Gunk of Low-Energy Living: undone to dos

Recently I posted I walk into a room and see a To Do list. The basic premise: Your environment isn’t neutral. It’s either giving you energy or draining your energy.

Which means when you’re in your home and all you see are undone items on a To Do list, your energy is being depleted.

Here’s an email I received in response:

I was wondering about your last post. If my house is a to do list, you suggested two options—change my view or attack the problem—then gave two approaches to the latter. Just wondering, how would you approach the former?

As a reminder, the former option was: Stop noticing and being bothered by the undone To Dos.

And while I said it was a feat harder than it sounds, I stopped short of offering a strategy for making it at least a little bit easier.

So if you want to stop noticing and being bothered by undone To Dos, where do you begin?

  1. Refuse to have it both ways. Paying attention to all your undone To Dos, but not doing them is lose-lose for your energy. Either stop paying attention or tackle the To Do list. You do yourself no favors by trying to have it both ways.
  2. Make the decision to let go. Just like you decided to put things on your To Do list, you have the power to take them off. Not now doesn’t mean not ever, but decide for today to let go of all those undone To Dos.
  3. Safeguard your attention and energy. Your attention and energy are precious resources. So long as you continue to give undone To Dos your attention, they will weigh you down and drain you physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. What you pay attention to and give your energy to is a choice.
  4. Choose your interpretation. What are you making your undone To Dos mean? Do they mean you’re lazy? Imperfect? Undisciplined? A bad parent? You get to decide what undone tasks mean. Rather than beating yourself up, why not choose an interpretation that’s self-compassionate—or at least neutral?
  5. Choose your focus. When you walk into a room, you can choose your focus. You can see the couch that needs to be reupholstered, cluttered bookcases, mismatched furniture. Or you can look through the lens of gratitude, noticing your favorite paint color on the walls and the smiling family photos. Both views are true. But only one is energizing.

Which is easier? To tackle your To Dos or let them go?

The latter is certainly more internal. And often not as simple as doing something once. That’s because:

  • Letting go is a process.
  • Choosing your focus with intention is a practice.
  • Taking To Dos off your radar is likely something you’ll have to remind yourself to do repeatedly.

Know this: As long as you continue to notice undone To Dos and feel nagged, guilty, and overwhelmed, they’re a drain on your precious energy. Which will you choose—to get them done or to let them go?

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