A to-do list might help but so does a not-to-do list

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to-do list, blank page numbered to four

Years ago, a group of moms I know were all reading the same book and asked me to join them. I did, for a time, until I just couldn’t. I’m all for organizing your life in whatever way you need to do so to have peace of mind. The problem with the book was that I have never been a type A person. The things that were apparently helpful to the other moms were making me feel stressed and borderline crazy. The author of the book had sticky notes all over her house and every single moment of her life was scheduled. I mean EVERY. SINGLE. MOMENT. The woman’s to-do list extended into the next decade. I kid you not.

She scheduled time to eat, time to go outside, time to wipe her counters, time to have casual conversation with her family. Some people function well by keeping a daily planner or to-do list. I’m more the type who jots a quick list down when I know I’ll forget something important. I’m definitely not the “Oh-it-is-July-22-which-means-we-wash-our-windowblinds” type of person. If that’s you, more power to ya’ — I judge not. It’s just definitely not me. I happen to think many moms would benefit from a not-to-do list.

Mine might look like this

When I was active in the online speaking circuit, I often reminded busy moms that their planners were tools. A common problem I noticed is that well-meaning people become enslaved by their planners and feel like failures when they don’t get every item on a to-do list checked off. If that sounds familiar to you, you might benefit from a not-to-do list. Here’s a sample of what that might look like if I were writing one today:

  • I will not feel responsible for another person’s choices or decisions in life over which I have no control.
  • I will also not let another person’s negativity bring me down.
  • Today, I won’t worry about laundry because we will be on the road a lot.
  • I’m not going to say “yes” to everything I’m asked to do if I feel overwhelmed or would be better off saying “no” to something.
  • I won’t let the day pass without taking 10 or 15 minutes to pray and enjoy some peace and quiet.
  • I’m not going to let other people’s opinions or comments keep me from being who I’m called to be.

What would your not-to-do list look like if you were to write one at this moment? So many busy moms are suffering from depression or stress-related illnesses. We need to stop comparing ourselves to others. In your effort to encourage, inspire and support other women are you being just as gentle with yourself as you walk the path of your own, unique journey?

A to-do list is fine if it works for you

You need to do what you need to do to help you be the person you’re called to be. If that includes writing a to-do list every day, go for it! I’m not anti-to-do-list. I merely feel compelled to ask this question: Is your list helping you achieve your goals or making you feel bad about yourself? If you answered the latter, then why do you keep making those lists? Why not try writing a not-to-do list instead and see how it goes?



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