I love to-do lists.
I have a to-do list in Google Docs for every day of my life—weekends included—for the last three years. They help me stay on top of everything I commit to, of course, but more than anything, I love the satisfaction of crossing something off the list.
(See how exciting my life is?!)
But I read a post from Jess Lawlor a few weeks ago that offered an interesting new perspective on my beloved to-do list. In it, she outlined a concept she termed “A Reverse To-Do List”.
I absolutely love this idea.
The problem with to-do lists—if I must admit that there is one—is that they don’t highlight my priorities (or what should be my priorities) and they don’t often force me to consider those things I shouldn’t be doing—those things that are a waste of time or can be delegated or take away from more important things, like my relationship with my husband or finally writing that book.
Jess says: “So, in 2015, I said, ENOUGH. Something has to give. In order to be my best self, I need to DO LESS.”
Too often, I find myself exhausted and irritated because I said “yes” to everything. I packed my to-do list full. And I don’t tend to do my best work or be the most fun person to socialize with when I feel overwhelmed and stretched thin. Saying “no” to certain things isn’t about missing out; it’s about making sure that you’re all in for the things that matter.
So, what’s on my Reverse To-Do List?
– Going out socially on weeknights (not including Friday)
– Any new copywriting projects
– Writing assignments that don’t pay
– More than 3 social events in one weekend
– Any new courses, eBooks, or products related to business or personal development
Much like any other to-do list, these reverse to-dos aren’t set in stone—they can and will change as my life does (and I’ll likely add to it, too), and I may make exceptions. For instance, I’m actually going out to dinner tonight with an out-of-town friend I only see a couple times a year!
But by being clear about what’s on my Reverse To-Do List, I make more room for the stuff I really want to do—including seemingly obvious stuff like sleeping and paying attention to my husband. But mostly sleeping.
Though I still worry about disappointing people or fear missing out on some amazing opportunity or experience, I know that my ultimate priority has to be me—preserving and maintaining my mental health and energy, so I can be and do my best at whatever I do choose to commit to.
What about you? What can you start saying “no” to?