Zen and the Art of a To Do List
by Nick Grimshawe
Why do you need to use a To Do List? I can hear you mumbling, "what a stupid question". Up to a few days ago, I thought the same thing. With out a To Do List how do you stay organized? Now I believe a more basic reason exists. Maybe, you already understand, a To Do List on a more metaphysical level, maybe the obvious escaped me. If the obvious escaped me, maybe it escaped you as well.
A Little Background.
I have taken many time management courses. I am a fan of Steven Covey and "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People" I've worked with first, second, third and forth generation time management approaches. Over the years I've improved but never at a fast enough pace to keep up with the growing workload. Anyone out there experience the same thing? Time management subscribes to a universal law: Nature abhors a vacuum. The more time you free up, the more work there is to do in that freed up time.
You probably know someone who handles the various task required of them with aplomb, never break out in a sweat, and never fail to meet a deadline. Maybe you are one of those lucky individuals. I am not.
I've walked around with a huge three ring binder with daily planning sheets, which contain all your worldly data. I have worked with pocket size, organizers, with little notebooks stuffed in pockets and of course the ever-familiar To Do List.
To begin with, I am not the most organized person in the world, but I am a lot better than many others. Not being the worst however, changes nothing, except to make me feel a little better than someone else, which is childish, if you think about it.
Resigned to my fate, I decided to live with my handicap. Lots of people have handicaps of one sort or another. Even Tiger Woods has a handicap. Does this sound like a lot of justification to you? Your right, but no other solution suggested itself to me till this week when revelation struck.
A Stumble in the Woods
I'm going to change the subject for a minute or two.
I like to walk in the woods near my home. I take my two dogs, my backpack, and a lunch and off into the woods we go. The trail I use is a rough up hill and down workout. Yet I do some of my best thinking in deep silence.
This particular week I spent a lot of time focusing of my inner being, attempting to still myself and let the awesome peace of the forest filter down through my soul. The day before everything went smoothly. I managed to relax, breathe in the vast stillness of the forest all around me. I felt centered, calm and released from the vortex of time swirling all around me. I looked on this as a metaphysical achievement. Could I finally be getting all those books and tapes about the Laws of Attractions and Zen?
Unfortunately, the very next day contradicted me. My mind kept wandering. One innocent thought here, lead to a thought there lead to some horrible moment out of my past, or a yet to happen argument with a co-worker. Annoyed I tried harder to focus on building the inner peace, bring the silence of the forest inside or me. Of course, the harder you try the worse things get in the metaphysical universe.
Climbing up some steep stairs cut into a slope, my feet went from under me. The lower part of my body, just below the waist slammed into the wooden step riser. That hurt. Instead of cursing however, I found myself laughing. The universe wants to get me to pay attention. The dogs came back to question my lack of mobility. Up I got and off we went again. I continued to stumble over rocks, branches and cotton wood fluff, all the time my mind followed its own unique paths down dead end alleys.
At the turn-around point, I felt happy to sit down while still in one piece. Then mercifully my brain shut down. I stopped to listen to the forest. The quiet inculcated my whole body with a deep sense of well-being, and peace. This is it, this is what I'm searching for, this deep tranquility of soul. In that state you touch the soul of all life, you fuse one with the all.
In this state, I asked myself one little question.
I would like to say the explosion that followed uprooted trees and made the earth tremble. The truth is, the dogs didn't even blink, as I came to an understanding of a To Do List.
A To Do List is a file transfer protocol that allows you to take a metaphysical quality like a thought and up load it to the physical universe in the form of paper and words. This allows the mind to stop worrying about it, hence inner peace that allows converse with the universe.
The trick is to upload the right file. If you put things on the To Do List that are not in the file, nothing happens, except to create more work than you need. Instead, write down only what is churning in your mind.
Here are a few rules I found worked well with my new understanding.
Write your list down in the order they occur. Don't second-guess or question: don't interfere with the upload.
Do the list in the order you wrote it down. You (metaphysically speaking) dictated the list in the correct order.
Only skip an item if you need to do more research in order to complete the task. Other wise do the list in sequence.
Write the list the night before. That prevents the busy mind syndrome, which leads to lack of sleep.
What you don't accomplish, usually the stuff on the bottom of the list, carry over, again at the bottom of the list. If they are important, you (Metaphysically) would have placed them higher.
That's it. Once I realized why I needed a TO Do List two things happened.
I stopped 70 % of the distractions going on in my head and found I could hold that silence of the forest inside of me through the whole day, which calmed me and brought me more in tune with the universe.
I began to get my To Do Lists done!
Nick Grimshawe has been writing for most of his life. He now focuses on his Inspirational Blog, and through http://www.listgrowandprosper.com, on teaching people how to build their Contact Lists.
Nick Grimshawe may be contacted at http://www.beautifulsummermorning.com or firstname.lastname@example.org