The secrets of “Tilak”​ and the art of getting the most important things done

The Curse of the task lists

How many of you keep a task list?
How many of you miss tasks or keep getting lost in the task list?
For how many does it keep getting bigger, and fatter?

Whenever I ask this, almost everyone says an emphatic ‘I’

Here is the thing:
Checklists are the least efficient way of getting things done because very soon the important checklists become laundry lists. After all, we keep adding tasks to it.
Do you know the optimum number of tasks you should have on a daily task list? It is 3

Why 3 is important

You open your to-do list, and you find at least 30+ tasks. You don’t know what to do next, and you go through each of them without deliberation.

By the end of the day, you realize that you haven’t accomplished much; you feel tired and disappointed.

Josh Kaufman, the best-selling author on productivity gave the concept of MITs (ie most important tasks). Not all tasks are created equal — some are more important than others. Picking only three tasks means that you’ll have to let go of things that aren’t as important and focus on what are.

And we all have read and sort of agree that doing the most important 3 tasks is enough to have a productive day.

The Problem of Restriction

But you know the problem is how do we restrict the task list to 3? I tried a lot of ways to restrict the list but mostly I was unsuccessful.

One day I was reminded of Parkinson’s Law. It states that the work expands to fill the time available for its completion. I thought that maybe this is true for a list too, I have an A4 page, a diary, where I can keep adding. What if I had only enough space for 3 lines?

What canvas can I use that can take only three line items and can also keep reminding me of what I need to accomplish today?

With these questions, I started doing research and moved in the direction of spirituality to find some answers. And I found something very unassuming but powerful tool called Tilak.

The Concept of Tilak

Lets us first try to understand a little bit about Tilak

Types of Tilak

There are three types of Tilak

Simple Tilak

A simple Tilak is honorary in nature, just a mark of respect, and also used to welcome people. Mostly someone else puts this Tilak on us.

There are two other types of Tilak, that are spiritual in nature. And we put them on our forehead.

One is called Urdhva Pundra, and the other one is Tripundra

Urdhva Pundra

Urdhva Pundra is associated with Vishnu and shows that material growth in life is important but not without spiritual anchors. Usually, the U represents the spiritual anchors, and the line or dot in between denotes the material growth.


Tripundra is associated with Shiva. Tripundra means “Tri” = Three and “Pundra” = White Lotus. White lotus in Hinduism represents awareness and hence Tripundra means “Awareness of the 3”

Importance of Tripundra

If you go a little deeper into it, you will see that Tripundra represent all the things that Shiva is They represent Shiva’s all-pervading nature,

  • Triguna Swami — Rajas (Passion), Tamas (Ignorance), and Sattva(Goodness)
  • Trikala Darshi ( who knows past, present, and future ).
  • Tri Vedi (Three Vedas)
  • Trilok Dev (Upper, Middle, Bottom)
  • Three Aspects (Satyam, Shivam, Sundaram)

But above all, the most important meaning of those three lines for Shiva is the tasks that he has to do. Creation, Preservation & Dissolution

He has been doing this for eternity without failing.

I thought that maybe this Tripundra can be my task list too

Changes in my life

So with this new way of looking at Tripundra, I started drawing three invisible lines on my forehead every morning as soon as I looked into the mirror after waking up. Each line meant a specific task for that day and I have been doing this for over a year now.

This has brought in a lot of changes in the way I can get my MITs of each day done and keep moving forward.

  • Balance the burnout.
  • Instead of just doing stuff, I started accomplishing the most important stuff
  • I started focusing on action instead of spending time on heavy planning.
  • And one very surprising thing happened. Slowly I started getting a lot of clarity in my thoughts

The importance of Ajna chakra

I again started searching for more meaning in this process and I stumbled upon the reason why just the action of applying tilak was getting more done for me.

This place where we apply tilak has “Ajna Chakra”. There are seven chakras or energy centers in our body.

Ajna means command. This is the place of inspiration, imagination, intuition, and insights. And just a simple act of rolling your fingers over your forehead stimulates this energy center and creates balance. This leads to clarity of thoughts


  • Tripundra is the Wifi to stay connected with your MITs tasks
  • Works as a reminder throughout the day
  • Improves the clarity of thoughts

What are your thoughts on this article? Share in the comments below.

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तमसो मा ज्योतिर्गमय:

Mayur Pathak

Published by
Mayur Pathak

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