Much To Do Lists About Nothing
I love to do lists. They help me relax. Dumping all my ideas onto a piece of paper gets me out of my head. It helps me let go mentally, and focus in the moment.
When I don’t write to do lists, I feel like a hamster on crack, unable to hop off its exercise wheel long enough to eat a tiny burrito.
The problem with to do lists
That said, since publishing Unexpected Texas, my to do list grew… and grew… and grew… In fact, it didn’t just grow, it became insanely bloated. And much to my chagrin, that angsty rodent feeling reared up again.
I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong!
Appeasing my crack hamster
I finally came across Marie Forleo’s interview with Arianna Huffington in which Huffington spoke about her new book Thrive. The book details how overworking caused her to pass out at her desk. Ironically, passing out was the wake up call Huffington needed to create a more balanced and healthy lifestyle.
For Huffington, an important step was giving herself permission to delete things from her to do list, specifically things that no longer served her life’s goals. Doing so, she claims, freed up a lot of mental energy.
For example, Huffington had always wanted to become a gourmet cook and speak German fluently. Letting go of those goals took a lot of pressure off and let her use that energy for other things.
Why the best To Do list is really a To Be list
As I mulled over Arianna Huffington’s ideas, it reminded me of all the landscaping tasks I had on my to do list, but never get around to actually doing. While I miss growing my own vegetables, I suddenly realized that at this point in my life it’s more important to focus on being a writer and all the tasks related to that, than on being a gardener.
Hence, my to do list epiphany: the best to do list, is also a to be list! If the tasks on your to do list don’t support who you want to be, then you’re bound to feel overwhelmed and conflicted.
With that in mind, I revamped my to do list and let go of all sorts of things (even certain writing projects) that don’t serve the goals for who I want to be right now.
Has it worked? Let’s just say that my inner hamster spends much of her time on a wee little hammock these days, sipping pina coladas, and munching tiny burritos.