Giving up on To-Do lists

I’m having a hard time with to-do lists. I feel like such a failure if I don’t accomplish the things on it, and I usually don’t. So I’m giving up on them. I’m going to write “I Did” lists instead that list all the things I actually did do. To-do lists are bad for mental health, at least for me.


I’ve been writing “to-do” lists for years. Every night right around bedtime I pull out all my important papers and make a list of whatever can be done the next day. The list varies from about 5 things to sometimes as much as 10 things including calls I need to make, places I need to go, forms that need filling out, etc. I used to get real depressed when I didn’t do everything on the list that day. But then I realized that I didn’t need to do everything on the list each day, as long as I did 1 or 2 or 3 of them. That took a lot of pressure off me and I don’t get depressed anymore if I just do a couple of the things.


That’s a genius idea. I did list. I like it. I think I’ll do an “I did” list too. Very good.


How about an almost-did list? Or a should-have-did list? Both mine would be pretty long.


I keep a bunch of lists:

Role list: sub lists for each of my roles as husband, patient, son, tenant, car owner, pet owner, hobbies etc… These items get copied onto daily lists or my calendar
Daily lists for each weekday
Location/shopping: for groceries, online shopping lists
Calendar: for appointments or exercise time
Brain dump: quick list for stuff that isn’t necessarily urgent or even very important but should probably get done eventually
Bucket list: things that would be cool to do even if I can’t afford them yet.

Another thing which helps is to set an alarm for your phone for important tasks that absolutely should be done today. For instance I will set one today for paying my rent.

You also might have other short and long term goals in mind like buying a car or quitting smoking or going on a trip. It’s pretty easy to miss working on these or things on your bucket list if your caught up in the daily grind. Zig Ziglar had a pretty good goal setting plan which I actually used for planning my wedding and quitting smoking:
Write on paper (or in a word processor):

  1. the goal
  2. the obstacles
  3. who you need to work with
  4. what knowledge you need
  5. plan to overcome each obstacle
  6. what’s in it for you if you reach your goal
  7. deadline to achieve it

I usually only set about 3 tasks a day that I really want to focus on because a lot of unexpected emergencies come up in my life with family illness so I often have to shift my daily plans pretty quickly.

I have long-term goals, a budget through 2020, a meal plan and accompanying shopping list, and a note of what general chores I’d like to do on each day of the week (i.e. Monday: clean living room). But as for to-do lists that include all of the things I want to do, I just can’t handle it. Even putting a couple of things down stresses me out to the point that each task becomes insurmountable. I’m going to use my weekday cleaning goals as a suggestion only. I’m really struggling with depression and don’t get out of bed 99% of the time, so every little thing is a victory. Even if I just do a load of laundry, it means I got out of bed and did something. I’m listing little things like “Took a shower; went to IOP; went to grocery store” because they are huge to me. It’s not a matter of not having goals but a matter of sanity and of celebrating the little things. All I can do is live in the day-to-day. Right now, it’s what I need.


I know call it the “ta did” list kinda like “ta dah” cuz you did it. Idk I thought it was cute. I like it. It’s a really good idea to make the list of what you’ve accomplished so you can bolster your self esteem a little. I get the feeling you don’t give yourself credit for when you do accomplish things so this will be good to see it in black and white.

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I have never made a list. I find it silly.
I just wish to be healthy in the mind, sane

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To-do lists aren’t bad for mental health, beating yourself up for everything you could have done is bad for mental health. Maybe you could try writing more achievable to-do lists.

No matter how simple my to-do lists become, they stress me out. I agree that, in general, they aren’t bad for mental health. But they are bad for my mental health.

I do hope to eventually get to a point where I can make and follow them again. I like lists and organization, but right now, it isn’t what’s best for me.

@leafy I like “ta da” list. Cute!


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