How a “To-Don’t” List Helped My Productivity

I’m going to be honest: I’m not the most productive person. Like many millennials, I have a short attention span, I get easily distracted and sometimes and get confused on how to go about starting a task, much less getting it done. I lead a busy life, as everyone does, so my life has come down to an extensive to-do list full of tasks that will help me improve my life and trying to find the hour in a day to squeeze them in. The high standards these lists set are often impossible to reach, and leave us feeling unproductive and incomplete.

Of course I want to be the girl that has everything together: the girl who always has a smile on her perfectly made-up face, the girl who’s surrounded by a large group of best friends, who has time to get all A’s, join clubs that she’s passionate about, work and still have a social life. But sometimes, she just feels impractical and these lists, with all its unchecked boxes makes me feel that much further from ever reaching that girl.

That’s why, when I stumbled across this Darling Magazine article, I was immediately inspired because the author was able to find a solution to a problem I was suffering with too.

“To-do lists get me in trouble, especially when the tasks get more abstract and far-reaching than “answer emails” or “buy milk.” I begin getting overzealous with my list thinking that my to-do list ensures that those things will be done, leaving me one step closer to perfection,” the author wrote.

The idea of a “to-don’t” list inspired me to create one of my own. Here’s what it looks like:

1. I will never be the cleanest person. There’s no point in telling myself that I’m going to do a deep clean of the bathroom every weekend or wash laundry on a certain schedule. I will do those things when I get around to them.

Goal: to make more of an effort to clean as I dirty. What does that mean? That means that if I’m changing into my pajamas at night, I will throw the clothes from the day right into the hamper and hang my coat. It means that as soon as I’ve finished eating, I wash my dirty dishes rather than letting them build up in the sink.

2. I will never be the most outgoing person. I’m an introvert and that’s okay. To me, it’s more important to make the person I’m talking to feel heard and interesting, rather than to force myself to be the most sociable person.

Goal: to make other people feel that I’m interested in what they’re talking about and to always make an effort to improve my conversation skills.

3. I have no desire to take on an internship during the fall or spring semesters. I think it’s amazing when other college students are able to take on these opportunities during the semester, but with work, classes, soccer, clubs and trying to maintain a social life, I just don’t feel I have time to add an internship on top of it.

Goal: find a great internship during the summer months and make the most of it in hopes that it will lead to a job opportunity in the future. During the semesters, I will focus on my classes, my extracurriculars, my job and my social life with what little time I have left. But I will always make an effort to choose extracurriculars that will help me in my future career and put forth my best effort.

4. I’m not going to look perfectly put-together every day. It’s just not going to happen.

Goal: since I am a fashion major, I want to make more of an effort to develop my personal style.

5. I will never be the girl who works out every day, every other day, bi-weekly. I’m just going to have to realize that working out is not something I enjoy and I will not make the effort to write it into my schedule.

Goal: I will plan to make time for at least two of my three weekly soccer practices. I also want to find a class that I’m interested in at the gym and go at least once a week.

So yeah, there’s the list of things that I will no longer make a priority in my life. I highly recommend for you to make a to-don’t list in an interest of increasing your productivity and becoming happier with the person that you are. I will say, that I still make to-do lists, and yes they do still haunt me, but no longer will these things be forever unchecked boxes because I’ve finally come to terms with the fact that they just don’t matter to me.

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