The Raphael Remedy

The “To-Don’t” List

by | Jan 3, 2015 | Coaching

Ah, it’s a new year and time to set our resolutions of all the good things we would like to do and all the bad things we would like to stop doing. But New Year’s resolutions have become almost cliché. So many jokes are made about giving up on those resolutions by the middle of January that it may make you feel almost silly to even admit that you made any.

I find a similar phenomenon when it comes to my to-do list and my list of goals. They’re both pretty hefty. By nature I’m a list maker, typical of my melancholy temperament. There’s nothing more satisfying than seeing things crossed off my list – tangible evidence of all I accomplished. (And being very visually oriented, I always cross them out in red for bigger impact.) But my attempts at organization and lofty ideals often create more stress for me than I like to admit. In my mind is a never-ending list of ideas and things to do. It can make it really hard to relax!

Being a bit of a perfectionist, procrastination was never unusual for me. I know I’m not alone. We perfectionists want to do things really well, and fearing we can’t, we can often put things off until the perfect time, which usually never arrives. They can be simple things and yet they sit and beckon us, causing us anxiety, and distress. In the past I’d put up Post-It notes reading “Do it now!” I have to admit, they really helped but that has proven to be a double-edged sword. There is only so much you can do right now, just like there is only so much we can fit in a physical space.

Ironically, creating a list of things I’m NOT going to attempt each day – my “To-Don’t” list is often the key to getting things done and reducing my angst. By deciding not only what I will do on a given day, setting a boundary for things I won’t do really helps. If on a given day I’m working, then washing the floors, cleaning out the garage, or reorganizing the pantry need to not be attempted – or even thought about. By creating my own “time zones” and deciding what I won’t do in that time sets me free to focus on what I am doing.

So to my fellow idealistic, perfectionistic, anxiety prone, list-making, overwhelmed melancholies forge ahead this new year with confidence and hope. Even though you may feel stressed by your lofty ideals, goals and never-ending to-do lists, you’re probably accomplishing a LOT more than you give yourself credit for.

Here are a few more tips and tools that may help you:

1.  The book, Time Management from the Inside Out, is chocked full of wise tips and helpful ideas. You may not use them all but I bet you’ll use some.

2.  Trello, a free online tool to create your lists, provides an organized and portable way to keep track of your many goals, house projects, shopping lists, Christmas lists, errands, and many other things to do. Simply knowing everything you want to do is safely recorded and accessible anywhere and any time (via mobile apps right on your phone) takes the angst out of not doing things right now. Many of the things on your daily “to-don’t” list are actually simply “to-do’s” for different days. Once recorded you can schedule them in and stop thinking about them.

3.  Lastly, ask for the help of your guardian angel. Many times when I have a lot to do, I ask my guardian angel to help me organize, stay on track, and accomplish things. It’s amazing how much more productive I am when I do that! Ask and then keep your eyes open to see.

Do you have any other simple tips that work for you? We’d love to hear about them.

Happy New Year…now let’s get it rolling.


Allison Ricciardi, LMHC
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