Gunk of Low-Energy Living: tolerations

A To Do list…

  • Need backup system for computer
  • Bags of clothes for donation piled in closet
  • Call phone company about echo in phone line
  • Replace broken tile in backsplash
  • Overflowing junk drawer
  • Burned out light bulb in closet
  • Figure out how to use budgeting software
  • Clean out the garage
  • Recaulk bathtub
  • Get referrals for new babysitter
  • Organize photos
  • Clean out refrigerator
  • Get estimates for new furnace
  • Price new carpet for hallway
  • Fill out insurance paperwork
  • Find overdue library book
  • Cancel lawn service
  • Fix leaky faucet
  • Deal with mistake on credit report
  • Replace water filter

Do you know what all these undone To Dos have in common?

They are nagging energy drains.

And while these items may not be yours, I’ll bet you have your own list.

Things you’ve been meaning to do, handle, resolve, start, finish. Things you’ve been putting off. Things you feel guilty about not having gotten around to. Things you resent having to take care of in the first place.

Tolerations are very bad news

In my world, these things are called tolerations. And they are very bad news.


Because whether front and center or lurking in the back of your mind, the friction they create robs you of energy. Even worse, they distract you from what’s really important.

Believe me: While finding that missing overdue library book needs to get done, it’s not why you’re here and what your life is about.

What’s the big deal?

One or two of these tolerations taken by themselves seem harmless. So you need to clean out the garage and replace the broken toaster. It’s not like either of these is life or death.

But when these To Dos remain undone, they’re insidious.

They linger on your mind. They languish on your To Do list. They take up mental space and use emotional energy, whether you’re conscious of it or not.

And they build. A couple of tolerations become five. Then ten. They multiply, one reaching a tentacle out to form others.

Pretty soon you have dozens of these pesky irritations. Then dozens upon dozens.

I know this because when I finally sat down and counted, I had 342 tolerations in my life. Dozens had literally become hundreds.

Why this matters

Here’s why this matters: You can’t do your best work, you can’t contribute what you want to contribute, you can’t be who you want to be with these nagging, energy drains cluttering your mind and your environment.

Each thing you tolerate drains a bit of your energy. This means each time you see it, do it, or experience it, a little bit of your energy, enthusiasm, motivation, and power disappears.

A To Do list becomes toxic when it takes away your power rather than helps you get things done. Can you relate?