I listened to an interview with Ariana Huffington recently where she shared what I consider to be a wonderful piece of insight. Ariana is an author, syndicated columnist and businesswoman. She was the co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post, now owned by AOL. She has accomplished a lot.
In the interview, Ariana talked about her life’s to do list—her bucket list.
On her list were the following three items:
- Be an excellent downhill skier
- Learn to cook
- Master German
These items had been on her list for some time. But, she knew that she would never get to them.
And yet, they remained on the list.
A constant reminder that she had not checked them off yet.
One day she realized that she could complete those three tasks on her list by simply dropping them from the list and deciding not to do them.
And just like that in one afternoon she completed those three tasks.
Who knew you could complete a task by simply choosing not to do it!
If you are feeling the stress and pressure of too many things to do and not enough time to do it all, what if instead of trying to figure out how to get it all done, you focused on what you were not going to do?
Sometimes you forget that you can choose not to do something.
As a teacher of the Alexander Technique I am constantly teaching people that to make positive change in their lives, they can focus on not doing sometimes.
Instead of doing.
This is a complete turnaround for a lot of us.
Focus on what not to do?
Not what to do?
Well, I am here to remind you that you can choose not to do something.
So, if you are the person I described above with too much to do and not enough time to get it done, I will propose a little experiment for you.
- Make a to do list for the next week
- Write absolutely everything down that you think must get done, needs to get done and you want to get done
- Start each day for the next 7 days by completing one task on the list by deciding you are not going to do it
I have found that some wonderful things can happen if I remember and give myself permission not to do.
I love to send and receive holiday cards. In the mail. No e-cards for me. Even though I get fewer and fewer holiday cards in the mail each year, it is important for me to send mine out and connect with my friends and relatives in this old-fashioned way.
Last year I was feeling the extra stress of the holiday season, when my to do list seems to get unreasonably long. It was getting closer and closer to Christmas and I had not done anything about my holiday cards. So, I decided not to send them out last year.
I enjoyed the holiday season, went out of town for a week and celebrated New Year’s in sunny California.
Then, midway through January I had the bright idea that I could instead send out Valentine’s Day cards.
And I did.
I was much more relaxed in February. The Holiday Go-Go-Go was behind me. I like Valentine’s Day. An added plus was that many people expressed appreciation at receiving the card unexpectedly in the mail.
I enjoyed doing it. It wasn’t an added stress. I might just do it again.
Or then again, I might not.