Looking at my to-do list, I feel overwhelmed by all the tasks I’ve set for myself. Lately I’ve had a few snow days where I’ve had fewer activities and fewer clients, so I’ve had a little more time on my hands. I decided to pull out my list and looked at what I could complete. Most of the things on my list are things I would like to get around to someday, but I just don’t feel motivated to do them or I simply don’t have the materials, the time, or the know-how. Needless to say, the list didn’t get much shorter – as usual, and I don’t feel any more accomplished.

That got me wondering how important the things on my list actually are. If I don’t actually want to do them and they really just sit on the list and never move off of it, why would I bother? I decided to prioritize which things actually needed to be done (fixing broken things I use regularly, medical care, anything involving a payment, returning important phone calls, etc.) and which didn’t (anything that was mostly a cosmetic change instead of a necessary one, things that were suggestions or ideas from websites or magazines designed to make my life easier but which I’ve never put into practice, anything requiring more money than I’m willing to spend). Most everything fell into the second category because I’ve already done the things that really needed my attention.

Of course, some things need to wait until a more opportune time and I simply didn’t want to forget them, such as planting seeds for starter plants for my garden or making a big purchase until the money is available for that. I’m not sure I’ll really forget to do them, but the act of writing them down helps me to remember.

One of the other things I noticed was how many tasks I’ve set myself to do because other people have suggested them and weren’t my idea in the first place. This is interesting mostly because I know from research and experience that people are not likely to do things that they aren’t invested in. If it wasn’t my idea, I’m not invested in it, so why is it on my list?!

My next step was to whittle down the list to the smallest possible number that felt comfortable to me. This was the difficult part. Everything felt necessary since I had taken the time to put it on the list in the first place. I had to keep asking myself if anyone would even notice if this did or did not happen. And mostly I found that it didn’t matter. I’m the only one keeping the list. I’m the only who knows what’s on it. I’m the only one who will know when it’s crossed off.

I have been hanging on to ideas of how my life should be or will be once I get through this list. The problem is, the list has no end, so I will always be looking for the next thing to add to, even before I finish the last one. So I also decided that if I had to move something from one list to the next, it didn’t really need to be done and should be dropped entirely.

I’m trying to translate this into new actions of not making so many lists and not setting myself up to do things I don’t actually have any desire to do. And I’m asking myself about how I can be happy with things as they are now without changing things that don’t need changing. I’m doing this both at home and at work. And, of course, I encourage you to do the same. It’s more difficult than it sounds. Do you have too much on your to-do list? What can you drop or simply not-do?

Work with one of our coaches to tame your list.