My DON’T DO List

During these Covid days, it’s become popular to make to-do lists. Long ones. Maybe it’s because we’re at home so much, we need to fill in the time. Maybe we can’t tolerate clutter and things that are not working. Maybe it’s because we have so little control over our environment with the virus running rampant, we want to be able to control something. We all have different reasons to compose our to-do lists, but whatever the impetus, they seem to have become prevalent and when we don’t complete them, we feel anxious and inadequate. We put great pressure on ourselves to do everything on the list, but we can never get there because as soon as we check something off, something else appears. Or several “something elses” appear.

I was perusing my to-do list lately about house rand car repairs,
junk drawers and cleaning out closets, wondering why it was all taking me so long, when I stopped a moment and exhaled. I was really good at listing the things I wanted to do but what about the things that I didn’t want to do? What about the things I did that made me feel badly and caused me pain.

I put my to-do list aside, grabbed a new piece of paper and
labeled it “My Don’t Do List. I was surprised at how quickly the page filled up. 



1.    Make judgments about other people for the same mistakes I’ve made.

2.    Make negative judgments about myself.

3.    Fill in time with unnecessary activity.

4.    Judge myself for watching TV and not reading enough.

5.    Get angry in traffic.

6.    Get irritated with sales people on the phone who aren’t moving fast enough.

7.    Chastise myself for not immediately returning phone calls.

8.    Agree to show up at places I don’t want to be.

9.    Do things that make me unhappy like watching the news and criticizing other people.

10. Forget to sing and dance.

In my opinion, the idea of being productive is overrated. It’s like a dog chasing his tail. He runs around in a circle, he keeps picking
up speed but he never gets there and he collapses in exhaustion. Have you ever been to the dog races? The sleek Greyhounds chase a fake rabbit that runs just ahead of them on a track, they cross the finish line and they never catch the bait. I do my best to keep that kind of useless rushing around out of my life.

At this stage, as I navigate a world that is increasingly unpredictable
and often scary, the most important thing for me is to avoid anxiety. Nothing ages me more or causes my moods to somersault. Nothing hurts my heart and my head more than being anxious. On the opposite side of the coin, nothing feels better than breathing deeply, staying calm and being present. When I remind myself to quiet my mind chatter, slow down and practice being okay with myself, it doesn’t matter if I make a dent in my to-do list or not. My Don’t Do list is far more valuable.

Before I finish this blog, I just found a few more Don’ts to add to the list:

Don’t forget to write every day. It’s my form of meditation.

Don’t neglect the people who love me.

And most importantly:

Don’t lose my Don’t Do list.