Inside: If you’re constantly staring at your To Do list, thinking it will never end, you’re right. It won’t. But in this post, I’m explaining why it’s important to put in on hold. And, the surprising truth about what happens when choose slowing down.
There’s always something else to get done. Whether it’s laundry, walking the dog, or staying up to finish the final touches of that work project, let me tell you a rarely acknowledged fact — the To Do List never actually ends.
We trick ourselves into thinking if we just do it, we’ll finally finish it all.
The thing is, we aren’t all the Energizer Bunny™. We don’t have endless energy that lasts for days, weeks, or even months. At some point, we crash. And we crash hard.
We spend entirely too much time trying to do everything when sometimes the most important thing you can do for yourself is slow down
The Curse of the Endless To Do List
Go ahead. Take a look at that To Do List you made. Even if the task themselves are different, does it resemble something kind of like this?
- Load the Dishwasher
- Finish Work Presentation
- Pack Lunches
- Make Dinner
- Finish painting living room
- Clean out Garage
I could keep going, but I think you get the picture.
Let me ask you something. Is there anything on this list that helps you grow as a person? Is there anything that sounds like loads of fun? Do you see anything that jumps out as an incredible opportunity you just can’t pass up?
No. There isn’t.
And we wonder why we’re so tired at the end of every day, every week, every month?
That’s our curse. We focus so much on the things that need to get done, that we often forget about the thing we need most.
We need break, a breather, or something fun.
Why the To Do List Never Ends
We constantly make dirty dishes. We wear clothes every day, which piles up the laundry. The dust always finds a way to settle.
So goes life.
There is always something else that requires our attention.
Our lives become increasingly complicated as we get older. We focus more outside ourselves and our priorities shift with every new “life stage.” It doesn’t matter if we build large families or small. Things always cry for our attention.
And make us feel guilty.
Oh, the guilt of the pile of dishes in the sink, clothes strewn across the floor, and dinner boiling over on the stove when you’ve got company coming in an hour. It consumes us. And don’t forget the shocking realization that a spotless house and perfect Suzie Homemaker life are a lie.
And you panic.
Your heart races as you scurry around the house, tossing dirty clothes into closets and shoving dishes in the dishwasher. You search your fridge and freezer for anything that could resemble a “good enough” dinner for the friends you only see once a month.
All the while, you’re cursing yourself for not being better.
You wonder why you aren’t a better wife, a better mother, or just a better human being.
The Trap of the pursuit of the “Perfect Woman”
We hate to admit we need help even more than we hate to admit we need help. But let me describe the societal view of the “perfect woman”:
- Her house is always spotless and looks like a magazine spread
- She has a beautiful body, with perfect hair, teeth, and nails at all times.
- Her fashion sense is always on point.
- She is always cheerful and happy.
- She has perfectly clean, happy, and polite children.
- Her husband wants for nothing. She always anticipates his needs.
Now here’s a description of what this “perfect woman” spends every day doing:
- Cleaning every nook and cranny of her home, possibly multiple times a day
- Cooking a gourmet dinner while simultaneously making the kids lunches
- Working out to keep her beautiful body beautiful
- Putting a smile on for everyone and never showing a crack in her makeup
- Perfecting the perfect words to say in any situation
- Managing everyone’s schedule, and making sure the kids have their homework and her husband has his briefcase.
And that doesn’t even begin to cover the “perfect women” who have careers on top of all that.
Society Tells Us to Be Perfect.
It’s our job to insist we be human.
The best women I know don’t fit the mold of the “perfect woman.” In fact, many of them don’t even come close. They have dust on their shelves. Dirty dishes don’t always make it into the sink and clothes don’t always make it into the hamper. But, they couldn’t be happier.
Do you know what they do have going for them?
- And probably most important — Balance.
And there’s one thing that these women do that so many of us don’t.
They make slowing down just as important as their to do list.
That Surprising Truth About Slowing Down
Recently, we attended the Orchid Festival at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, PA. Even if you’re not a plant enthusiast, gardens are such a great place for calm. You can’t help but pause and admire the color and beauty around you.
Those orchids reminded me that there is more to the world than a To Do List.
There are places to be explored.
There are new things to learn.
Orchids have the ability to stun you, because there’s always a species or color you’ve never seen before, even when they’re all gathered in one room. In many ways, they remind me of humanity.
Every single one is different, but they are all beautiful in their own right.
When we take the time to stop and see it, we discover our own beauty. We discover our own strength. We discover what’s really important.
And we find a way to let the to do list go, even if it’s just for an hour or two.
The Hidden Benefits of Relinquishing Perfection
As a DIYer, I’ve come to find the beauty in the imperfections of my projects and my home. I’ve discovered the joy of creating something with my own hands.
Sure, I could just go to HomeGoods and buy candlesticks, a spring wreath, or a new sitting chair.
But if I had done that, I wouldn’t appreciate them.
Not like I love the candle holders I made out of table legs. Certainly not like I love the spring monogram that brightens up our front door. And I never would have had the courage to re-upholster a beloved hand-me-down chair just to see if I could breath some life back into it.
Relinquishing that need to be perfect opens our world up to endless possibilities.
It allows us to:
- Expand our creativity and personal growth
- Restore balance in our priorities
- Boost our energy and drive
- Appreciate what we have more
And most important of all — we actually live the moments we want to remember for a lifetime.
All because we can focus our attention on those things, instead of our endless To-Dos.
Give yourself permission to slow down. Schedule time to try something new, whether it’s wandering through a garden, doing a craft, meditating, or something completely different.
Find what helps you relax.
Remind yourself that you can take a break.
Remember that slowing down won’t kill you.
When you start to feel the guilt of the To Do list that never ends, breathe.
Check out my post on the Hidden Benefits of Bullet Journaling, which is one of my favorite ways to keep tabs on my priorities and make time for what’s important.
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