Should We Ditch the To Do List?

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It comes to the question, are to do lists harming you more than helping you?

I'm someone who loves making lists. Lists of tasks I need to, lists of things I feel like I should do, lists of things I want to buy etc. But recently I've been coming to the realisation that maybe rather than assisting me and making me achieve a bunch of tasks, making lists is actually harming my wellbeing. 

On a typical day, I will have a list of things I need to do and things I feel like I should do as I feel that 1. I will forget them if I don't write them down and 2. If I don't have a list to hold me accountable, I will not do anything. 

Years of depression and low mood have left me with the experience of feeling like I will tend to be unmotivated and feel like I 'can't be bothered' to do things. Even with my chronic health symptoms, I have still struggled with this feeling that I need to achieve something, anything with my day. 

But here's the thing: life isn't made up of who achieves a bunch of tasks and people who do nothing. That is not how life works. Life is made up of accumulated experiences and feelings: feelings of happiness, serenity, love and adventure, along with the more negative emotions that everyone experiences. Life is about living in the moment, you don't have to feel happy all the time, or relaxed all the time. What matters is that you don't waste your time reproaching yourself for activities you feel you need to do to live a good life day to day, or worrying about what tasks you feel need to be accomplished the next day, the next week, the next year.

What we need to do is focus on each task we're doing and nothing else. A harsh thought comes into your head? Swat it away. A task to do? You'll remember it later, don't worry. Right now is the time to focus on one thing, not several. Anything else you can do later. The more you focus on 'to do lists', the worse you may feel. 

Live in the moment. All those things you feel like you need to do right now? No. Unless it is something urgent, swat it away. Those things will come later; They are not for you to think about now. Focus on one task and one task only. 

Don't feel like doing anything? No problem, that's totally ok. Put the TV on, scroll on your phone, do whatever you feel like but whilst you are doing that, do not think of other things. That is for another time. 

Not now. Be present. 

Swat those thoughts away and focus on what you are doing. If you find it interesting or helpful then you go. 

Do just one thing. Focus your mind on just one thing. Do not worry. There is nothing else you need to worry about right now. Do not waste your today thinking about things you can do tomorrow or some other day. 

For me, I'm coming to terms with the fact that it might be time to ditch the to do list. How about you?


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