📋 Escaping “To-Do List” Hell

I am becoming too productive, and it’s giving me anxiety.

In business, making lists is a good way to keep you accountable. They can help you be more productive. They assist in making sure you have your priorities straight and are working towards the right things. Overall, you’ll reach your targets with a well thought-out list.

Using lists is also how we can see positive movement in a business. This is especially true when you are just starting out, before any revenue is earned. That movement feels good. It keeps us fueled and moving forward, and we all love to check tasks off a big list.

I think lists are great for business, but when it comes to my personal life, it’s a little different. I have found that living from one to-do list to the other is a sure way to miss the moment.

Look, I am not one to write self-help advice and I promise that I am not going to start now.

I have just found myself reflecting on my current life (something I like to do) and evaluating whether I am living my life or if my life is living me. And lately it has felt like the latter.

A lot has been going on for me personally, and when professional aspirations and personal goals get overwhelming, I create lists to stay organized.

I have been living in my lists for about eight months straight now. Completing one and moving onto the other. At this point, it’s not even satisifying to finish a list, it’s just part of my standard routine.

I am becoming too productive, and it’s giving me anxiety.

Weird thing to say, right?

But it’s true, at least for me.

Over the past eight months I have been crushing tasks. Getting things done and Moving onto the next. Knocking that out. Rinse and repeat. I have been a machine marching forward.

And you know what? All this productivity is resulting in some pretty great outcomes. Business is more profitable than ever. Personal relationships are getting stronger. Life is becoming more colorful.

So I know what you’re thinking… all this sounds pretty great!

It is. It is great.

But I cannot deny that this pace of life is taking its toll on me. This outcome oriented outlook is causing me to miss the moment. This “get it done and move onto the next thing” approach is too mechanical for me. I can’t sustain it.

That is what causes me anxiety. I am in the habit of productivity and that’s not a good thing.

Anytime you have a habit, it means that you do something automatically. You don’t have to think. You don’t have to be present. It just happens because you’re used to making it happen. You’re able to switch onto autopilot. This is good for a little while, but I don’t want to be on autopilot throughout my life.

I have a few more lists to go, then I’m stopping.

The reality is that I have a few lists still on my plate, but they are getting close to being completed. As I finish them out, I am refusing to add more lists wherever possible.

I am not grasping the moment like I normally do. That gives me pause. Time is the most valuable asset that we have and I am not appreciating it nor experiencing it fully – and I blame these lists!

So, once I knock out these remaining items then I plan to just “be” for a little bit. For me, that means:

I have a habit of making everything feel urgent – like it needs to get done as soon as possible or it will never be “as good” as it possibly can be. I suspect that’s how I am able to get anything done. By removing that self-imposed urgency (or, dialing it down), I will remove that tendancy to always be looking towards “the next thing” to do.

Avoiding any near-future event planning will help with removing that sense of urgency too. For me, when I plan an event that is 30-45 days out, it weighs on my mind and I start to go through that list process all over again. Be it for filing taxes or planning travel, it will occupy headspace until it’s done and dusted.

I think it’s best to not be traveling during this time so that I’ll have time to explore my new city with my fiancé Lorena. I like that. I need to get a better sense of where I live so I can appreciate the people and places.

But not everything will be about exploring the local area. I do have personal, self-improvement goals that I will dedicate some time to as well. Things like studying Spanish and exercising. I do these activities anyway, but lately it feels like I “make time for them” and that prevents me from fully enjoying the time spent.

A solid month or more of following this strict approach is enough to get me centered and to calm my mind before jumping into the next major projects of life and business.

If you got this far, here is what it all means…

I am not going to recommend you do exactly what I am doing. That feels a little egotistical. You are a unique person with your own life outlook. What works for me might not work for you.

But there is one key takeaway from this self-reflection that I wish to share.

My prescription may not be for you, but the underlying motivator is applicable for anyone. To be happy, you need to live the time you are given.

To do this you need to be present in the moment. Check-in with yourself. Analyze how you are feeling as you are feeling it. If life feels like it has been a bit of a blur lately, then you need to make a change – even if temporary – to gain a little control & perspective.

Trust me, you will feel more fulfilled.


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