I loved lists. Absolutely loved ’em. So during my time at university, when I had to commute to lectures in Nottingham from Birmingham; I had shifts at work changing every week; meetings with friends and blog posts to do, I set up an Excel document to help me schedule. And then I added my to do list to it – but broke it down week by week. Then I did an hour by hour plan of each day. And a bit for what I ate everyday. And brushing my teeth. And losing weight.
Suddenly I had my entire life planned for and if I didn’t do one thing or my day didn’t go to plan, then I’d have a major freak out and hate myself. If I had a lie in, or had to cover a shift at work, I’d try to cram everything into the already over-planned next day. And my “to do” list was getting longer and longer and I was getting more and more stressed out.
People kept telling me to chill out and calm down about things but I could see everything I wasn’t doing – they were there for me to pour over, in the form of my lists, at the end of each day. And this was despite actually achieving quite a lot and being busy all day. It was crazy.
Last week, it got too much. This anxiety was stopping me sleeping. I’d lie awake thinking about everything I had to do until about 6am and then I’d finally fall sleep, “lie in” and fail to do more of my lists – making me even more stressed. If it hadn’t felt awful, it would have been hilarious with how ridiculous it all was.
Finally, I complained to my mum about how stressful I was finding everything and she was confused. I mean, I’d stopped university and was supposed to be chilling out and so how on earth was I so stressed? I told her about my lists and how they went on and on and I didn’t feel like I was achieving anything and she had a simple solution.
“Delete them.” she said, and I was stunned. Delete my lists?! It blew my mind. But after the initial feeling of horror, I thought about a life with no lists. To be able to take things at my own pace and not feeling pressure to do EVERYTHING sounded perfect. To actually be able to take life hour by hour!
So I raced upstairs and did exactly as she suggested. Without even a poof of evil looking smoke, I deleted them off my laptop and they were gone! I immediately felt better.
These past 9 days, I’ve literally been listless (ha) but so happy and relaxed and carefree. I’ve always thought that I liked being organised, and that it was a good thing – but I think it can actually really weigh you down and clearly it had taken over my life.
Going a bit more with the flow, and taking your time with life and tasks can obviously be amazing for your own well-being. My anxiety about how I spent my time has just sort of… gone. I’ve been having a few more chilled out days and I feel amazing. And I think this is how it should be – I’ve worked my butt off at university and I work hard when I’m at work (because I’m a lil bit of a perfectionist and want to be the best at what I do) but at home I should be able to relax and enjoy myself. I mean, life is for living! It’s certainly not for worrying about waking up and keeping to schedule so I can do 30 different things (20 of which I probably don’t even need to do).
And without my lists, I don’t feel behind or like I’m avoiding tasks, I just do them in my own time now and don’t stress about them. I feel like by deleting one thing from my life (a thing that everyone glorifies, past me included), I have transformed myself and my stress levels. Bloody amazing. No more lists for meeee!