My wife, Fiona, works as a music therapist for two charities — in a school for three days a week, and usually in one or two homes on the other days. She composes, and she’s finishing up a book. She also does a lot of work for our church, and runs the house. She always has a hundred things to do, so she nearly always has a TO-DO list on the go.
And that can get a bit exhausting. There is something dispiriting about working your way down a list of jobs, having to add new ones as you go, and finding you have more things left to do by the end of the day than you had at the start.
Sometimes, of course, things on the list just don’t get done — and that turns out to be OK. Not everything that makes it onto the list actually needs to happen. A card that doesn’t really need to be written, a room that doesn’t really need hoovering, and so on. But those things tend to hang around on the list indefinitely: not getting done, but still lurking there, part of the cloud of obligations.
Not any more! Now Fiona has a TO-DON’T list as well as the TO-DO list. When she decides not to do something from the TO-DO list, she crosses it off and writes it on the TO-DON’T list. It’s a surprisingly refreshing thing to do, a feeling not too different from actually finishing a job and crossing it off the list.
I recommend it!