Oh no, I’m not letting go of to-do lists.
I love them. They help me accomplish more things by keeping me focused and on-track so my stress levels are reduced. Critical for my vibrant aging.
It’s the unrealistic to-do lists I’m talking about.
You know the ones. Lists showing 50 things to-do that normally would take 50 hours, but you’re trying to cram it all into 24 hours. Lists that contain 50 things to cram into 24 hours that you believe are absolutely essential for everything to be just right. Crazy and completely stress-inducing.
But how I choose to handle these unrealistic lists makes all the difference in my stress level and ultimately, premature aging.
I opt for cutting that list down to a realistic size. I slash away without guilt and anxiety. I let go of everything non-essential on that list. So often for important events, my to-do list gets out of control because I want to do everything possible – all the nice, but not necessary, things. So unrealistic with limited hours.
This past Friday and Saturday was a perfect example. Friends were arriving for the weekend on Saturday at 5 pm. The to-do was a mile long with housecleaning, grocery shopping and cooking chores plus projects for a business client. Plus these blog posts for Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
At 7:00 am Friday, I was optimistic. I can get this done!
By 10:00 am, reality hit. There was simply no way I could accomplish everything. I knew it deep inside. So I grabbed that list and starting telling myself NO. I crossed, slashed and juggled things. Every time I opted to eliminate something, I felt relieved and even more energetic. I knew inside I was trying to do too much.
I cut nice, but not necessary things:
- Folding all the laundry I let pile up for a week. I folded a few and hid the rest. Empty LLBean bags and large wicker baskets stuck in dark closets work wonders.
- Dusting the woodwork and window sills in most rooms. My friends will merely glance at certain rooms (as I take them on the tour of our new house).
- Rearranging the mess and stacks of papers/files in my office. I just grabbed most of that crap and threw it in a big LLBean canvas bag.
- Dusting all the paintings/artwork. It hasn’t been done since last fall. Just wait for the one year mark!
- Mopping the downstairs kitchen and great room floor. What was I thinking?! I’d have to do it all over again Saturday after cooking and baking.
- Exercise. A sixty minute boxing class was the goal. Then it was a 30 minute workout at the YMCA. By 2:00 I figured I’d have to just do a 20 minute power walk in my neighborhood. Then by 3:30 I said, realistically, I will have to take an exercise off day. Besides, housework counts as activity! Woo hoo!
- Blog posts #16, 17 and 18 this weekend. Combining them today is a stress-free solution.
- Cleaning bathrooms and vacuuming. Light dusting. Grocery shopping. (Cooking can wait until Saturday along with mopping.)
- Client projects.
- Getting to the Airport on time so I could greet Jeff when he gets off the plane. We made a pact in 2005 that barring a major emergency, we would always take each other to, and pick each other up from, the airport. We’ve never missed once in 12 years. Well, once I didn’t make it in time to park and just picked him up outside after he got his luggage. But it counted.
And this is what really matters: Jeff and my friends. Not dusted woodwork and paintings or a super-neat office. I accomplished only the essential.
Check out those tiny chalkboards! I was so relaxed on Saturday afternoon and had plenty of time to make these. Jeff and I had a fabulous visit with Tim and Jan because I wasn’t all stressed out.
(I talked about chalkboards at parties here.)
I’m always eager to hear how others deal with long to-do lists, so let me know! I’d love to hear from you.