Balancing personal needs with a to-do list can feel impossible.

Balance and the Dreaded To-Do List

Our To-Do List hovers nearby, unfulfilled and needy. It keeps us off balance.

Balancing personal needs with a to-do list can feel impossible.

Balancing personal needs with a to-do list can feel impossible.

It’s like a black hole, sucking time away from our personal needs. Each morning brings a day packed with hours, yet by bedtime they’ve evaporated through our fingers, and the list remains.

I might check off a few items, but the list never seems shorter. I could spend all day getting the have-to’s done and still end up with a nagging list just as long as when I started.

This list has supernatural properties.

Here’s the proof:

It unrolls like a magic carpet with no end. For every item we check off, two more appear like the mythological heads of the Hydra.

It manipulates time. Each item takes longer to accomplish than expected.

It has an evil invisible twin. It contains all the have-to’s we didn’t account for that suck up the day.

It absorbs your energy. Just looking at it makes you sink into a chair and hide your head in the crook of your arm.

It swallows creativity. You barely have time to stare at a screen after a long day, much less pursue a fulfilling hobby.

How can we meet our personal needs?

Getting rid of the list won’t work. It regenerates. Instead, we must neutralize its gravitational pull on our lives.

The solution: a delicate balancing act (plus a whole lot of determination).

Book 30-60 minutes each day for you – reserve time in your calendar and treat it like an important meeting, catching a plane, going to a doctor’s appointment, you get the idea. Nobody can touch it. This time slot is all yours. First thing in the morning, tucked in at lunch, whatever, but don’t put it so far off in the day that you fall asleep before it happens.

Resist the list.

Thirty minutes of dedicated “you time” a day for a whole week equals 3 ½ hours (a morning or afternoon work shift). 60 minutes equals 7 hours (close to an entire work shift). Not bad.

Still can’t squeeze it in? Consider itemizing your current down time–is it fulfilling? Trade out some of those minutes for a more meaningful activity. In the end, it’s all about taking care of yourself.

Oh, the things you could do. I’d love to hear your plans!

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