To Stop Doing List at Our Little House

When I read the USA Weekend article about making a “To-Stop-Doing-List,” I thought about my post last week and my inability to make traction on my own to-do list.

The article, which quoted Chris Guillebeau, author of The Art of Non-Conformity, suggested that the list would help people eliminate the things in our lives that prevent us from doing what we wanted in our lives.

Our lives thus far haven’t been cast in the mold of cookie cutter conventionality. We made the conscious choice not to have biological children, I walked away from corporate America, we never upsized our house, but downsized and Dale took a giant leap leaving a job he held for a quarter of a century to make that move.

So, why am I routinely frustrated that I cannot get to the things that would really make me happy on that to-do list such as going back to yoga, getting farther on my reading list and getting back to daily walks with the dogs?

I came to the realization that it’s my own fault, really. It’s the things on the to-do list that I “have” to do that I’ve allowed to get in the way.

This week, I decided to take a new approach. I didn’t make a “To-Stop-Doing-List,” because I really don’t have things on my list that can not be done at some point. I just simply moved a couple of the things I would enjoy doing to the top.

The weather has been beautiful this week and instead of looking out wishing I could be in the sunshine instead of working, I’ve left my desk more than once to take the little dogs, Molly and Dakota out and enjoy the sun and blowing leaves. In addition, I’ve made time for those walks with all five of our four-legged family.

I’ve moved my work schedule around and have still been able to enjoy the things I like to do. The result hasn’t been that I didn’t get my work done, but quite the opposite. I’ve been more productive this week, proving that doing things I like to do, makes me more willing to accomplish those tasks that I have to do, such as working.

Yesterday, I found out about a concert at a small local venue featuring an Eagles tribute band. One of my favorite activities back in the day was going to concerts – and we did see the Eagles in 1994 during their reunion tour for something like $90 each –I immediately wanted to go to this one.

This one was substantially more affordable for our new downsized lifestyle. Still, I clicked on the website, started to purchase the tickets, hesitated, logged off.

Should we spend the money? Could Dale leave work early enough?

I thought about my new to-do list.

I went back to the website. I called our neighbors to see if they wanted to go. They do. I bought the tickets and called Dale. He came up with the same objections. “There’s more to life than work,” I told him.

Saving money is important and so is work, but enjoying life to the fullest is what has motivated our unconventional lives to this point. Why stop now?

What can you move to the top of your to-do list that can be accomplished and would make you really happy?

I would also like to thank all of my readers who are veterans for their service and to the families who supported them during their service, you deserve a big thank you as well. Veteran’s Day kat Our Little House has special meaning for me. Go to my post about my brother I wrote last year to learn why.

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16 Responses

  1. Judy says:

    I’m about 75% finished building a tiny house for myself and about three months ago I was making another list. As the “architect”, day laborer, and go-for my lists are not sequential to the construction at a given moment. In a great A-ha! moment, I changed the title of my list to Cricket Cottage Progress List. When the construction is finished I’m thinking about renaming my To Do list to something like Moving Life Forward.

  2. Alexandra says:

    This response does not really answer your question but is related. We have some nice silver that my husband brought back from Sweden. It was his mother’s. We were saving it for … for .. for, what? We hardly ever receive dinner guests anymore. Sven’s kids are in Sweden, so I doubt they will inherit it. So, we decided to treat ourselves and stashed the cheap forks. Now we dine in style every night. I mean, why wait? I agree with you. Glad you and Dale decided to go to the concert.

    • kerri says:

      I think that’s a great idea, Alexandra. So many of us put things away for “some day” that never comes. You’ve prompted me to revisit the use of my mother’s good china, which I love. However, in such a tiny house, we’ll never have the large holiday dinners she reserved the good stuff for. Why not use it now?

      • Olivia says:

        I embrace this idea as well. I have a neighbour who grew up quite poor and, when her mother died, she inherited the “good china” that she now uses all the time – even -or especially – when the grandkids visit. Also the good linen. If something breaks or gets spilled she does not worry as she says that her Mum never enjoyed the china – it was always boxed up and saved for a special occasion that rarely – if ever – came.

        So I too now use the “good stuff.” After all, if I don’t use it, my kids will likely just sell or donate it after I am gone.

        • kerri says:

          I’ve come to realize that there’s no fun in it if you can’t use it. I had two bowls that were my grandmother’s, very old. We always used them for everyday when I was growing up and they survived all this time. When we moved to Our Little House, one fell on the floor and broke. I told Dale they were my grandmother’s so it did make me a little sad. He said, “Maybe we should put the other one away.” Nope. She used them, my mother used them and now the lone survivor brings a smile to my face when I use it. No need to put it away so my heirs can just sell it to a thrift shop when I’m gone.

  3. Kathleen Winn says:

    Moving to the country has made it easier for me to fit the things I WANT to do in with the things I NEED to do. I recently returned from a two week stay in Texas, so came home to a “to do” list a mile long. However, I make sure that along with all of the “have to’s” I still allow time for appreciating the beauty of autumn leaves, the smell of brisk fall breezes, the pleasure of walking with the dog through fields of gold. A stroll in the country is now a matter of just stepping outside our house. It’s amazing to me how just a few minutes in the outdoors refreshes and rejuvenates me and allows me to return to my “have to’s” with a renewed focus. Setting goals and making commitments is a good way to accomplish things, but it’s also important to leave time for quiet walks through the woods or sitting and reading a good book or doing any of the other things that enrich our lives and replenish our energy reserves.

    • kerri says:

      I agree, Kathleen! Welcome back to our Living Large community! I also share your thoughts about being outside. I can be in the midst of the biggest writer’s block and go out and walk and come back into a settled and creative mind.

  4. Heather says:

    I really love the idea of a list of what not to do. Just not sure what I would put on it. As I get older, I just automatically dispense with the things I don’t want to do. It really does get easier.

  5. You know, I had to do this yesterday because there were a couple of things that were on the bottom of my list every day … and they NEVER got done … for weeks and weeks.

    So, even though, there were more pressing things that I “should” have done … I took the morning to do those poor languishing tasks.

    Most days (as weather allows), I try to walk Lilly as my first to-do. Yesterday, we had to wait for lunchtime and temps to get above freezing, but I do try to fit that in as much as I can.

    I’ve also started knitting again in the evenings (secret santa gift in the making), and I’m trying to read (even just a few pages) before bedtime … because I’ve read very few books this year.

    We’ll see how long I can stick to it. :o)

    • kerri says:

      Good for you, Roxanne! And I bet you felt better for getting those things done, too! I really have to get back to my reading. I’m coming no where near my goal again this year.

  6. Olivia says:

    Interesting question.

    Some of the things I think I would like to do – or get back to doing – are old desires, maybe things I used to enjoy or wish I had done at some time but when I really think about doing them I realise that I really don’t want to do them any more – or am, perhaps, too old to be able to physically manage them.

    However, one thing I DO want to do is spend more time with friends. For years DH worked in the television industry and the hours were so long and so unpredicatble that we didn’t have much of a social life as a couple. Now that he is semi-retired I have made this an important activity. This Saturday it is our turn to host a party with two other couples – we all take turns doing this, it is fun and our friendship goes back over 30 years. Yesterday, DH’s boss phoned at the last minute and asked him to work Friday and Saturday but I put my foot down. (The job is only freelance and we don’t need the money.) Friday is fine but Saturday is out. Luckily, DH agreed.

    At this stage in our lives, family and friends come first. Too much of our lives was given over to work and we suffered as a result.

    • kerri says:

      That’s a great plan, Olivia. I think a lot of things suffer in our lives when we have to concentrate on work.

  7. Kristi says:

    I love this thought. But I need time to think. I did make my New Year’s Resolution a few years ago to more actively support things I believe. And adversely to quit going through the motions for things I no longer support but feel obligated to do. It is good to live life intentionally.