August 5, 2015

Scrap Your To-Do List & Try This Instead.

to do list tattoo

If you’re anything like me, your to-do list is so long it has it’s own to-do list.

It’s so lengthy—so impossible to accomplish that you might as well include items such as:

  • Grow old before completing to-do list.
  • Burn inappropriate pictures and old journals so the kids never see them.
  • Pick out gravesite and/or urn.

And yet, a to-do list is essential for me. I keep mine on my phone, where I can capture important tasks quickly before they drip out of my brain and float into the ethers.

There’s also a satisfaction particular to checking an item off.

But I often feel drained when I look at my list, at the tally of All The Things. At all the adulting I should be doing. Drained, inadequate, and overwhelmed.

And at the end of the day, despite the satisfaction of having accomplished some of these tasks, when I glance at my list, my brain registers everything that I didn’t complete. All that still lingers and will, in all likelihood, continue to linger.

Several years ago, I came across some advice that shifted my thinking around my daily list. Creativity guru Julia Cameron, in her book Walking in this World, introduced the “Ta Dah List.”
To create a Ta Dah List, at the end of a day, you simply take a piece of paper and jot down all the things you’ve accomplished.

You can include the tasks that you find yourself resisting, as well as items that are more about being than doing—for instance, you might write down:

  • Meditated for ten minutes. 
  • Laughed hard at playground with my son.
  • Made it through Day Three of PMS without mauling anyone.

You can also include regular old things that you do every day but don’t often stop to notice—like brushing your teeth, making yourself a nutritious lunch, going to a yoga class. Doing the laundry… and putting it away.

Making a Ta Dah List shifts our energy to our accomplishments, to things we can feel good about. When I take the time to make a Ta Dah List, I feel the energy in my body shift. Instead of feeling overwhelmed, I often feel proud of myself.

It also keeps me mindful of how I spent my time.

The Ta Dah List also offers us the opportunity to see how very much we do. When I take the time to honor how much I’ve done, it often enables me to give myself permission to slow down for an afternoon or to schedule something fun. Other times it inspires me to tackle something else I’ve been putting off, because I know how good I’ll feel when it appears on my Ta Dah list.

It’s a quick, effective way of reminding myself that I do enough, and I am enough.





Buddhism vs. Speed: Busyness is Laziness, by Dr. Reggie Ray.




Author: Lynn Shattuck 

Editor: Renée Picard

Image: Rob and Stephanie Levy at Flickr 




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