For my birthday a friend of mine gave me a notebook of fill in to do lists, with quirky phrases like
“Today, after coffee, I will do ___________________&_________________________
Mhmhmhmhmhm, much better.”
You just have to fill in the gaps. I am not a natural list writer so I find these prompts useful. My problem with list making is that it takes me so long to write one I find myself running out of time before I even start. Or, the list goes astray. It is rare that my to do list gets to done.
So imagine how I felt when I turned the page on my notebook of lists and saw this beauty:
“I’ve always wanted to ______________________________________________Why not today?”
The page was decorated with blue clouds on a white page. What in my wildest dreams could I do? This had to be something I’ve always wanted to do and not just something I'd had an idea of doing today when I woke up this morning or last week as a passing fancy.
No, it should be something that I have been putting off every single day of my life!
Then I realised what that something was. That something I’ve always wanted to do. It was to do nothing. Zilch. Nada. No obligations, no chores, no work. So I wrote, “have a do nothing day” dutifully in the designated gap in my new notebook.
But like most of my lists, what is written down usually remains in its own little list fantasy-land.
I had been up since 6.30 in the morning. Dropped off my kids at the kindergarten and school, taught for an hour at the university, and I realised that, unfortunately I had already done quite a lot and it was only eleven o’clock. Undaunted and very excited at the prospect of doing nothing I went to the kitchen to make a cup of tea and some toast. While the kettle boiled I pictured myself lounging about in bed and reading, already weighing up whether reading Religion for Atheists by Alain de Botton would be too much like hard work to qualify.
By the time the kettle boiled, I remembered I had to email someone about some freelance work. Oh, and the other list I had written earlier in the day came back to me where I’d promised myself I would do some writing for the blog. And then there were the chores, which would just build up, wouldn’t they if I left them another day?
All in all, I could see that doing nothing was going to be hard work, and demand a great deal of discipline. It would involve introducing a new habit of doing a little bit of nothing everyday. Perhaps I could start off with two minutes every day for a month and then increase it slightly from there, depending on signs of fatigue and burn out. I could keep a log to chart the complete and utter lack of progress in my life or find a “do nowt” buddy on Facebook just to help me fall back irrevocably on my life goals. I could use visualisation techniques where I could “see” myself being totally unproductive. At the very least I should let friends and family know of my intentions to do sweet F.A. so that they could help me through the bad times when I find myself in desperation reaching for the hoover, give me a shoulder to cry on when I have the urge to finish “just that one little task” or just be there when I need someone to do nothing with me, too.
Now you may have an inkling of why my lists never get done.
Defeated by the realisation of the sheer effort it would take to do nothing I have had to designate yet another list to the back burner.
I now cannot use my cooker at all as the number of lists balanced upon its back burner constitute a fire hazard.
Which just proves that lists are dangerous and should be avoided at all costs, unless it is a shopping list, which can be quite useful.