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To-Do Lists and Why They Don't Work


- cheese

- pickle

- ketchup

This was the last list I made in an airport on my way home from Florida. I'm the type of person who can remember a face, someone's favorite hobby, or even someone's whole life story ... but ask me to remember a name or what my life partner wants on his Whopper, and I'm a complete failure!

That's what I think about "to-do" lists - they are in the negative category for me. They get a big F in my grade book. So, if you were expecting some wise words on how to create the perfect list, or how to improve yourself to ensure things gets marked off your list, you're in the wrong place.

Sure, I make up lists all the time about what I need to do. Do you know where they end up? The recycling bin!

NOTE: A) I'm a tree hugger at heart and you will get yelled at in my house if you put your beer bottle in the trash, and B) even though I'm what they call a "millennial," I still retain more when I write things out so I have paper scattered everywhere on my desk.

All that being said, if you see me out and about in Indy and ask me about this article, I probably will have forgotten all about it since I'm typing it into my phone as I sit staring out at the clouds, flying back home on Frontier. They aren't Delta, but man, they are inexpensive and have a great liquor and wine selection for an airline!

Okay, so back to my beef with these "to-do" lists ... hang on, let me take a sip of wine first (only because I don't want it to spill on me the next time we hit turbulence). I don't like lists like this because I feel like a failure when I'm not able to tick off all the tasks in the time I allow myself. Sure, I use them as nice reminders for work purposes. But, if I fail to complete everything, I just feel bad at the end of the day. Who wants to go to bed upset with themselves because today "was too busy to get everything done?"

Recently, I went to Rome with a few friends. You could definitely spot the tourists - they were the ones rushing around with their maps, hoping to see all the sights they had packed in to their short trip. It's just like life with our mobile devices ... we rush around, looking at them constantly, and miss the beauty of life just happening around us.

I enjoyed the trip more once I slowed down and acted like a local. When in Rome, right? Romans expect you to sit around and take an hour to drink your coffee. Say what? Yep! You read that right. And, you don't open your laptop and connect to WiFi for the entire hour you're there. They don't even offer "to go" cups. (Side note: I am half Italian. I don't like the "To Go" concept ... except with food. I love the option of "to go," but actually more like the "to come to me," in the form of delivery.) Locals expect you to relax and enjoy your company (which might just be your own), the fresh air, the sights, and the taste of their amazing coffee (which is not even close to what we Americans think we know about coffee.) Oh, and did I mention that they approve of leisurely day drinking, as well? If I ever move, that might be my next location.

At home I have a sign in my office at that says, "Do at least one thing you love everyday!" I couldn't agree more. Recently, I've seen people post on Facebook that they are putting things on their to-do lists like:

  • I need to read X amount of books this month

  • Call a friend each week whom you haven't spoken to in a while

If these are things you enjoy, why the hell do you need to put them on a list? Just do it! (Oh, maybe that's how Nike got started! Mind blown.) Why not start making in-the-moment, conscious decisions to screw doing the dishes that evening so that you have more time to read an extra chapter of your book before bed? Really people? We only live once. We should really enjoy life by doing what we enjoy with our time. And if you LIKE doing dishes ... are you for hire?

Anyways ... do me a favor and take your so-called "to-do" lists and throw them away. (I mean, RECYCLE them or discard of them properly)! Though, if it's a list your boss has you keep

A) tell them to read my blog and do away with this silly nonsense and

B) get a new boss if they don't listen.

(Side note: I know life isn't that easy ... but if you do need a new boss I can definitely help in that department.)

By the way - I nailed the Whopper order. Maybe lists do work for the more important things in life you don't want to forget. Just don't let them make you feel bad if you forget something or some other wonderful adventure gets in the way.

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