Before you even open your eyes, you’ve already planned your entire day.
But once you get the ball rolling, you find yourself sidetracked by all kinds of unexpected obstacles.
The day comes to a close, and you’ve hardly put a dent in your to-do list. You’re left with a nagging sense of guilt—the worry that you didn’t do enough today.
Checking an item off your to-do list gives you such a thrill. So when you run out of time and can’t finish your list, how do you feel?
Many of us blame ourselves for it. It’s called to-do list guilt. Here’s how to deal with it:
Rethink “Productive” Tasks
If you were to imagine someone being productive, what would you see?
Most likely, you picture a person hunched over a desk, typing madly or scribbling on paper.
But that’s not always what productivity looks like. Sometimes, it’s responding to a few emails. It’s picking up a friend or family member who needs a last-minute ride. It’s taking an hour to rest when you’re exhausted and need a break.
If you’re doing something to better meet your needs (or the needs of those around you), you’re still being productive.
Realign Your Expectations
Take a closer look at the pressure you put on yourself. Challenge thoughts like:
- “I’ll never get through my to-do list.” Do you need to get everything done today? If you run out of time, it’s not a failure. It’s just a task for another day.
- “If I don’t finish this all today, I wasted my time.” Think about the distractions that interrupted your workday. Maybe you spent extra time cooking a healthy meal. Maybe you called a friend who needed support. These aren’t time wasters—they’re just as important as the items on your to-do list (and possibly more so).
- “I can do this on my own.” There’s no shame in asking for help. If you’re feeling overwhelmed at work, ask those around you if they can lend you a hand. If your home life is stressing you out, call a friend or family member for support.
There it is—at the end of the long day, you feel it. That stubborn voice telling you that you didn’t do enough, that some tasks were left unfinished.
You don’t need that guilt. You don’t want it. Let’s get rid of it.
Your value isn’t measured by the amount of work you did today.
Rather than calling yourself lazy, accept that you’re just feeling tired. Your body is telling you it needs rest. Don’t slog through that errand you wanted to run; give yourself time to take a nap.
Instead of blaming yourself, recognize that blame has no place here. Life is unpredictable. When you created that to-do list, you couldn’t anticipate all the last-minute issues that would pop up today. Try to show yourself the same compassion you’d show a friend.
Re-Do Your To-Do List
With all this in mind, it’s time to take another look at that to-do list.
Before, you might have seen it as an iron-clad agenda of tasks you must get through today.
Now, you can see it as a list of suggestions. If you don’t get everything done, it’s not a measure of your worth. It’s just the way things are.
To make your list more realistic, try adding a few other items to it, like:
- Check-in on a loved one
- Take time for yourself
From the team at Bare Body Sugaring in Winnipeg, we hope this article helps you shake off that to-do list guilt.