Simplifying the To-do list

A minimalist approach to one's goals and lists.

Do you ever feel like there's so many things you wanna get done, you don't even know where to start? Does that ever paralyse you? If not, lucky you! I on the other hand always want to do so many new things it's hard to keep track sometimes.

I'll admit, I'm not very patient with myself, I wanna be able to do everything at the same time, get it all done, and done nicely! Of course this is a sure recipe to feel like a major failure. It's overwhelming to say the least, and not knowing where to begin means I don't ever start many things I wish I would.

Stick to the Essentials

Coming into the minimalist living mindset, I realised I could apply the same concept here. Mainly it helped me eliminate non essentials from my list and allows me to focus on what's important.

Taking something off my list doesn't mean it's off the table forever though. It only means it's a low priority and if it's something I truly want to do, it will make its way back on the list when the time is right. But at the moment, to keep on the list only adds mental clutter and stresses me out.

Smaller lists are easier to manage and to finish. If you are constantly adding, you never see the end of it.

I rarely ever wrote down my wishful to-do lists. I would just have all of it floating around in my mind. I had tried a few times to write it all down, just like the super efficiency experts recommend, but it didn't really make a difference. I still felt overwhelmed by it all. Worse even, realising my list was shorter than I felt and thought it was in my head only made me feel more of a failure for not being able to handle it.

Question everything

So this time around, I still wrote all of it down, but now I would question myself about each item on it:

  • Do I need this done? And do I need it done now?
  • Why do I need it done? Will it get me closer to my goals?

Everything else got crossed off. As I said before, crossed items might reappear on later lists, when I'm done with some of my most important tasks. But if it doesn't, it means it wasn't all that important to me in the first place. Sometimes I think we get stuck on stuff that no longer serves us because we forget to reevaluate ourselves and stick to ideas our old selves had.

Have defined goals

Knowing what your goals are, is also very important. It's hard to filter your list without knowing the answers to the questions mentioned above. And I guess for some people that might be the trickiest part. Until very recently I had no idea where I wanted to head with my life. I was just going with the flow and kinda grabbing on to the mainstream idea of success. Meaning, I was extremely focused on work, almost blindly. I was mildly depressed and work was something I could focus on and see results of my efforts, at least for a while. But eventually that changed when my physical health started to deteriorate. I realised that when I die, work won't be at my deathbed holding my hand, people will. That's when my priorities started to shift.

Although during that earlier time, part of me was always looking for my true goal. The sad part is, that in my experience, these things will come to us in its own time. Forcing it doesn't help. It was always when I put myself out there with an open mind to new things that my path would shape in the right direction. And as much as it sucks for me to say this, downtime is also a necessary part of the process. Think of it like Summer and Winter, active and dormant time. Both are important.

Get to it

This helped unload some of the initial burden for me. It was a process, but as time went by it got easier to let go and it became automatic to make a decision on what makes the cut. I still apply this when I start to pile up on ideas. It's easy for me to fall back into overload mode, but this makes my anxiety manageable and teaches me patience.

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