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Why I Quit Making Lists: Confessions from an Overachiever

quit making lists

I am a type A, first born, overachiever, ENFJ, Enneagram 3 person. If you know anything about those types, you know what a dangerous combination that can be! Along with all of that, naturally, comes making lists. I’ve made lists for as long as I can remember. I love making lists for things to do, things to accomplish, and lists to make in the future! You get the idea. I’ve used several different apps for list making and productivity. And no, this is not a sponsored post for one of those apps. A few of them were very helpful and I would highly recommend them if you’re looking for help with productivity. But in this post, I’m sharing all of the reasons why I decided to quit making lists.

My life worth was being measured by check marks.

When I was making lists for every single thing in my life, I put every item I could think of on these lists. I had things like:

I felt like each day was only measured by how many things I could get done from that list. But even though I had excellent, good things on that list, my self worth is not determined by my productivity. Contrary to what enneagram 3 people tend to believe about themselves, I do not need to perform and achieve in order to be valuable and worth of love. I am made by a Creator who loves me, and that gives me value.

I was rushing through my tasks.

Even though I could check off 10 things on my list each day, it doesn’t mean that they were each done in a quality way. For example, when I played a game with a kid, did I make sure they chose a game that wouldn’t take too long? You better believe it! Did I choose books with short chapters so that I could get them done more quickly? Sometimes! This is how my mind works. If I have a task that I need to get done, it will absolutely get done. I don’t miss deadlines and I’m rarely late. But in order to always make that possible, I have to make each goal accomplishable. While there is some value in that, it also means that some quality is lost.

I was always the student in school who was done with tests first. That doesn’t mean that I always had the highest score on the test, but I got done the fastest, with a pretty good score. Now, as an adult, that’s kind of how my whole life is. What can I get done fast? And of course, as a mom of 5, so much of my life is all about efficiency. But efficiency shouldn’t be my main goal in life.

Without a list, I felt like the day was a waste.

I’ve always had a hard time relaxing. Just ask my husband or kids! There’s so rarely a time when I just sit around or am just ok with not having something to do. Even if we are not working or getting tasks done, I need a plan for relaxing! When I’m not making lists, I have a hard time feeling like the day had value. And that’s so ridiculous! The day have value in itself. Spending time with your loved ones has value. Practicing a Sabbath rest has value. Although I’m not an expert at it by any means, I’m aware of the concept and I’m aware that I’m not doing great at it. We attend weekly worship and regularly fellowship with others, but I certainly do not have a good concept of rest.

Since I’ve quit making lists, I’ve tried to just “be” and see how it feels. To be honest, it’s not easy to just “be” and not be on my phone. What if someone sent me a DM? What if that brand email I’ve been waiting for finally arrived? But all of that can wait. Being present is what we all need.

I want to value quality over quantity.

As I’ve said, I kept rushing through my tasks. I had trouble lingering over bedtime or reading books. Just sitting with my husband on the couch was difficult for me. I decided to quit making lists so that I didn’t always have another task lingering over my head. Instead, I could spend as much time as I wanted reading books, and not worrying about what else needs accomplished for the day.

I also wanted to be able to recognize that just enough was good enough. My kids’ rooms don’t have to be perfectly organized. If I don’t organize my photos immediately after a vacation, that’s fine. Does that mean that some things fall though the cracks? Yep, it definitely does. But I’ve made a conscious decision to be ok with that. My keepsake items are less organized. My kids’ closets are pretty unorganized. And that’s fine. Just enough is good enough.

When I quit making lists, I started to discover what I should really do with my time.

When you read the title of this section, be sure to focus on the words “started” to discover. As my children are getting older, I’m getting more and more thoughtful about what I will do with my time when they don’t need me as much. They need me so much less now than when they were babies or toddlers; I know it’s just a preview of what’s to come. I want to make a difference in the world. And I want to focus on what’s really important. I want to focus on figuring out what I can best give to others. What are my gifts? I’m on a journey to figure it out. And I’m freeing myself from list making in order to give myself time and space to do that.

Should you stop making lists too?

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