How to freelance

To do or to be, that is the real question

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iStock_000001311167XSmall-w120-h180 Like most writers and entrepreneurs, I have a bulging to-do list. It’s like a bottomless cup of coffee; it stimulates, comforts and raises blood pressure all at once.

My to-do list runs my life. I manage it on Outlook and via my iPhone with TaskTask. It is the epitome of the “do something” approach to life.

I remember reading Getting Things Done and thinking ‘this is all obvious’ because I was already doing most of the things. (I am quite envious of David Allen’s ability to erect a few simple, useful ideas into a book, a system and a thriving business.)

Today, I read Leo Babauta’s post Kill your to-do list. He advocates a one thing a day system. “I wake up in the morning, and decide what One Thing I’m excited about. Then I focus on doing that, pushing everything else aside, clearing distractions, and allowing myself to get caught up in the moment.”

It’s a nice idea. A bit of a dream, really. It is the complete opposite of my way of working. It’s about being rather than doing and it has an attractive Zen in-the-moment flavour to it.

But it’s also impractical. My clients wouldn’t thank me if I missed my deadlines because I decided to do somebody else’s work first. To-do lists help me prioritise, schedule and filter. It’s good to concentrate on one thing at a time but it’s also essential to pick the right thing.

But it did make me ask if my to-do list was too much at the mercy of other people. Things other people want me to do rather than things I want to do. Things I am excited about. It’s got me thinking and I’d really like to get some feedback from other people?

So, dear reader, how do you manage your life? Is it to do or to be? How do you balance your passions with your duties? What tools do you use? Do you have a ‘system’, like GTD? Is it useful? Please leave a comment here or on Twitter.

Matthew Stibbe

Matthew is founder and CEO of Articulate Marketing.