To Do Lists Create Anxiety. What I do Instead.
Updated: Apr 27, 2022
When I have a list of to do's in my head or several appointments/errands scheduled in 1 day I get overwhelming anxiety. Like heart racing, panicked anxiety.
And I keep it all tucked inside. Which creates more than just anxiety. It creates resentment and even depression. I feel like I'm constantly chasing my list and I can't fathom taking on anything else.
If you get anxious with having a list of things to do, even if they are simple errands, perhaps my process can help.
It's a subtle shift, but for me it works wonders.
Here's how I dramatically reduce my anxiety in 10 minutes:
1. On paper- list out everything you need to do in the near future. Include the small and routine things like- picking up kids from school, deciding what dish to bring to a party, cancelling an appointment.
The key here is to include the things that are 'thinking and deciding' not just the doing.
Most folks stop here. This giant list is the cause of your anxiety. It's jumbled and un-prioritized. It feels like a mountain.
2. Now get your calendar out. Preferably an online calendar you can easily update and access on your phone.
3. Put every item in a real spot in your calendar. And estimate the actual time you need to complete it. Leave at least 15-30 minutes between your tasks if possible.
4. Front load the hard things. Hate paying the bills and always put it off?? 'Eat the frog" and schedule it first. Even better, don't schedule anything mentally difficult late in the day.
5. At the end of the day, anything not completed should be moved forward to a realistic spot in the calendar.
Here are the big "aha"moments from this practice.