Peter Akkies

Why I manage my to-dos

Published 27 days ago • 2 min read

It’s the easiest thing to forget yet perhaps the most important thing to remember:

Life is happening right here, right now!

I’ve always been very good at looking to the future. I save for retirement, I floss twice daily, I maintain my friendships, and so on. I’m very aware that I might live to be 80 or even older and some of my choices now will affect my happiness later in life. This is probably also why I am into “productivity” and “goal-setting”, those nebulous yet important concepts.

Maybe I’m even a little too good at looking to the future. (And maybe you are, too.) Sometimes I catch myself treating life like a rehearsal: if I just do this thing now and complete that task tomorrow, then by next month I will be in great shape. Of course, by next month I will have come up with a dozen other things that need to happen before I feel truly at ease.

It’s a game that never ends. It’s a game you can’t win.

As it turns out, this life is not a rehearsal. This is it! This is the time to be happy and to feel good, even if your inbox is nowhere near Zero, even if you feel wildly out of control, and even if you haven’t bought that vacation home by the lake. It’s true and it’s obvious but it’s very easy to forget.

What’s your to-do list for? What do you organize your projects and your documents and your notes for?

I do it out of habit, mostly, but the underlying reason is that being on top of that stuff helps me be in the moment slightly more often. Yes, yes, I sound like a mindfulness guru, but those gurus have a point. A good point. Where else are you going to live your life aside from right here, right now?

Not that you can ever be fully on top of your to-dos, by the way, no matter how well you manage them. We can feel a bit more in control, but the amount of control we have over what happens is rather limited. Mostly, things just happen to us. We exert just a little influence. It’s not a fun realization at first, but when you think about it for a while, it’s actually calming: we’re doing our best.

Sometimes it’s easy to be in the moment, like when you’re at a dinner with friends, having an absorbing conversation. I find myself very present in the moment when I’m skydiving and am about to jump out of the plane. But in the less glamorous parts of life—the parts that don’t get Instagrammed—like when you’re working at your desk, it’s harder to be in the moment. Yet it’s just as important.

You know, I mostly write these things to remind myself of what matters. It’s a nice technique, writing down what you need to hear. It’s also why gratitude journaling works—I’ve been writing down at least five things I’m grateful for every morning for a while now and it’s great to start the day in a positive way like that. Give it a go.

Thanks for reading and have a great rest of your Sunday!

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Peter Akkies

Productivity Teacher

Hi, I’m Peter from Amsterdam. I’ll help you get organized and be more productive. Every Sunday, I send a productivity-themed newsletter to 9,000 people. Join us!

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