Tuesday, 22 June 2021

LIFESTYLE // To-Do Lists (Are They Useful?)


To-do lists

I used to thrive off a to-do list before I started letting it dictate what a failure I was. The list was always so big with so much to achieve and when I was soaring and feeling confident in myself it was so easy to move down that list and tick off item, after item, after item. It was only as my mental health took a turn 5 years ago that I really noticed how hard I was making things for myself. My lists were constant and full of high aspirations. Routines and to-dos were based around house cleaning, fitness, low eating diets, perfection parenting, just to mention a few. There was also work and within that a lack of high job satisfaction and a new school run, where I had to look like I had it all together.

All these things attributed to the fact that my to-do lists were created by a person who was constantly telling me I was not enough. I was not worth having a clean house for. I was not worth the dedication I put in to keeping “trim”. I was not a good enough parent to be attending toddler classes. I most certainly didn’t and couldn’t get to grips with being a school mum and doing it well. My lists of things became domineering. It consumed me, the idea of making sure I got things done.

When I ending up in CBT therapy I later found out about how I needed to cut out everything I thought I had to do and start a manageable process of “doing” again. 'What did I want to do that I could actually do?' became the new question. 

I had spent so long trying to manage a list of unachievable and unrealistic actions that stripping that away made me realise that the only way to achieve was to literally start from the bottom and start small and follow the steps to growth. In my case, a way to regrow. 

To this day I have my fitbit programme set up to only achieve exercise 2 times a week. Why? Because in the midst of my reformation my councillor really encouraged me to do 2 things a week only until I was steadily achieving that every week. Why? Because when you achieve something you feel capable, strong and slowly become more determined. The moment you underachieve on your plan you can become demotivated, self critical and lack the drive to try again. Over 5 years later from this conversation I still flick on to my fitbit programme weekly and see how it has not only logged 2 days exercise with a positive affirmative praise message for me and logged more days to boot. I get my two days and feel satisfied each week that I hit my goal, knowing now though that I hit it and added a bit more. The weeks where I only hit those two days are just as good as the weeks I hit 5!

Understanding how better to use a to-do list is where I have eventually ended up. Instead of using it as a mark to show up what you have and haven’t done I live with an attitude which places the most important to-dos at the top of the list and I work my way down it over days, weeks, even months signing things off in a positive and constructive manner. 

I read recently about how important it is to really look at your lists of to-dos and first place importance on them measuring them up against consequences that may happen if not achieved. In the work place this is obviously more helpful when you have to manage actions against timelines. It still works in the same way though: line up the jobs, get the important ones done first, that gives you satisfaction and a push to pursue the rest of the list and finish with more internal praise than self condemnation . 

What I have found is also removing things like “wash floors” off the list as I know that job needs to get done and it will be done but I alleviate the pressure to always have it as a job that MUST be completed. 

Managing an achievable list is where it starts, making sure you are pushing yourself from a place of positive growth will always help you achieve rather than hinder you.


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