Rethinking My To-Do List(s)

I used to be a To-Do List Queen. Working in technology, you’d think I’d be super organised with one to-do list on the go. There are tons of apps to choose from. OneNote has always been a personal favourite. But no, my lists were everywhere – one on my computer, one in my email, one on my smartphone…and then the bits of paper. Again, ten on my desk, three on the staircase, two on the kitchen table, scraps of paper in my car, my purse, my suitcase…you get the point. And actually, I love them. There’s something about writing tasks down and checking them off that excites the inner child in me. Done. Done. Done.

But recently, I’ve attempted to change my lists. Sure, they still contain “must-dos”, but now they also include “want-to-dos”. What does this mean? Scanning my myriad of lists, I’d noticed that so many tasks and items simply stayed on the list for months at a time. I simply rewrote them on new bits of paper. Why? They weren’t a priority, and didn’t have any dire consequences. Yet, I kept them on the lists, and always felt like I didn’t have enough time to “get it all done.” Now, before I write it down, I ask myself if it’s a must-do, or a want-to-do. If it doesn’t fit one of these categories, it doesn’t go on the list.

I’ve learned this year that sometimes it’s okay to have an unfinished to-do list, to say no, and to take more time for self-care. Possibly an over-used word, but self-care simply means to prioritize YOU. No one else is going to love you, serve you, and understand you, if you don’t do it for yourself. Know when enough is enough, set boundaries, limits, and leave the guilt behind. Easier said than done, right? Here are some ways that you can incorporate more self-care into your life.

  1. Be okay with where you are. Whatever this year brought you, be thankful for where you are. The first step in self-care is being in a state of okayness (yes, I know it’s not really a word), rather, a place of acceptance for what you have, who you are, and who you are becoming. Be grateful for this place.
  2. Carve out time. For yourself. No, this is not the time you take to catch up on work, emails, or other things on your to-do list. This is the time you take to maintain a happy state. That’s a lot of hot air, you say? The truth is that we often don’t even know what makes us happy, or can’t recognise when we are. In a world of wanting and being more, more, more, it’s easy to forget that 5 minutes with a hot cup of tea, 10 minutes in meditation, or 2 minutes in a solo kitchen dance party (which I do – every. single. day.) can instantaneously change our state. In the words of Tony Robbins: “Shift your state to shift your thinking.”
  3. Be mindful. Another over-used term, it’s easy to overlook this. No, not just more fluff. Being mindful, to me, means being present and engaging in whatever I am doing at the moment, whether it be crossing the street in Bangkok (you’re in trouble, if you aren’t mindful then), or sitting down for a family dinner. This also includes taking the time to smell the roses (or whatever essential oil happens to be in the air), listening to others (really listening is a lost skill that can do wonders for any relationship), and sitting with ones’ breath. Even if this only serves to quiet your mind for moments at a time, it can help you to recognise just what makes you smile. And then? Do more of it.

Sometimes all we need to do is change our perspective, and sometimes we need to change our life lists. What can you take off of yours today?

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