Fuck the to-do list

The to-do list.

Productivity tool. Brain de-clutterer. Grocery tracker. Chore tasker. It’s the list we all have. Often on our phones, maybe on some paper, post-its, or even kitchen white-boards (maybe even all four). It’s the list we have 20 versions of: one for groceries, one for work tasks, one for home chores, one for home Renos, one for dog training, one for hobbies, one for if-we-have-time, one for restaurants to try, one for thrift store shopping, one for the highest priority items, one for the projects we have been “working on” for years and one for travel packing.

We’ve all been sold on the to-do list. It helps keep our brain decluttered. It keeps us focused on what it is important or urgent. It keeps us productive.

For years the to-do list has run my life. A constant list of things I need to do, need to remember, need to address, need to spend my waking hours thinking about, my sleeping hours stressing about, and at least once a week need to spend time re-organizing.

It has done its job. Helping me get through hectic weeks at work. Helping me stay on track with home chores. Helping me focus on priority tasks. Helping me procrastinate tasks I’m trying to avoid by doing absolutely everything else. It has managed my sanity during hectic moves from one city to another. It helped me launch a business. Without it I would have forgotten many a critical item for a trip. It hasn’t all been bad.

But lately the love is gone. Lately the list grows at a rate I cannot keep up with.
There is a list for my job.
A list for my other job.
A list for special projects for each job.
A list for the regular house chores.
A list for our home renovations.
A list for preparing for ski season.
A list for what I hope to find at a thrift store.
A list of gifts to pick up.
A list for groceries of course.
A list for an upcoming trip.
A list for things I want to write.
I have a to-do list for it all. To-do lists managed my life for the past decade but the lists have taken over. I’ve gotten so good at using the list that I can hardly remember to do something if it’s not on a list.

It’s time for to-do lists and I to break up.

Instead of helping my productivity, today my to-do lists stress me out. My life has gotten too busy to ever have a hope in hell of reaching the end of my to-do lists. By the time I’ve finished everything on one list, I’ve added at least five things to other lists. Now, instead of keeping me productive, my to-do lists just tower over me menacingly like evil characters in a cartoon. They are always there, never ending, always telling me to “be more productive”.

There is always something to do, so I shouldn’t sit around enjoying my coffee in the morning, I should get more done!

There is not enough time in life to get my to-do list done and frankly, that’s okay.

I’m done trying to do it all. I’m over trying to be productive all the time. I’m ready for weekends at home spending time doing anything but items on my to-do list. I’m ready to forget things I need to get done and then realize the world will not actually end if I don’t get them done. I’m ready for projects that go unfinished and time wasted. I’m ready to go at it without a to-do list.

Fuck the to-do list.