What to do When Your List of Things to Do Won’t Stop Growing

too much to do

Have you ever felt like there’s too much to do, but not enough time to do it?

Of course you have. Everyone has.

But I’m not even necessarily talking about the everyday stuff; groceries, cleaning the house, tasks from work, etc. Getting those things done is just a matter of organization. What I’d like to focus on today are the bigger, more important things. All of those dreams and goals and, “Oh, I’d like to do that” thoughts that have piled up in your mind over the course of time that you somehow haven’t gotten around to yet (but the groceries, cleaning, and work stuff somehow still manages to get done).

It can get pretty depressing when you sit down and think about that language you wanted to learn or the instrument you never seemed to make time to pick up. Maybe you have a shelf full of great books you’ve never managed to crack open. Whatever it is for you—and it’s probably many different things—it’s time to start working on that list.

At the end of the day, when you’re old and looking back fondly on how you spent your life, the everyday stuff won’t be what matters. Whatever it is that’s stressing you out at work or whether or not you pick up your dry cleaning on time next week won’t even be a blip on your radar. It’ll be the big things, the fun things. “I’m glad I took that trip to Europe,” you’ll think. Or, “I sure got a lot of enjoyment out of this old piano.”

overwhelmed

The point is, don’t get so caught up in the everyday that you forget to let yourself enjoy the more meaningful things in life. Here’s how to start doing it:

Whittle Down Your List, One at a Time

Right now, even as you read this, you have the power to pick just one thing from your list. It doesn’t have to be something big like a vacation, it could be something small like the book example from before. Pick one of those books, set it on your nightstand, and read at least one chapter tonight (or the equivalent of whatever it is you want to do).

The goal of this is to show yourself that it can be done, you can make time. Once you realize that you have a lot more freedom to do all of these grand and enjoyable things, you’re much more likely to start actually doing them.

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

How big of a deal would it be if you skipped a mundane errand tonight and got up 15 minutes earlier tomorrow morning to do it? Would the world come crashing down?

I’m going to guess the answer is no.

If your life is particularly hectic, start restructuring things so that you have some time for yourself.

Prioritize

What things on your big list can you do right now? What things must be deferred until later? Make a list of both and start prioritizing. You can start learning an instrument within 24 hours if you put your mind to it—you might not be able to take that trip for another couple of months.

The secret to all of this is that there really is enough time to do all of the big things you want to accomplish, but it’s up to you to make that time.