Get Inspired Mondays, Writing

Sometimes, Just Writing the To-Do List is Enough


It was a jam-packed weekend: Good things. Fun things. Sunburned things.

It was also the weekend I planned to tackle my To-do List. Life has been busier lately, and the oft-neglected LIST was growing.

And growing.

So, Sunday afternoon, when things finally started to bubble along at a more relaxed pace, I took out my monstrous list, uncapped my handy red pen, and then

promptly shoved them back into the junk drawer.

Instead, I found a sweet spot in the shade (“Sunburned things,” remember?), and read, and read, and read. It was positively spa-like.  Only in place of fruit smoothies and Enya, we had hotdogs and the Masters. So, same/same.

When I once again pulled out paper and pen later that night, it wasn’t to attack the list, but to write down new story ideas that had seeped into the cracks which were no longer preoccupied with have-to’s and must-do’s. I slept soundly. I dreamed deeply.

This morning I started a new list. Item #1 says, Write new To-do list, and it already has a big, red, fat check mark. I feel accomplished, I tell you.

Oh, and so far there’s no Item #2. We’ll see what the day brings.

The old list was ridiculous — its length assured its failure. I remember the important things, anyway. And as for all of that other stuff which somehow crowded onto the lines? Well, I imagine those tasks will present themselves again, if necessary. Most likely there will even be a special messenger for the job; “Mom, did you ever buy that copy paper?!”

The point is, it will all eventually get done.

It’s true that sometimes Mondays need to be dominated. But other times, they need to be slipped on like those skinny jeans hidden in the back of your closet; One wiggle, one shimmy (one check mark) at a time.


This post was part of Get Inspired Monday! — a series created to help you dig into your week and find inspiration in unexpected places.

On Tap April 18th: Interview with poet and writer, David Budbill

*Find me on Twitter @amandahoving

32 thoughts on “Sometimes, Just Writing the To-Do List is Enough”

  1. Hi Amanda,

    I know what you mean. I’ve been working on edits lately (and neglecting blogging, tweeting, WIP, 1kwordchallenge, etc.) and was feelingt guilty for a little while at not being able to keep up with everything. And then I cut myself a break and realized that’s ridiculous. I’ll get to it when I get to it and that’s okay.

    Happy week!



  2. I live off of “to do” lists each day I start by going over what I have done and what must be added. I am never able to complete the entire list before I start a new one thanks to assignments for classes. But, I am okay with that. The list is more of just a reminder and a way for me to keep my life together in one place instead of fluttering around on a bunch of different papers and sticky notes.


    1. Yes, the list is not inherently evil. 😉 What is evil, is the crazed person I become when I’m a slave to the loooong list. I think shorter serves me so much better. I need that feeling of accomplishment, and not, “Holy cats, there’s still 51 more things to go…”


  3. See how procrastination can sometimes be the catalyst of creativity? I’m glad you took time for yourself to recharge and dream up something new. To Do lists are overrated anyway. Story ideas are NOT overrated, so, time well spent!

    Happy Monday! Here’s to a low-stress week, if we’re lucky.


    1. I think the act of tossing that first list was cathartic — I’ve had such a productive morning. Yes, story ideas are lovely…especially if they are taken to the next level. Here’s hoping~

      Thanks, Maura. Have a great week!


  4. Especially on gloomy, overcast days like today in this neck of the woods. But I’m like Alexandra. Today is one of those days I have to get it done. So overextended…


    1. Good luck with your projects today Jacquelin and Alexandra! Sometimes, there’s just no getting around the busy-ness, but I hope you’ve scheduled some reward time in there at the end of the day.


  5. Same kind of weekend here, too (even my blog today addressed it from a different angle). My list is impossibly, ridiculously long, as well, but I agree–it will eventually all get done (and if it doesn’t then it wasn’t that important anyway!). Great blog, great reminder & glad to know I’m not the only one!


  6. I love the writing part of to-do lists. Writing is soothing and thinking about how industrious I will be makes me feel totally fabulous.

    My favorite thing to do when writing lists is to break each thing down into several parts. That way, I don’t get to just check off one thing. I check of THREE things! So, instead of “DO LAUNDRY” I write “PUT LAUNDRY IN WASH” “PUT LAUNDRY IN DRYER” “FOLD LAUNDRY”. Ta-da! Three accomplishments when most people only feel they have achieved one. I feel like I’ve won something. I’ve beaten the system. Take that, laundry!

    My other trick is to use colorful pens. Nothing makes a to-do list happier looking than mixing purple, turquoise, green, and orange on a page.

    If I can trick myself into it, I get a lot more done. (Or at least, feel good about myself at the end of the day!)


  7. I like your simplicity here. Sometimes just a little organization is what we need to feel free again, which sounds backwards, but it’s not. Ha! Good luck with your to do list. I finally have a week off and used it to attend a writing conference and now it’s up to me to keep to my to do list and catch up on some writing. Might need to have a moment or two in the shady spa-like world of reading as well. Although, I’m choosing the shade because I’m LITERALLY allergic to the sun. I like it, it doesn’t like me, at all. lol. Happy writing!


    1. Ouch — sorry to hear about your allergy. I’m sure that makes things difficult sometimes.

      Yes, it was nice to kick back. But, like I said, all the things that need to get done, will (eventually) get done.


  8. I’m glad you recovered from the new direction my site took over the weekend. Somebody asked me if I would do the Tom Cruise Risky Business scene next. You’ll be happy to know that I said no.


  9. Today was probably the best day to hear such a thing. Because the blog post I’d originally intended for today was all about how drained I felt with all I had to do. Perhaps I merely need a new To Do list…


  10. The To-Do List, the eternal To-Do List. I love your idea of getting rid of it and starting a new one. And you’re right. Length is key. I try never to put down more than four things.

    And reading? You read this weekend? I’m totally jealous.


  11. I have a real love-hate relationship with my To-Do lists. They keep me focused, but at the same time they weigh me down. I try so hard to keep them down to a reasonable size, then, before I know it, my ambitions get the best of me.

    I think you’re on to something, trusting that you’ll remember the important things and the rest will just fall into place. I’m in a much better state of mind when I don’t let the lists hang on me, and surprisingly, those little projects do get done — even without the worry.


  12. I tend to write to do lists and never look at them again. I suppose most of the things get done, maybe because writing the down put them in a mental queue. I think the important thing is to differentiate between what is really a need to do item and what is just something I should do. I can avoid the shoulds for a very long time. 😉

    I’m glad you had a day to shove the list in a drawer and entertain your muse. 🙂


  13. Lists think they own us…I’m glad you showed your list who’s boss!

    I’m a list person because there’s so much to get done, I’d never remember everything done. It is nice to break free from the have-to-do’s to read/relax/do absolutely nothing.


  14. Hi Amanda.. Yes, I’m late to the show, but wanted to say that I enjoyed this post and that I get way too caught up in to-do lists. You make such a great point that the extraneous stuff that seems to get on those lists always re-presents itself, if necessary. I love that you started from scratch – and more importantly – that you let go of the stress of what was on your list, which opened so many possibilities to creativity. Reading is such a glorious way to rejuvenate. I’m going to a book festival this weekend and expect to return quite refreshed and rejuvenated, myself. Thanks, again, for sharing!



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