Get Excited About Ditching Your To Do List


If there’s one thing people say about me – it’s that I get sh** done. And, I do! I live and die by my to-do list. Every aspect of my life is on it from what I want to cover when I call my mom to the air conditioner appointment that needs to be scheduled to reviewing monthly financial statements at work. I mean – I list it all! You know something else? It’s never ending! It is exhausting! At the end of the day, there are multiple items that don’t get done and are rolled over to tomorrow. Some have been rolled over for months, as a matter of fact. On top of that, I can’t see what I’ve accomplished because I’ve marked it out with a fat black line thanks to my handy sharpie. When I go to bed, I can’t shut down my brain because I keep seeing my list or remembering things I need to add so I don’t forget them.

One day I walked into my office, grabbed my cup of coffee and sat down to open my planner with 101 things I needed to accomplish that day – but, I didn’t open it. I sat there for a moment and asked myself, “What’s the worst that can happen if I don’t get one thing on this list done today?” Next question. Are the items on this list important enough that I’d remember them to do them if I hadn’t written them down? That day started an exploration for me. I consciously made the decision that once a week I would skip the list. I would participate in my life - without the playbook of the planner.


Well, after your shock wears off, let me share how that first day went. I started with a choice – how empowering to not have my day dictated by a piece of paper I created. Without an overwhelming list in front of me, I had the opportunity to ask myself, “What do I want to do? Open email? Dive into the project I’m always too tired to start at the end of the day? Or, actually go say good morning to the people in my office?” I still showed up for my meetings that day and even took time to enjoy them because I didn’t feel the urge to escape to the next task. I was present and able to enjoy myself and those around me.

I was recently interviewed on the Be Awesome Podcast where Dr. Kristina Hallett, and I spoke about my experiment. Afterwards, I googled the benefits and downfalls of to-do lists. I found a million items about how to make your list more productive, organize them, software and apps to use and even how putting it on a list clears your brain. What I didn’t see was the downside of a to-do list or how it can be detrimental. It can be overwhelming and leave you completely stressed at the end of the day. There’s always another chore to do. It always left me feeling like I could have done more. I wasn’t participating in or enjoying my life because I was always “on task.”

So, I challenge you – be rebellious. Put down THE LIST. I’m not talking anything drastic. Just try it for a day. The experience can be powerful. I’d love to have you share what happens with us when you do!

All too often life throws us curve balls or we end up on autopilot ready to implode. We find ourselves burying our feelings just to keep everyone and everything around us afloat. Is it time to start to release some of the pressure and get to know yourself again? Shine Your Bright can help. Start with our journal now!

Heather Breedlove