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3 things to add to your to-do list

I live by to-do lists. If something’s not on there, it’s not getting done. Whether I will have forgotten about it without the reminder, or if I wouldn’t get the satisfaction of being able to check it off the list. I like that my to-do list can be a helpful organization tool to plan my day, and that it can also be a parking lot for items I need to do later and not worry about at the present moment.

Before becoming a mother, my to-do list was full of piddly little things like “call mom”, “do laundry”, and “catch up on this show.” Now as a mom, I don’t know if my brain would be able to handle the millions of activities, appointments, reminders, and chores I have on a daily basis without writing them down.

But while my to-do list certainly creates some order in my life, it can also be a point of stress. Watching a show on the couch at night isn’t on the list, so as I sit there, I think about how I should be up and productive. Rather than enjoying the downtime and not doing something on my list, I’m too busy thinking about being busy and doing things on the list. It's a vicious circle.

Lately, incorporating some mindfulness principles from yoga, I’ve found a few ways to better balance the helpfulness vs. the stress of a to-do list. Ultimately, these things have helped me still enjoy those times I’m not checking something off the list, but allowing myself to celebrate when I have accomplished something. I hope you find them helpful and please feel free to comment with things you’ve found helpful in your organized #momlife and beyond!

Find one day a week that isn’t overly busy, and have that day be your rest day where you can have one and ONLY task on your list—to “RELAX”—and remember that throughout the day you have nothing to worry about but to relax your mind and body. At the end of the day, check it off with pride of what you accomplished.

Add one item to your list every day that you can quickly check off first thing in the morning so that you can start off your day by already being productive and positive. Think something like “Brush teeth” or “Kiss my significant other” or “Stretch.” Something easy to do and positive to start your day with, and with that, giving yourself the satisfaction of checking something off your list every morning.

This one may be harder, but also add “Focus on breath” as a recurring daily task. Find a minute before you start your day to deeply breathe in and out, or in the middle of the day take some time to JUST BREATHE, or use this as a calming way to end your day. But in any case, find a few minutes of stillness and calm. While that usually might feel like something passive and unproductive, with it as an item on your list, you can now find it as a productive part of your day. And as you continue to practice this breath and mindfulness, you’ll realize more and more that it’s far more productive than just an item on your list!

While I used to religiously keep a paper to-do list to get that tangible gratification of checking or crossing something off the list, now I keep it all digital and on the cloud. I manage my to-dos in an app called Wunderlist that I've found incredibly helpful in keeping my to-dos in order, and maybe more importantly, keeping me sane. I have a personal to-do list (where I keep the above items), a house to-do list for everything around the house and for the kids that needs to get done, and of course the grocery list which I'm able to share with my husband so that we can both update easily.

And while I can't help you check things off your list (sorry!), I'm hoping my to-do list strategies may help you feel just a little more sane and a little less stressed.