zen habits : breathe

How Not to Do It All

By Leo Babauta

We all want to do so much: take on every request that people email us, complete our neverending list of tasks and projects, help everyone, travel everywhere, learn a ton of new skills, read every book and watch every good film, be the perfect partner and parent and friend …

And yet, we can’t possibly do it all.

There isn’t enough time in the day, nor do we have the attention bandwidth to devote to everything. Even if we were perfectly disciplined, we couldn’t possibly get to even half of what we want to do. Just as with eating, where our eyes are bigger than our stomachs … our hopes are bigger than our actual bandwidths.

So I say, give up on trying to do it all. Simplify. Don’t try to be perfect. Don’t try to have the most perfect life you can create.

Instead, make your days count.

How do you do that? Here are some ideas:

I realize that some of the things on this list seem contradictory. And they are. That’s because these ideas are meant to remind us to be mindful of what we’re holding on to, and practice letting go.

Each idea can be practiced at different times, and we’ll see that we’ve been holding onto something: our distractions, our ideas of perfection, our desire to be more, our desire to say yes to everyone, our hope that we’ll get to the end of our task list or email inbox, our desire for control or simplicity or doing everything. None of these things is essential to life — they can all be let go of, and we can accept the reality that is exposed when we let go.

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