I’m someone who always refer to my To Do List whenever I have a chance. Yes, I like to be organized and well-planned (also to remind my forgetful self on what needs to be done).

But recently, I’ve been noticing this trend pretty often – there are so many items in my To Do List that I just cannot seem to complete all of them. So I end up pushing and delaying them by re-assigning the due date for each of the item.

After doing that, I start to feel bad and guilty. I’m not being efficient here and having a To Do List seems like making things worse……and I feel stressed up.

Then a good friend of mine came to me and asked “Why are you feeling so stressed up?”

I said “Because there are many things left for me to do but I just cannot finish them!”

And then she said “Why not just take a break and leave those things for some other time? Everyone needs rest and you certainly look very tired to me.”

That last line may seem obvious to all of you….but it wasn’t to me at that time. I was too engrossed in my To Do List! All I wanted to do was to complete more, and to be more “efficient”. And guess what, I didn’t end up being more efficient like I planned to. All I got was STRESS.

Stress led to many health issues – TMJ dysfunction, nasal problem, neck problem, posture problem, etc. One after another. And I’ve been going in and out of hospital for countless times. I then decided to do more research and BINGO!, my assumption is correct.  All the health issues (even though they do have some other possible causes) have 1 common (possible) cause – STRESS.

It’s amazing what STRESS can do to people. And now, whenever I think I’m feeling a bit stressed up, I will think of what my friend said to me:

Everyone needs rest in order to be more efficient.

To Do List is a wonderful invention. It is there to help us remember stuff and help us organize our life. But it is definitely not a tool to give ourselves more stress. Once I’ve realized that, I decided that I will still continue to use my To Do List (I’m using Springpad by the way), but here are few things that I will remember to do as well, which may or may not be applicable to you:

  • Only accomplish 1 medium task everyday, after work. If there’s an appointment (movie, dinner, badminton, gym etc), keep it to 1 minor task.
  • Set a reasonable due date. Don’t hesitate to push some less important tasks to a much later date. Only do those that need my immediate attention.
  • If I cannot accomplish anything or feeling too tired to do anything, don’t feel bad. Rest more, relax more and sleep early. I will need to feel energized the next day and hopefully, I will be able to accomplish more after that.
  • Be daring to have an open date for To Do List items. Meaning, no due date. It’s just there to remind you about the task.
  • Use To Do List not just to record things to be done, but also ideas and notes.
  • Always remind myself what harm can (and will) stress bring to my body if I don’t rest enough.
  • Spend more time with my family. This is something which will never appear in my To Do List but is equally (or more) important than all those tasks in the list. So why not, make it a default activity after work? 30 minutes a day is better than nothing. I won’t feel stressed up too (unless they start to ask me when do I want to get married?).

So if you are a To Do List user like me, always remember that it is a tool to help us become more efficient. But we cannot be efficient if we don’t have the energy to complete those tasks. And the answer to that is to have sufficient rest.

Even a car on a long distance journey, needs to stop once in a while to refill fuel and rest. And the faster you go, the more stops you need to make to rest the car. Otherwise, it’ll overheat.

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