STOP Trying To Finish The To-Do List

by Lisa Woodruff

Apr 5, 2019 | Episode 274 | 31:50

Last week, we talked about why it’s impossible to be behind when you’re organizing. We covered how organizing will always pay you in time and finished with a discussion about why you should aim for progress, not perfection.

Shifting your mindset to focus on progress rather than perfection takes practice. We become so obsessed with ticking off every task on our to-do lists that we lose sight of the progress we’ve made.

A few of you recently messaged me and asked me to talk about how you can change the way you structure and plan your time. It’s easy to let your to-do list control your time and how you spend it, which is only part of the reason why I think it is time to eliminate your to-do list.

Yes, you read that right.

Eliminate your to-do list.

Don’t re-prioritize it. Don’t take tasks off and move them onto next week’s to-do list. I want you to take your to-do list, hold it up and set a flame to it (you know, hypothetically).

You might not know this about me, but it’s been 18 months since I wrote out and completed my last to-do list. I just don’t need it anymore.

If you want to join me over here in the (almost) stress-free zone with more free time than you know what to do with and no to-do lists to worry about, this is the podcast episode you’ve been waiting for!

How I Got Rid of My To-Do List

There was a time in my life when I lived for my to-do list. Or rather, I lived through my to-do list. I would list everything I needed to get done that day and, like most of you, ticked them off one by one as I completed each task.

When a task was left unfinished, I carried it onto my to-do list for the next day. It helped me to get things done, most of the time. But I found myself constantly referring to my list throughout the day, so much so that it honestly felt like I couldn’t live without it.

To go from that level of dedication to a to-do list to not having one at all is quite the turnaround, don’t you think?

The funny thing is, I didn’t even realize I didn’t have a to-do list anymore until people started asking me for advice on what to do with theirs. As someone who had an answer for every question about organizing, I was stumped.

Then, of course, I had the "a-ha!" moment when I suddenly realized I was living my life without a to-do list. And, you know what? The world didn’t stop spinning. I didn’t lose focus, and my productivity levels were better than ever.

At some point over the last seven years, I went from being depressed, overweight and in debt to feeling much happier, thinner and debt-free. But it didn’t happen overnight. It took a lot of small steps, and one of those steps was ditching the to-do lists.

If you want to hear a more in-depth recollection about my journey, you can listen to Episode 261 of the podcast, My Personal 7 Year Transformation, to find out more.

Why You Should Ditch Your To-Do List

As you go from living a reactive life to a proactive life, you start to develop new habits. You start spending your time differently. And, you start to look at time differently.

When you’re in the habit of checking things off a to-do list, there isn’t enough time to stop. You’re so engrossed in the list that you don’t have time for anything else. Spending time with your family or reading that book you’ve had on your nightstand for the last two weeks takes a back seat.

A to-do list demands your time and attention. You get so caught up in it that you can’t even see the progress you’re making. Not to mention, you’re always adding new tasks to the list. Or worse than that, you’re adding the same daily chores to the list each day.

You spend so much time competing with yourself in an effort to check off the tasks on your list as fast as possible.

But, wouldn’t it be more beneficial to spend your time doing things that have a lasting impact?

Imagine how much time you’d save if you stopped doing the laundry or dusting every day. You could spend that hour each day working on organizing your storage room, for example. In a month, you could have the entire room organized and labeled.

We’re so used to adding tasks to our to-do list as a default mechanism. The problem is that as we tick off more boxes, we add more to the list and the cycle goes on forever.

You’re never going to get your to-do list done.

How to Eliminate Your To-Do List

The first step is to take your to-do list, break it down, and put it inside your Sunday Basket. If you’re new and you want to learn more about the Sunday Basket System, I have an entire podcast series dedicated to the Sunday Basket which you can listen to right here.

I don’t want you to just throw your to-do list in your Sunday Basket and be done with it. Instead, write your to-do’s and any ideas you have on individual index cards. Then, put those index cards in your Sunday Basket.

When Sunday comes around, it’s time to empty out your Sunday Basket. Everything that you’ve taken from your to-do list and transferred onto index cards has become an actionable item.

There’s just one rule for the Sunday Basket, but it’s an important one so listen up.

If it can wait until Sunday, it must wait until Sunday.

Why?

Because if you’re trying to do everything throughout the week, you won’t have time for anything and you’re just going to get burnt-out and overwhelmed.

On a Sunday, you’ll go through your index cards and pay your bills, do the laundry, and get all those routine tasks out of the way. Everything you need to do will be on index cards, and you won’t have to reassign them to a different day on your calendar.

If you don’t have time for a task or it can wait, slip it back into the basket for next Sunday. Everything that can wait until the following Sunday goes back inside the basket.

If you focus on getting your tasks done on a Sunday, you’ve got the rest of the week to spend how you like. Yes, you’ll still do the menial day-to-day tasks like washing the dishes and so on, but you’ll get those more important projects completed on Sunday.

I really hope that you try the Sunday Basket System for yourself (if you haven’t done so already) and I hope my advice has helped you to realize that you really don’t need a to-do list after all.

You can purchase the complete Sunday Basket Workshop or just the box in our Shop.

If you decide to get rid of your to-do list and replace it with the Sunday Basket instead, I’d love to know how it works for you! Follow me on Instagram and join the Facebook group for more great organizing tips, then share your photos and thoughts with me by tagging me @organize365 or using #organize365!

 

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