It's easy to forget that we are all perfect in our own design. Sometimes we muck it up with habits and choices that do not serve us. 

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Why You Need to Create Intentional To-Do Lists

map-direction-journey-wanderlust-explore-route-concept-picture-id538472014 Why You Need to Create Intentional To-Do Lists

Have your to-do lists gotten out of hand? Could they easily be mistaken for a short novel? Hey, friend, I’m not judging. I get it. To-do lists keep us focused, right? They keep us moving in a forward direction. Or, do they?

For several years, I took pride in having a long to-do list because it meant I was setting goals. As a writer of several fiction books, I always have some project that I’m in the middle of, another project that I’m just beginning, and a crazy amount of marketing that always needs to be done.

So, in order to accomplish these tasks, I always had three or four to-do lists going at one time. Let me just give you a quick idea of what these lists included:

  • The Mega List: This was the to-do list in my planner. At the beginning of the week, I filled that sucker up with publishing, marketing, and promotion tasks that, ideally, needed to get done that week. I added to the list as the days multiplied, proudly and confident that I was Superwoman and could achieve all these tasks.

  • The Story Idea List: Like I said, I’m a writer. Us creative entrepreneurs always have a million ideas bouncing around in our heads. In fact, if you were to open up our brains, they’d probably resemble a pinball game, all levers, balls, and flashy, distracting lights. Those ideas can’t be contained in one’s head. They must find their way out and onto paper. Hence, another list with an impossible number of to-dos on it.

  • The Self Care List: This list was meager. I mean I already filled up my week with my Mega List and the Story Idea List, but why not add some yoga classes and running sessions to my list for a bonus?

  • The Family List: On this list, I wrote down everything that required mine or my kids’ presence that week. This list usually ended up half-written, though, on a receipt from a grocery trip that would find its way into the bottom of my purse. Sometimes the list only formed in my head. Most things on this list were forgotten.

Are you exhausted reading this? I don’t blame you. I’m exhausted writing about and remembering these stupid lists. That’s right! My to-do lists were stupid. They were pointless because they weren’t getting me any closer to my goals, just closer to a breakdown.

My turning point came one evening within the four corners of my yoga mat. Here I realized I needed to be intentional with my time. For me, that meant focusing on three things each day that mattered for my business, my self care, and my family. Once I decided to focus on creating an intentional to-do list, I discovered the following.

Meaningless tasks were taking over my day

Nothing was getting done because I wasn’t focused on what needed to be done in the moment. I tended to use my to-do list as a dream list. It was so forward focused that all I ever saw was the big picture with so many steps from now to the end that it was overwhelming. I need to stop working for tomorrow and focus on today.

By being intentional, I got more done and felt refreshed

Usually, when I completed the long list I created for myself on any given day, I felt exhausted by evening. My eyes hurt from being on the computer all day. My shoulders ached because I have horrible posture at my desk. And, I still felt like I was so far from reaching my goals. In fact, as soon as I would check something off my list, I’d add another to-do at the end. How can you ever feel a sense of completion when the list keeps growing? My friends, when I really looked at my to-do list I realized it wasn’t a list at all. It was a blackhole sucking me into nowhere.

Are you being sucked into nowhere?

Here’s the deal. For many people, lists keep us organized and on track. If we use them intentionally, we achieve goals and feel a sense of accomplishment. When we abuse lists, we turn into zombies. We turn into people who have no sense of completion because our lists never end. How is that helping us?

If you’re a to-do lister, I challenge you to take a look at your lists and find a way to pare down them down. Stop spreading yourself thin. You’re not butter. You’re a person. A person who needs time to breathe, soak in the sun, and feel like your life is worth so much more than words on paper. I promise you’ll get everything that’s important done. The rest is just noise. Turn down the volume and walk away from it. You’ll be happier and that’s always the best accomplishment.

Tell us about your to-do list? How are you setting intentional lists? Share in the comments or on social media. We’d love to get your tips!

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