I live my life on a strict schedule. My mantra was always “if you’re early you’re on time, if you’re on time, you’re late.”; sounds pretty straight forward right? And remaining on this strict schedule meant that I had listed for everything. Groceries, cleaning, errands, school stuff, my stuff, my husband’s stuff. I am a Post-It note, journal having nutcase.
While some may argue that getting rid of to-do lists makes you more productive, I tend not to agree. I do believe that having a list can make and keep you productive, however, I also realize that it varies from person to person. For me, getting rid of my tedious and very overwhelming to-do lists, just made me happier.
I think it’s safe to say we all want to feel happy. One of the biggest things I’ve learned in life is that happiness is a choice. You can feel happy and healthy regardless of what’s going on in your life. It starts with little choices we make each day that helps shape our attitude and overall feeling of well-being. When it came to my never-ending and super tedious planning and schedule, I realized that in the end it just wasn’t making me happy (no matter how productive I was).
Out of everything that I used my to-do lists for, I never actually used a single one to ensure that I was taking care of my needs as well. Over the last month, I have made a point to spend more time focusing on life rather than focusing on my lists. Needless to say, I think everyone in my home (including me) has become much happier. Here are some things I have learned and done since chucking my daily to-do list.
Life Audit: This may seem a little strange, and you are probably thinking what the heck is a life audit?”. But this is so important for each of us to do on a regular basis. I have taken long deep hard thoughts about the things that make me happy and don’t. If it doesn’t add value to my life, I get rid of it. If it makes me happy, I try and do more of it. One of the major things missing from life is experience. By that, I mean traveling to new places and meeting new people. I don’t want to look back and wish I had done something more. The life audit has allowed me to set clear goals to help me meet any needs or changes I wanted to make in my life.
Appreciate Chaos: I know that doesn’t sound as appealing as it could. But there is something about everything going to hell in a handbasket that I learned to appreciate it. For one, when it happens I am much less apt to freak out, as I previously would. The imperfect moments I have experienced over the last few weeks are happiness. No amount of lists in the world would be able to give me some of the wonderful, spur-of-the-moment times I have had with my kids lately.
Just Be: I don’t have to be everything to everyone all of the time. My lists always gave a visual rundown of what I was supposed to do. But a lot of it was things I knew already. Bills, shopping, kids-Duh? What it didn’t do was give me a chance to just be Tasha, or mom, or wife. It’s silly to think that a little piece of paper or journal could have that much control, but in some ways it does. When you are used to running a tight ship, it can be difficult to change. No matter how late it was, I’m glad that I “saw the light”.
Do you use lists? If so do you feel you could be as productive without them? Let me know in the comments below!
Love of impromptu dance parties, 80’s cartoons, and horizontal life pauses (aka naps); Natasha Brown is a stay at home mom of 4 kids, and wife to one lucky guy! In her spare time, she is co-editor of Grits & Grace, as well as editor for The Mother Hustler Blog and Creative Director for the Mother Hustler podcast.