Why To Do Lists Are a Trap

To do lists. We all make them. Sometimes you have a long list of things you need to get done in your head and it just feels so much better to write them down. But if you’re like me, you do this weird thing next. You end up making your list longer than the original one in your head. You may add a few other things you think of that should get done, but won’t necessarily happen by the end of the day. You may also add a few things that you’ve already accomplished to make yourself feel good. I know I do.

It wasn’t until recently that I noticed something that always happens when I make these types of to do lists. I’ve been doing this for years and didn’t realize the self sabotage that was happening until now. You see, when I make to do lists like this…

I never complete the whole list.

Can anyone else relate? You accomplish most of the things, but there’s always a few things left that you transfer to your next list. Which in turn results in a constant to do list that never gets finished. So every time you check things off and realize you won’t be able to complete the whole thing, you’re left feeling unaccomplished rather than satisfied with all the work you’ve done.

Isn’t this the exact opposite of what a to do list should do for you? You would think it would make you feel accomplished, productive, and more.

Before leaving for Thailand, I had very little time at home due to my grandmother passing away and some other summer trips I had already planned. Instead of making a very specific and long to do list, I simply wrote down the few things I actually needed to get done before I left. Things like: finding a travel pack, getting my immunizations, and putting away all our camping supplies that were currently drying in our yard.

Of course there are plenty of other things I would have like to accomplish during that time, but I had to prioritize. It was unrealistic to think I would tackle painting the bathroom before I left or going through my clothes to find ones to sell or donate. These things will get done with time, but I didn’t need to set an unrealistic goal for myself. This would just leave me stressed and feeling down on myself.

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

Making a list of things I actually had to get done, and only those things, was so powerful. I didn’t have a deadline on most of the things, but would just complete them when I had time. I did what made sense with my schedule. It wasn’t stressful. It was empowering. In fact, I ended up getting more done than I had originally planned. I left my house clean and got a lot done on my blog.

So, next time you’re making that to do list, consider being honest with yourself. Don’t set expectations too high. Be realistic. And in turn, you might accomplish much more than you thought possible.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s