Do you ever feel like your to-do list grows, getting longer and longer but your tasks seem to be incomplete and unending? It could be that your to-do list is bringing you down. It might seem counterintuitive, but it seems like those check-lists of to-do’s actually impede our productivity, and are a poor reflection of the things we actually get done in our day. Here’s why:
- Open-ended and ongoing items never get checked off – some of the day’s work deals with ongoing tasks, and these don’t lend themselves nicely to a list.
- Things come up during the day– New developments or needs that require attention and energy might become more of a priority than what you previously wrote down, or even make what’s on your list irrelevant.
- You feel nagged– Instead of being motivating and inspiring, a huge list of everything you should do becomes a downer and might make your feel guilty for how you spent your day.
- Don’t “should” on yourself- There are some things we have to do, such as getting the kids to school on time, yet to-do lists seem to get filled with a bunch of “shoulds” that really might not be that important. Allowing yourself to be present to the day and prioritizing the important things you need to get done gives your more flexibility and less self-judgement.
So, let’s shift this habit and try something new: a DONE list. Write down everything that you accomplished, all your small wins and minor achievements. Then take a look at your day and give yourself a much-deserved pat on the back. A done list is a better reflection of your strengths, enhances a positive mindset and acknowledges the array of important things we do in our day. Spending time on yourself, being a good friend by calling someone who is struggling, vacuuming the bedrooms, a trip to the grocery store, paying a few bills to working a full day…all great things to be proud of.
If you are a person who needs gentle reminders, don’t fret. Lists help do keep us organized, but reframe it a bit. You could make a quick list of the most important things that you need to address, but keep in mind, that of the 10 habits of successful people, making a to-do list is not one of them.