Letting Go of My To-Do List Life

You may have caught on that I have an organized-in-theory kind of life. And one of the organized-in-theory parts of my life is my to-do list. I may have To-Do List Syndrome or Disorder or Disease. I make to-do lists too often, and I don’t do the things on my to-do lists enough. I’m simply not as disciplined as I’d like to be.

(For instance, writing this blog post is on my to-do list. And as soon as I finish, I’m going to make a big line through this task and smile happily myself. Then, in about four days, I’ll write this on my to-do list again… 🙂 )

Recently, I’ve a busy little bee, trying to make enough honey for everyone and everything. School has been weighing on me lately. I have exams to take, reading to do, videos to watch, piano practice to complete, quizzes to study for…

And the list goes on.

The list is never ending. I feel you. There’s always more to do. As soon as you feel satisfied because you finished a big job, you realize there are six more “big jobs” to do. Isn’t every job a big job? Why can’t a task take five minutes instead of five hours?

I don’t have the perfect solution to make your life less hectic, but I might have a reason why we’re so busy.

But we urge you, brothers and sisters, to excel even more, and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we instructed you, so that you will behave properly toward outsiders and not be in any need. (1 Thessalonians 4:10-13 NASB)

For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order: if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either. For we hear that some among you are leading an undisciplined life, doing no work at all, but acting like busybodies.  Now we command and exhort such persons in the Lord Jesus Christ to work peacefully and eat their own bread. (2 Thessalonians 3:10-12 NASB)

It’s good to have work to do! This is what gives us purpose (and food) in life. If you have too much time on your hands, it’s easier to give into sin (like gossiping). God graciously gave us work so that we wouldn’t be bored at home all day. He gave you work to do so that you could have food on your table and a roof over your head. It’s probably easy to daydream about a long day at home with nothing to do if you have six kids running around your home and an endless list of household chores to complete; but a lifestyle of relaxation would become boring fast, and you’d surely get depressed and feel purposeless.

I may have mentioned my last semester and how much free time I had. My to-do list lifestyle was at rest, and I had a lot of free time. My assignments were easy, and I had less things to do. I had time to browse the Internet for three hours (which wasn’t a good thing). When you have three hours to spend online, you feel bored with life and purposeless and guilty because wasting your life online is not wise.

However, that’s only one end of the spectrum. What about the other end?

I think most of us give ourselves too many things to do. If you’re anything like me, you shoot high…and end up low. I set so many goals for a day, and I only end up meeting a few. Then I feel like I’ve wasted all of my time (and usually I have wasted a chunk of it) and that I’ll never get anything accomplished.

It’s hard to find the balance between too many goals and not enough goals. But you’ll find it. There is a balance between dull and chaotic. It may take time to find it, but it’s there. (By the way, setting 150 goals for yourself is too many, but 15 is totally possible.)

To-do lists are not evil. In fact, they can be incredibly helpful. Checking off a task brings satisfaction and happiness. Just remember that making your goals too important is sinful; and not making Christ your #1 goal is, too.

God gave us work for a reason. We struggle with it because of sin, but it keeps us busy. You can choose to view it as a gift from God. Working gives us purpose, but working ourselves to death is silly. Set some realistic expectations for yourself, and don’t cry yourself to sleep because Task #107 didn’t get completed. You’ll definitely sleep better if you shake it off and try again tomorrow.

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