Beliefnet
Doing Life Together

to-do-list-749304_1280Do you have a To Do list? Does it make you anxious or feel guilty? Does it seem that you will never get it done?

If so, you are thinking about your To Do list in the wrong way. A To Do list should not be used as a way to measure your success or failure.

It shouldn’t be a club that you beat yourself up over because you didn’t finish the list. Yet, so many people make their lists and then  feel guilty that they don’t accomplish the list.
Instead, think of the list differently. A To Do list is a reminder list. The purpose is to lose the guilt–to use the list as a way to remember tasks and what needs to be done. Writing it down should take the item off your mind so that you don’t forget. This is supposed to lessen anxiety.

Then, take a red pen or marker and mark through those items on the list that you do manage to accomplish. Focus on what you have accomplished versus what is left on the list. A red lined item is a success!

Sometimes it helps to put a time frame on the items remaining on the list, but if you do this, you have to be realistic–can you accomplish those items during that time? Guilt often comes from unrealistic expectations and trying to accomplish too much in too short a time.

The idea behind a time frame is to set priorities. So another approach is to number the items in order of importance. Some people like to do the easy things first. This provides a sense of accomplishment and motivation to complete the list. For others, tackling the hardest part of the list first provides that feeling of “I can do this!”

Whichever approach works for you, how you think about the list will make or break your guilt. The To Do list is there to remind, not condemn you. It’s a time management tool, not a grade as to your worth or success in life. Change your mindset towards the To Do list and you will lose the guilt.

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