It’s time for a reframe.
This article is cross-posted from my weekly newsletter, The Sunday Soother, a newsletter about clarity, intention, and useful tips for creating more meaning in your life that goes out every Sunday morning. Subscribe here. I am also a coach who works with sensitive people so they can stop second-guessing, make decisions confidently and live the life they’ve always dreamed of. You can learn more about working with me here.
It’s time for a to-do list reframe.
I’ve been writing about some heavy topics the last few weeks; struggling with my sense of self-trust; my inner child; and today, I was going to write this whole in-depth guide to figuring out what your life purpose is, as part of letting you know about my new course, Practical Spirituality (it’s a six-week course and community all about figuring out a deeper connection to yourself and the world around you, and the first week is going to be all about how you can uncover your life purpose, because it is a big part of my spiritual belief system that we all have one, and I think there are exercises and tools that can get you closer to understanding it).
But you know what? Sometimes you can only write about so much intense stuff before you need a break. And to focus on the more practical, mundane, regular parts of life.
Like the to-do list.
Ahh, the promise of a to-do list. So fresh! So much productivity! So many satisfying line items to cross off!
But if you’re anything like me, a person who turns to over-doing and creating work to cope under times of stress, your to-do list as it stands may be feeling a little heavy as of late. Never-ending; intense; maybe somewhere along the way its sense of promise and fresh days full of potential shifted into something more restrictive and critical.
I think the to-do list could use a rebrand, personally.
So I’ve been playing around with renaming my to-do lists. Now, this isn’t about a brand-new shiny system full of Trello boards and markers and philosophy about how to totally revamp your to-do list.
It’s way more simple than that.
It’s about giving your to-do list a new name.
The word “do,” or “doing,” in the context of a to-do list, can start to feel a little uninspiring, I think. To do… so much executing. So much action. So much obligation. The doing never ends.
So instead of a to-do list, try titling your lists in one of these ways (or, your own interpretation!)
- The “to create” list. Naming a list this way reminds me that all day long I have opportunities to create. My doing is actually creating; I am, in some cases, creating things out of thin air (new courses, essays, opportunities). Your “to create list” can help you reframe the items you’d like to approach with a sense of more creative empowerment, rather than dutiful obligation.
- The “to trust myself with” list. Along the lines of my own experiments with self-trust I’ve written about the past few weeks, I like this list as a reframe that the things I want to do in a day or week aren’t just about productivity; it’s about reminding myself that I am capable and trusting of myself to keep promises to myself.
- The “reverse to-do” list, or the “did it” or “ta da!” list. I can’t take credit for this one, I stumbled across the concept in an Internet search recently. Basically at the end of a day, you write down everything you have accomplished. This reddit post explains more
- The “to value” list. In my intentional living course, we spend an entire week on tracking time and money, because your day-to-day actions are, in fact, the values you are already living; you just might not be that conscious about them. To make sure your activities and actions are reflecting the values you want to embrace in your life, try a “to value” list; simply write out a value or two you want to embody that day or week, and assign tasks or items to each of those values. If a task doesn’t fit in a value, that’s okay — the goal here isn’t to only do things we 100% value, but simply to be aware of the balance of things we’re valuing in our life vs. doing on auto-pilot.
This kind of reframing or renaming may sound too simple, but I urge you to give it a try; it’s surprisingly effective in switching your energy from being one of overwhelmed by to dos, into realizing you’re able to be more proactive and intentional than you may have given yourself credit for.
I’d love to hear, do you have a special name for your to-do list? How do you approach keeping track of things? And let me know if you try out one of these and how it goes for you!