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Give Your To-Do List (And Yourself) a Break

Give Your To-Do List (And Yourself) a Break

Every morning when I wake up, my monkey mind inevitably roams to the realms of my to-do list. Iíll bet you can all relate. We wake up, stretch, rub our eyes, then BOOM. The chatter begins. There is grocery shopping to do. Child care to deal with. Meetings, work, presentations, homework, whatever. Youíve barely just opened your eyes, and already, youíre feeling anxious.

What must I do today?

My daily list always includes writing for Owning Pink, checking email, tweeting on Twitter, paying attention to my daughter, cooking healthy meals, getting outside and exercise, meditating, catching up on Facebook, working on my next book, returning phone calls, and making time for sex with my husband. These days, my to-do lists also include seeing clients at the Owning Pink Center, planning my upcoming book tour, and meeting with men and women who are interested in co-creating with me. When I look at my list, it can be quite daunting. Chances are, if I expect to accomplish everything on my to-do list daily, I will fail, and then I will feel crappy about failing. Iíll bet most of you are nodding your heads right about now. Youíre thinking of your own to-do lists and feeling overwhelmed. We all try to accomplish so much that we forget the ultimate goal- happiness and inner peace.

You’re not Superhuman

One way Iíve learned to bring inner peace to my life is to recognize that I canít possibly be Superwoman. I am flawed. I am human. If I expect to check off everything on my daily list, I will always let myself down. Who wants to feel like a failure every day? So I opt not to let that happen. Instead, when I think about my upcoming day, I consciously choose what I will let slide. Today is Monday and I spent all weekend with my family, so I will probably put my nose to the grindstone and neglect my daughter a bit. I will eat left-overs so I donít have to cook. I will probably skip meditating (sadly, itís too often the first one to go). Today, I will focus on writing my book today. I will try to go for a hike because I skipped it the last two days so I could spend time with my family. My husband and I have a sex date tonight, so I will stop work early enough to be present for him.

Be mindful about what you won’t accomplish today

This way, at the end of the day, I have been mindful of what gets done and what doesnít. Instead of kicking myself for not checking off everything on my list, I will pat myself on the back for doing the things I chose to do. I will celebrate being good enough, even though I let some things slide. I will honor myself for a job well done. I will remember that inner peace is more important than to-do lists and accomplishments.

What about you? Are you ready to give yourself a break? Here are a few tips on how.

1. Make a list of all the things you plan to accomplish for each day of this week. Label them Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, etc.
2. Review your list and determine whether thereís any chance youíll actually accomplish everything on your list. Really. Can you do it all?
3. Sort through every dayís list and decide what you will let slide. Try not to let the same thing slide every day. (I know. I know. Iíve gotta start meditating). Be mindful of how you give yourself permission to be human. Decide what you most want to accomplish and put stars by those items. Now cross out as many of the unstarred items as you possibly can. Commit to putting your full attention towards those items youíve deemed most important.
4. Surrender the rest of the things on the list. Let them go. Set the intention of letting them slide. If you find yourself with extra time at the end of the day, you can always add them back on, but then youíll feel a huge sense of accomplishment, instead of the usual sense of failure.
5. At the end of the day, when youíve made progress on your starred items, celebrate your success. Reward yourself by massaging your feet with a scented lotion or sitting down with a good book. Honor the good work you have done, reveling in the sense of accomplishment you feel.

Try this out. I swear it works. It doesnít mean youíre a slacker. It just means youíre being kind to yourself. Youíre giving yourself permission to be human. Youíre honoring the hard work you do every day trying to keep life moving. Youíre bringing yourself one step closer to inner peace. Be compassionate with yourself. Practice loving-kindness towards YOU.

What will you let slide today?

Photo credit: PhotoXpress.com

Read more: Children, General Health, Love, Mental Wellness, Self-Help, Sex, , , , , , , ,

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Lissa Rankin

Lissa Rankin, MD is a mind-body medicine physician, founder of the†Whole Health Medicine Institute training program for physicians and other health care providers, and the New York Times bestselling author of†Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof That You Can Heal Yourself.† She is on a grassroots mission to heal health care, while empowering you to heal yourself.† Lissa blogs at†LissaRankin.com and also created two online communities -†HealHealthCareNow.com and†OwningPink.com. She is also the author of two other books, a professional artist, an amateur ski bum, and an avid hiker. Lissa lives in the San Francisco Bay area with her husband and daughter.

44 comments

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7:01AM PST on Nov 24, 2011

Thanks to Lissa and everyone who commented. I'm always writing lists but ten forget to consult them - added to that I'm a shocking procrastinator. The sort of things that work for me are timing things, making things into a game... Also I've got a 'writing buddy' and we phone or email each other to say what we intend to do that day, and let each other know how we've got on.

6:43AM PDT on Aug 9, 2010

I have run my life by lists ever since I was a single parent, who was working fulltime and attending school fulltime. I finally realized how out of control my life had become just over two years ago. I came to that realization when I had to go to the store to buy a bigger wall calendar, in order to fit all of my "tasks" into the calendar date squares. It was only after I still couldn't fit all of my "to do's" on the calendar, that the lightbulb moment occurred for me. I am not, nor have I ever been, Superwoman. It was time for me to expect less of myself.

I am still never satisfied with what I am able to accomplish in a day, but, at least, I no longer have that HUGE, filled calendar staring me in the face the moment I open my eyes in the morning.

9:03PM PDT on Jul 31, 2010

Great article! And I think item 5 is actually the best one! We have to celebrate our sucess more often!!! :-)

11:11AM PDT on Jul 30, 2010

Thanks for this.

5:41PM PDT on Jul 29, 2010

Thanks for the article.

5:23PM PDT on Jul 25, 2010

Be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead!"

- I Peter 1:6

6:37PM PDT on Jul 24, 2010

I'm not saying I needed permission to feel ok about not getting my daily list finished, but it is nice to realize that other people are not always achieving as much as they think/hope they can.
And to find out that they fret about it too!
I've taken to making my list for the next day, with stars beside those two or three chores that are time-sensitive.
Those items left at the end of the day are merely added to the next day's list, with or without stars.

6:35PM PDT on Jul 24, 2010

I'm not saying I needed permission to feel ok about not getting my daily list finished, but it is nice to realize that other people are not always achieving as much as they think/hope they can.
And to find out that they fret about it too!
I've taken to making my list for the next day, with stars beside those two or three chores that are time-sensitive.
Those items left at the end of the day are merely added to the next day's list, with or without stars.

1:51AM PDT on Jul 24, 2010

Thanks for the article.

10:09PM PDT on Jul 23, 2010

Great article. Thanks, Lissa.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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