Rethinking Your To-Do List

Back in April, I was doing my morning post for the facebook page and this really intriguing post popped up in my newsfeed.  It was a mom posting her daughter’s to-do list.  As I understand, mom was creating her to-do list so she didn’t forget anything and like most kids tend to do, her daughter wanted to follow suit.  Monkey see, monkey do!  The little girl wrote out her to-do list right alongside her mom, and when mom took a look, I can only imagine she probably giggled.  Then the moment sets in that you realize how far we have been removed from living life.

I didn’t get to see mom’s to-do list, but I can imagine it had the typical items that most would have: laundry, grocery items, send an email, make sure to return a phone call, pay a bill, etc..  The daughter’s to-do list was priceless:

  1. Pet the puppy 1 time
  2. Teach the puppy how to be a ballerina
  3. Kiss daddy
  4. Paint a picture
  5. Learn how to say “Hi, you want some food?” in Spanish

The things this little girl saw to be important enough not to forget were showing affection, giving love, expressing herself, learning new things, and spreading her knowledge by teaching it to others. Her parents are doing an amazing job instilling what’s important in life!

This is a to-do list from someone who is virtually free of responsibility, so it is a stark contrast to the to-do list of someone with major responsibilities, like a parent.  However, it begs the question:  What is important to me?  What things do I and should I spend my time doing?  Is my to-do list so long that I don’t have time to enjoy life?  When’s the last time I created something just for fun?  When’s the last time I learned something new?  Am I in control of my life?

If these questions start to make you feel sad, then it may mean its time to decrease responsibility.  Decreasing responsibility will decrease the to-do list of things you don’t necessarily enjoy.  Does that mean quitting your job?  Not necessarily, but it may mean structuring boundaries, changing jobs, or being more mindful of how it enters your life outside of work.  Does that mean quit being on the PTO? Not necessarily, but that may mean if you enjoy and want to be on the PTO, maybe you AREN’T also team mom.  Does that mean you don’t have to do laundry ever again?!  No, but maybe that means it can wait.  Does that mean no more cleaning?!  No, but that may mean maybe you can decrease the amount of “stuff” you have, so your life is less consumed with clutter, objects, mindless organizing, cleaning, and hauling around.

Your time is valuable.  You should be able to enjoy some of it without that enjoyment being the pencil line through a requirement on the to-do list.  If your life is so full of responsibility that you have to keep extensive lists to keep track of it all, then maybe you can consider ways to simply life.  If you wish your to-do list had a lot more kissing, learning,  creating, and teaching, then make it happen.  One day, you will no longer have time to make those things reality.  That’s just a fact of life.  However, you do have that moment right now to choose what you want to fill your time with, and making that decision is a tough thing in a society that tricks you into believing you have to have it all, do it all, and take care of it all.  Truth bomb: You don’t.  It doesn’t take much to live, you choose the things you want to be involved with, and only you tell yourself your house isn’t clean enough.

If I could share every story of patients that changed their life circumstances around jobs, duties, extra-curriculars, and financial responsibilities in order to decrease stress, increasing living, and rescue their health, I may start to sound like a psychiatrist.  Changing these things IS POSSIBLE.  It matters.  It doesn’t mean you’re lazy or unsuccessful.  It means you’ve redefined what matters to you and dispersed your time accordingly.  End of story.

Thank  you to the mom that let me share such amazing insight from her beautiful little girl.

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