For YEARS my to-do list has been my Everest. I just cannot let it go.
I have read productivity books like Getting Things Done by David Allen and Time Management from the Inside Out by Julie Morgenstern, and experimented with all different kinds of planners from Franklin Covey to The Hipster.
So far, I have come very close to my vision of getting this thing cleared off by the end of the day, or at the latest, the end of the week. I know it is possible, no matter what anyone says. Which is always some version of that doesn’t sound very realistic whenever I tell people about my dream of a beautiful, emptied to-do list on a regular basis.
I know there will always be things to do. That isn’t my problem. My point is having a list that doesn’t contain things that were due yesterday, or from 2 months ago.
I want to wake up in the morning, knowing that I will have the time I need to do all the things I want to do that day, AND get done whatever else needs to get done. Not working until 7 p.m., not skipping out on my walk because I’m too busy. Not sleeping less than 7 hours (I realize whenever I have a baby that last one might be negotiable, but you get the point).
My To-Do List Is Cluttering My Life
It dawned on my yesterday that my to-do list of unfinished, overdue tasks is creating clutter in my life. Not only is having this list of unfinished stuff like having junk piles all over my house, but by taking up time that I could spend dealing with physical clutter, it is literally contributing to the clutter in my life and my days.
This is actually good news for me. By seeing this massive pile of time-sucking activities (not to be overly dramatic or anything) as simply a pile of clutter to be dealt with rather than an overwhelming and intimidating catalog of things I don’t want to do, it becomes much more manageable in my mind.
Like a messy garage that just needs a good tidying, or a closet that hasn’t been cleaned out in a long time. Seeing my tasks as if they are more finite objects than the nebulous lingering-on-forever issues that I allow them to fester as on my list makes me feel more in control of them rather than the other way around.
Time to De-Clutter
I have allowed my to-do list to manage me for probably as long as I have been making to-do lists. It’s time for me to take back control of this thing that is merely a pile of junk waiting to be dealt with. It is not bigger than me.
I loved reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo and have been applying the KonMari Method throughout our house over the past few months. I completely agree with her about the idea of getting your house tidy once and for all.
A few areas that I felt were missing from the book were the tidying of digital files and also to-do lists. I realize to-do lists are outside of the scope of her book on organizing physical things, but I feel that my to-do list is as much a room that needs serious attention and tidying as the garage or linen closet.
In the spirit of life-changing magic, I set out again to de-clutter this list of stuff. I can’t wait until that beautiful day that my to-do list is a catalog of all the things I actually want to spend my time on, as Brendon Burchard points to in The Motivation Manifesto.
I’m pretty sure our purpose in life has nothing to do with feeling overwhelmed. I also know that I put way too much time and effort into things that aren’t in sync with my purpose. As I continue to whittle down my list today, I remind myself that there is a greater purpose than each piece of clutter I deal with that my mind is prone to blow out of proportion, and that my goal is to de-clutter swiftly, making time for more things that matter.
How do you cope with your to-do list? Please share your thoughts!