Why You Need to Ditch Your To-Do List ASAP
Tell the truth... Do you feel like your days are an endless battle of you versus your never-ending to-do list?
I mean, it’s supposed to help you out — to make your life easier — but somehow each evening you’re left feeling like your list won. Again. Because no matter how hard you try, you simply can’t do #allthethings!
I get it. I’ve been there, and today, I’m sharing why it’s time for you to ditch that life-sucking list.
But before you start hyperventilating and breathing into a paper bag at the very thought of functioning without your list, I want to assure you that I’m not asking you to jump out of the plane without a parachute.
Instead, I’m offering you a better way to get through your days that actually allows you to be productive while also still enjoying your life, work, family, and dare I say, some precious alone time.
First, let’s talk about the three reasons I know that your daily to-do list is completely tanking your productivity and leading to overwhelming stress.
Problem #1 with To-Do Lists: They aren’t written with any sort of priorities in mind
And as your brain scans them, it tells you that you have to get all this done today.
Most of the women I’ve worked with were starting their mornings creating a daily list of tasks from a brain dump with their coffee. Anything and everything that came to mind went on the list with no thought to time constraints or priorities.
Then, as they looked back at their list, overwhelm began to set it. How could they possibly do all of this in one day? (Spoiler alert: they couldn’t, and you can’t either).
This brings us to:
Problem #2 with To-Do Lists: Without clear priorities, you’re asking your brain to make big decisions and expend a lot of energy in the process.
The more choices you have to make, the more exhausting it gets. And when you’re operating from an unorganized to-do list, you are in a constant state of decision fatigue. Because just when you cross something off your list, you have to go back and look at your list again for what's next. By the end of the day, your brain is exhausted!
Lastly, and probably most importantly:
Problem #3 with To-Do Lists: They are completely unrealistic, and you’re setting yourself up to fail.
How many times have you woken up, done one of those brain dump to-do lists, and actually got it all done at the end of the day? Chances are you answered almost never.
So, what happens to the leftover tasks? They go on tomorrow’s list, and the cycle continues with a lot of the most important things never being done.
It also means that you go to bed most days feeling like a failure because, at the end of the day, your to-do list is never complete.
And, just for good measure, here’s one more...
BONUS Problem with To-Do Lists: They don’t include the big huge projects that we have going on that we know are going to take days, weeks, or even months.
They don’t make the list because they’re so big, but their size also usually means they’re pretty important to us (bringing us full circle back to priorities!). This problem may be a subtle one, but it’s still extremely important.
So, what’s the alternative? I’m certainly not suggesting that you don’t make plans.
Instead of a daily, brain dump to-do list dictating your life, I encourage you to embrace the habit of a weekly planning process.
When you sit down to create a thoughtful weekly plan and you are looking at an honest assessment of the amount of time you have every single day. And instead of looking at that whole, gigantic list multiple times a day, every single day, you are going to work on just the most important tasks. And you are going to ask yourself, “When do I honestly have time to get this thing done?”
And guess what? That might mean that you only have two things to do for Monday.
But with way fewer choices, you've now removed decision fatigue and you're ensuring that the most important things get done.
What do you say? Are you ready to ditch the daily to-do lists and instead step into an intentional weekly plan? I know you can do it!
Now, there's a ton of strategy and guidance that I give on how to build a super successful weekly plan, and if you’re interested to learn more, I encourage you to download my Weekly Planning Guide here.
For more tips on all the things, time management, organization, and productivity, check out more blogs or podcast episodes!