decisions.
4. Saying “yes” when we need to say “no”
We shouldn’t take responsibilities that we cannot accomplish upon ourselves. Saying “yes” may open many doors, but it’s also important to be able to say “no.” If we don’t have time to participate in a new project, to do somebody a favor or to complete an unplanned task, it’s time to refuse. Sure, it’s hard to say “no” to a friend, relative or colleague. But what’s even harder is burdening ourselves with too many things and sacrifice our time and health.
5. Buying things we don’t need
The ability to manage our finances is one of the most important life skills to creating a comfortable future. The consumer society makes us think that happiness is the constant purchasing of new things. This society is not interested in us believing that happiness cannot be bought.
When out of the blue we have a desire to buy something, we should ask ourselves some questions: Is the thing that I want to buy better than the things I have? Do I really need it?
The best things in the world are free. Believe these words! Friendship, laughing, playing with pets, children smiling and romantic moments are all free. Money gives us comfort and there’s nothing wrong with enjoying it. But it’s important not to turn into a consumer machine that buys only for the short-lived thrill of buying.
If we want to know something about someone, we should just ask them! Don’t make assumptions; they lead to rumours. Why don’t we talk to this person instead of whispering behind his or her back and discussing questionable information?
7. Filling every free minute with different activities
Inactivity is necessary. Productivity is only possible when we get enough rest. Humans work in short impulses and require regular physical and emotional rest. The ideal productive day would look like this: activity, short break, activity, short break and so on.
We should find time to rest, reflect and refresh every day. We shouldn’t deceive ourselves: no matter how busy our life is, there is always a way to find five minutes to rest. It will make us less stressed and more productive.
If we want to become happy, we need to do something for it. Sometimes, though, we also need to stop doing things for it. By reducing these harmful habits, we can change our lives.
Author: Jana Rooheart
Editors: Caroline Beaton and Caitlin Oriel
Image: Octavio Fossatti/Unsplash