As a general rule, to do lists are not something that strike a spiritual chord in most people. Why would they? To do lists are normally full of items such as “make dentist appointment” and “clean the bathrooms.” Rarely are spiritually fulfilling items found on such lists. All that means, however, is that you are not utilizing the full potential of making a list. Lists can be forms of prayer, and with the right mindset, even something as mundane as a daily to do list can become a way of connecting with God and drawing closer to Christ. You simply have to change how you look at and make your to do list.
Find the good in each thing.To do lists often feel like nothing more than a frustrating accounting of all the drudgery that you have to get done each day. They are filled with things such as doing the dishes, preparing for a meeting, running errands and going to doctors’ appointments. They are not filled with fun things people look forward to doing with their time. That does not mean, however, that you cannot find the good in your to do list.
Your to do list can actually act as a blessing list if you look at it correctly. If your list says “clean the house,” that means that you have a roof over your head on a consistent basis. It also implies that you have a strong, healthy body that is capable of cleaning your home. If you have grocery shopping on your to do list, take a few moments to give thanks for the food you are going to eat, the fact that you have food to begin with and to pray for those who go hungry.
Reevaluate your priorities.If you are like most people, you have a never ending list of things that you need to do each day, but you struggle with the fact that there is never enough time in the day to get everything done. So, your to do list simply continues to grow every day. It can be enough to overwhelm someone.
Take a step back from your to do list and reevaluate your priorities. How many of those things do you actually need to do? Does it truly matter if you dust your baseboards? How important is it really that you reorganize the toolbox in the garage? If you sincerely consider it, there are likely a lot of things on your to do list that you do not actually care about getting done. You do them because you feel like you have to do them, but they do not matter to you much one way or another.
Once you have removed everything extraneous from your to do list, start adding in the things that truly matter. In order to be content and happy at the end of each day, what do you need to get done? This is not the time to add in chores such as doing the laundry or taking your car to get the oil changed. This is the time to add tasks that make your soul happy. Write down “call my sister,” “have coffee with a friend,” “spend special time with my spouse,” “go fishing” or “be early to prayer group instead of rushing in late and stressed.” Now, look at your new to do list. It should consist of those things that actually need to get done today and those that must get done for you to be happy.
It is very easy to get caught up in the minutia of day to day life and lose track of what really matters in life. Since so many people use their to do lists as an unofficial record of what their day will be like, it should always include time with friends or loved ones and time with God. If your list does not reflect that reality, it is a sign that you are likely straying from the life God wanted for you. Take a moment to say a prayer and then change your to do list to more truly reflect what you need for a healthy mind, body and soul.
Make it a prayer list.Once you have your priorities straightened out, your to do list will likely revolve around the people and causes that are most important to you. You need to grocery shop because you need to cook dinner for your children and spouse. You need to get your car fixed up because you volunteered to drive food over to a sick friend from church. You have to finish the paperwork for your passport so you can go on the mission trip in the summer. Write those to dos down as prayers. Instead of simply making a note of “go to passport office,” ask God to guide you on your mission trip and to protect all missionaries. The mention of the mission trip should remind you to finish the paperwork necessary for you to travel internationally, but you will have prayed twice for missionaries by writing down the prayer and reading it when you look back at your list.
To do lists do not have to be a record of the overwhelming amount of responsibilities you have to take care of each day. They do not have to make you miserable to look at or leave you feeling dejected because you did not complete them. With a little creativity, to do lists can become a way of reconnecting with God and reevaluating your priorities. They can help you draw closer to Christ, fit prayer in your busy life and ensure you focus on the ones you love. So, stop glaring down at that long list of unchecked boxes on your list and get out the white out. It is time to start your list anew.