When Your To-Do Lists Don't

By: Alison Znamierowski, IATG Contributor April 28, 2016



If you were to flip through any of my notebooks, you would find to-do lists muddled all throughout them—full of writing assignments, course readings, job applications, interviews, and chores. To-do lists can be great tools in a hectic life. They help me to stay organized and keep me accountable to everything I want to get done. But sometimes I write to-do lists from a place of anxiety, and then when I look at the list, I become more anxious thinking about everything I have to do!


These anxious patterns of thought that surround the idea of constantly “doing” something made me sensitive to how many times I think about “doing”—what do I have to do today? What should I be doing right now? What are you doing? What are we doing? (Is the word “doing” starting to look weird yet? Good, maybe it should.)


Why are we, as a society, so obsessed with productivity, with “doing”? Think about the things that we hold as positive attributes: productive, hard-working, motivated, determined, goal-oriented. I’m not going to deny that these are awesome characteristics, especially if they’re being used to catalyse something that’s really important to you. But what about these qualities: inquisitive, present, curious, open, spontaneous, alive, inspired? Where are all of the to-explore, to-create, to-enjoy lists?


Sometimes we become so focused on “doing” that we lose sight of the process of what we’re doing. We allow potentially important, insightful, interesting, inspiring experiences to simply become items on a list.


I’m not saying that we should burn all of our to-do lists (although, who knows, maybe that would be cathartic), but maybe instead of writing down our to-do’s, we could take five extra minutes in bed to visualize what we want our days to look like and leave room for spontaneous enjoyments and adventures. Maybe some days we could make to-enjoy lists instead. Maybe some days we go without any lists at all, and let ourselves just be, knowing that we are lovable, outrageously special, worthy, exquisitely flawed, and beautiful just as we are.


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Grab a pen and make a to-enjoy list for the week! Find something to enjoy every day and give yourself some time to simply be!


About Alison

IATG_Blog_Znaimierowski.jpgAlison Znamierowski graduated from Wesleyan University with a B.A. in Sociology. Her favorite activities include picnicking with friends, barefoot wandering, and engaging with spontaneous impulses for adventure. Her little corner of the interweb universe is here: nowastespace.org.



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