Making a daily “To Do List” is a habit I started right after college when I was in my early 20’s. For years I made these “To Do Lists” and I have always found pleasure in being able to cross things off a list once they’re completed. I think it’s the satisfaction of being able to look at the list at the end of the day and see all the things I have accomplished…It just feels rewarding. “To Do Lists” can be a great way to stay organized, set daily and weekly goals, and to help you stay focused, but overall there is one BIG problem with “To Do Lists”.
Even though I’m a big fan of jotting down the things I need to get done on a daily basis, I don’t keep “To Do Lists” anymore, and I haven’t for years. To me, the BIG problem with making a “To Do List” is that there’s a negative feeling around keeping a list of things you HAVE to do.
Instead of keeping a daily “To Do List” I now keep a daily “Want To List”. You might not think there’s a big difference between a “To Do List” and a “Want To List”, and truthfully there really isn’t. The difference between the two is perception. A “Want To List” makes me feel better about accomplishing tasks on the list because they are things that I want to accomplish… After all, it’s called a “Want To List”. When I first started using this simple renaming of my daily list I found it very rewarding and I noticed I felt better about doing the more difficult tasks on the list. Basically, a “To Do List” promotes a negative feeling towards your tasks, but a “Want To List” promotes positive feelings and gives you a better outlook on the things you need to get done throughout your day.
Here’s what my “Want To List” looks like…
Yes, I’m old school and like writing things down by hand on a piece of paper. I’ve tried making lists on my phone and using an iPad, but it doesn’t have the same feeling to me as when I actually hand write something. I notice when I hand write something I remember it more, and I feel more obligated and committed to get it done. My pen and pad of paper are always in front of me and with me at all times, so this makes it easy to stay on task. The other problem I found I had with using electronic notes was that I would forget to look at the list. And when I would open my phone and look at the list I would get distracted by everything else on my phone (email, phone calls, text messages, and social media). It was a total time killer for me, that’s why I stick to pen and paper.
Another thing you might notice from my list above is that I use my list for encouragement as well. Every day at the top of my list I write, “Every day is a precious gift from God.” This helps remind me that every day is a blessing and it’s a priviledge to have woken up and to still be alive in this world. On difficult days it reminds me that tomorrow isn’t promised to anyone and to use each day for what it is…a gift.
Also, at the bottom of my list I write down goals and other encouraging words that help keep me motivated and inspired. I change them around from day to day, but this helps keep focused and overcome obstacles. On today’s list I wrote…
- Under 40 List (It’s one of my goals to be on a 40 under 40 list)
- Get fired up! Make it happen! (Just a little motivation)
- Have fun! Visualize your goals! (I forget to have fun while I work at times, so this is just a good reminder)
- There’s NO loss in going for it (This reminds me that it’s ok to take risks and to go after my dreams)
- Everything you want is on the other side of fear (Yeah…I love this quote. It helps remind me that it’s ok to be afraid because it means you’re growing)
- Trust God…Be obedient. (After all, He is in control!)
- Be strong and courageous (This is from one of my favorite Bible verses, Joshua 1:9. The whole verse is, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” God actually commands us to be strong and courageous…pretty neat, huh?)
- Never give up (Some days are harder than others, but this helps encourage me to NEVER give up on my goals and dreams.)
I hope this post make you think about how you structure your daily “To Do List”. If you keep a “To Do List” simply try re-naming the list to “Today’s Want To List” and I guarantee you will feel better about working on things throughout the day. It’s simple, but it works. It might sound weird, but don’t knock it until you try it.
Do you keep a daily “To Do List”? Do you write encouraging words on the list to help keep you motivated?