WHY IS THE TO-DO LIST DESIGNED TO DESTROY US?
Let’s step back and look at what’s really happening when we work through a to-do list. First, the list is designed to be an endless, running list of tasks. Emphasis on endless. We seldom, if ever, complete all the items on our list on any given day. Finally, the list doesn’t take the “big picture” into consideration (our broader vision, long-term goals, etc.). All this is a foolproof recipe for anxiety. And when we’re anxious, we’re not able to bring our full productive selves to the task at hand. This inability to maximize productivity fuels negative self-talk, which only makes us feel more stressed—and the vicious cycle continues.
LET’S EXPLORE HOW THE TO-LIST IMPACTS OUR SENSE OF SELF-WORTH
Chances are, if you’re a human being in this society, your sense of self-worth is deeply entwined with your sense of productivity. Society reinforces a belief system that to “hustle,” to do more, is to be more successful, more capable, and more worthy. This is a TRAP, because the reality is there will always be “more” that you can accomplish. Meaning no matter how much you achieve in a single day, your to-do list will serve as a reminder that you have failed to “do it all.” When we get rid of the to-do list, we get rid of this toxic framework and free ourselves up to create a new measurement of productivity and success.
OKAY, I’M READY FOR A CHANGE. WHAT’S THE ALTERNATIVE?
It’s called scheduling. That’s right, we’re not reinventing the wheel here. Instead of thought-dumping our lives into an endless to-do list, we want to prioritize tasks and focus our energy strategically so that we can feel truly free to rest, play, exercise, socialize, and be well. When we take time to put our projects on a reasonable schedule, we create a digestible workflow that is balanced and, most importantly, achievable. We don’t have to worry about what we’ve missed, because we can confidently proceed into our week knowing that everything is accounted for.
THINK OF EACH WEEK HOLISTICALLY
It may take some time to make the shift, but try to think of the whole week holistically. Instead of thinking “how much can I fit in today,” alter your mindset to “how much can I achieve this week?” We all have “off” days where we’re not as productive. THIS IS NORMAL. When we try to persevere through discomfort or stress, we only increase our anxiety and diminish our ability to focus. Thinking about the week in a holistic space makes space for being human. It creates flexibility, which is a safety net for when things go slightly (or majorly) awry. When we take away the tunnel vision of seeing only the day in front of us, we realize the stakes are not always sky-high and that there is, absolutely, room for adjustment.