Saturday, 16 February 2019

How to make to-do lists pleasurable

How easy is it for you to include pleasurable activities in your day? I’ve noticed I tend to deprive myself of pleasurable activities as work and other commitments typically fill every waking hour. There is generally not enough time in the day!

And I’ve heard others around me complain about how they, too, rarely get round to recreational or fun activities, which deep down they crave. What about activities that are, by definition, pleasurable? What about socialising or outdoor pursuits? What is a good use of time?

How easy is it for you to include pleasurable activities in your day?

If you follow this blog, you’ll perhaps remember my article about the minimal to-do list. It involves setting 3 main tasks per day, which are important, easy to remember, and above all achievable.

I love my minimal to-do list; however, I’ve noticed my 3 daily tasks usually are tedious, difficult or downright tiring. Don’t get me wrong: the purpose of a to-do list obviously is to get tedious tasks done. And work can be pleasurable, too. But at the end of the day, it still is what it is: work.

All work and no play, after all, is not good for us, so I’ve started tweaking my minimal to-do list a little:
I occasionally include a pleasurable activity in my to-do list. It’s a time management approach designed to bring about greater purpose. It works for me, so it might work for you, too.

This is less ridiculous than it initially sounds: on some days I explicitly include a pleasurable activity in my to-do list, such as meeting up with a friend at the café; going out on a nice, long run; or treating myself to a full-body massage.

While I would have done these things in the past, I now savour and appreciate such activities even more. It is, frankly, the best way to get my priorities right. By adapting your to-do list a little, you can reap amazing benefits!

Tweaking my minimal to-do list in this unusual way has made it easy for me to find the balance between the mountain of work commitments, the engagement in relationships, and the pursuit of pleasure. All three should have a role to play in our lives.

(I've translated this blog article into German and published the German translation here.)