The Tyranny of the To-Do List – Part I


Are you someone who makes To-Do lists, in an effort to look busy and accomplish as much as possible? Do you know others who fit this description? When we lead such frenetic lives, rather than accomplishment, sometimes what we really get is a heart attack.


There is no doubt about it. We are a “can do” society. We value those who produce in vast quantities at lightning speed. Sometimes though, “can do” becomes “must do,” and “must do” can have some unpleasant consequences. For one thing, people who “must do” things, as opposed to “wanting” to do them, often find ways to subconsciously sabotage themselves, just to take the pressure off. For another, they short-change their families and themselves.


When you are compulsive about how much you “have to” accomplish every day, you sacrifice spontaneity, creativity and the joy of everyday living. Your children grow up largely without you, and you can’t kid yourself into thinking that a few minutes of so-called quality time can substitute for generally not being there at all. (Well, you “can” kid yourself, but you won’t be truly happy with the results.)


Compulsive doers also run the risk of actually reducing their productivity. Psychologists who specialize in stress management report compulsive doers make more mistakes and are more prone to physical illness. They are called “Type A” people, and they do make more mistakes and are more prone to heart attacks than the rest of us. We also know that stress-related accidents in the workplace are increasing at a dramatic rate. So, how do you break out of the programming that drives people to force themselves do too much?


Give this some thought over the weekend, and see if you recognize these situations. We will look at some solutions to this all-too-common problem on Monday. In the meantime, for your heart and mind, enjoy the weekend!