I am not my to-do list

My to-do list has a dark side. There are days when my to-do list glares at me while I sip a second cup of coffee or whispers words of condemnation when I lay down for a nap. My to-do list can be harsh and judgmental. I can’t believe I’m going to tell you this—but my to-do list actually called me a worthless failure the other day. Unbelievable, right?!

Who gave my to-do list that kind of power? Well, I guess I did.

Every morning, for as long as I can remember, I wake up and start making a to-do list. Some items are small, like ‘wash dishes’ or ‘schedule doctor visit’. Other items are bigger such as ‘go through the boys’ clothing’ or ‘plan marketing presentation’. I love seeing check marks next to each item on my to-do list. Ah, isn’t that the best feeling? It makes me feel like a superhero!

I’m probably not the only one who feels like there aren’t enough hours in a day. I hop out of bed and hit the ground running. Between emails, dishes, meetings, grocery shopping and signing permission slips I barely have time to gather my thoughts. The day rushes by—and I know by evening I’ll hit a wall of exhaustion. We’ll have dinner, cuddle on the couch while watching Netflix, then fall into bed. The next day it starts all over again.

But recently I’ve been rethinking my to-do list. I give it too much power–way too much power. I’ve been letting my to-do list determine my self-worth. If I accomplish a lot, I’m a wonderful person. On an unproductive day, I’m a waste of space. Both of those statements are lies. I am me, just me—creative, kind, imperfect, unique and amazing. I actually need downtime. I thrive when I have space to do nothing. Making time to clear my head and think brings new ideas and clarity. Rushing isn’t effective—in fact, it makes things worse. And when I’m tired I’m such a grump. My meltdowns are not fun to watch.

I’ve been experimenting with a different approach. I still use a to-do list but there’s a lot less on it. I’m learning I can only accomplish a few things each day and I have to prioritize what’s most important. Instead of getting everything done, I’m getting the most important things done. I’m intentionally slowing down and making room for peace and calm. This necklace is my reminder to make space to breath and stop trying to do it all.


Yesterday I didn’t make our bed like I usually do and it wasn’t a big deal.

I didn’t make it to the grocery store, but we got by.

I didn’t fold the clothes in the dryer. I let them wait.

I didn’t return emails. I just didn’t get to it.

And I didn’t stress out. I got some other, really important things done. And it was enough.

With my more streamlined, kind-hearted to-do list life continues to move forward–everyone is bathed, dressed, fed and healthy. The world hasn’t spun off it’s axis. In fact, although not everything is getting done, I’m getting the important things done. I’m prioritizing what matters most. Instead of trying to do everything halfway or ‘good enough’. I’m doing less but giving it my full attention. I’m rushing less. I’m scheduling less and making room for downtime. I feel stronger, more peaceful and present.  Overall I’m better. It’s been life-changing. I think I’m hooked.

My to-do list doesn’t determine my self-worth.

I’m already worthy and loved.

I’m already enough, just as I am.

How’s your to-do list treating you lately?


  1. Thanks so much for this post. It’s very timely. Lately it seems there is always more on the list then hours in the day. I’m getting closer and closer to retirement age (and I don’t even work outside of the home any more…) and I can just imagine what it will be like when my sweetie is retired. It’s supposed to be a time when we enjoy each others company. But, if the list is soooo long that nothing but the list gets done. Where’s the fun in that?
    My daughter hooked me up with your blog addie… and I’m so glad she did. We have both learned lots and have both realized that we have no one to please but ourselves in how are homes look. Thanks for what you do.

  2. Great post! I also fall prey to my to do list (and the guilt or high that comes with not getting or getting things checked off). Something else that has made me feel better besides just giving myself some space to just be is to keep a done list. When I feel bad about not getting some task done, I look at my done list and can quickly see that I did, in fact, accomplish a whole lot of things. No guilt required.

  3. You are loved. You are enough.
    Deuteronomy 33:27 (Amp)
    The eternal God is your refuge and dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms..

  4. This is amazing! I’ve lived far too long as a slave to my to-do list even allowing it to determine if my day is going good or not…..getting frustrated when people get in the way of my to-dos. Recently I’ve been experimenting with only putting the three most important tasks on my list for each day. That has taken some of the pressure off. Some days I’m not even making a list but just doing the next thing that needs to be done. Finding it takes so much pressure off:)

  5. I love this because several years ago I decided to do the same and it’s OK!!!!!! It’s so much better and life still goes on………..Amen and Amen!

  6. I love your reflections, Lisa! I’ve struggled with the same thoughts and feelings. What helped me a ton was switching from a daily to-do list to a weekly list. I have a few health issues, which means some days are good and some not so good. Spreading out the tasks over a week is more realistic and less overwhelming for me. And I give myself the freedom to move items to the following week if they’re not absolute must-dos. I’ve learned to trust that I’ll get done what needs to get done and can still take the time I need to relax and take care of myself. It took a while to get here, but it sure feels good 🙂

  7. Oh my goodness. I think that you have read my mind. While I am at work, my to do list gets crazy with all of the things that I need to do when I get home. For a while, I would only let myself put 5 things on the list. When I got to 5, there could be no more. I love a list. I truly do. So glad that I am not the only one who struggles with this. Do the things that are important to you. Do the things that nurture your soul & make your family happy. Thanks for the right words on a day they needed to be heard most.

  8. Along with this has been my ability to finally say “no” to people. It has been such a weight lifted off my shoulders. I am learning that if I say no, that people will still like me. My friends will not desert me. By saying no, I have time to do what I really want to do- and do it well. This was a big step for me, but so worth it!

  9. This is wonderful. I am a to-do lister too. But I’ve been sick. So, I make my list for tomorrow even LONGER. Which really doesn’t do anyone any good, because I know it’s unrealistic. It’s been good for me to be sick. And take a minute to just be. And more importantly see my sweet family and what they work so hard at for each other and me instead of burying my head in my list and hurrying everyone along. I love how you said you’re ‘stronger, more peaceful, and present.’ Despite my fuzzy head, I feel that too. Thanks!

  10. Your writing and writing is paying off. I believe you are speaking to many Mama’s hearts. You are mine, so thank you! Your words are encouraging!

  11. You are worthy! No to do list can give you that. I was sick last week–just your common cold, but I had such a difficult time letting things go. I really debated whether to cancel my dinner plans and just rest. In the end, I gave myself extra time to nap, sip tea, and just get better. Guess what? I got better in half the time I normally would. What a reminder to listen to your inner voice that is trying to tell you what’s best.

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