The Tyranny of the To-Do List

I love my lists. With lists, I am organised. I keep track of stuff. I get reminders to follow stuff up. With lists, I prioritise, categorise, annotate and schedule. I also remember what to buy when I go shopping.

I have electronic lists in Microsoft Outlook, Microsoft Project and an iPad app called Errands. I have paper lists on the fridge and on the rather nifty notice board made from wine corks just underneath the spice rack.

Lists are good.

On the other hand, lists are bad.

On weekday (more specifically, workday) evenings, my list calls to me softly: “You have things to doooooooo…”. Frequently, however, on said evenings I have little inclination to do much of anything at all; I’ve always been that way and can’t blame my age. My list contains a variety of things domestic, church things, worthy things, ncessary things and even things trivial. Yet no matter how high I set the priority or how noble the task may be, there are (many) times when I simply cannot face doing a job or undertaking a task.

And so I fret. I compare myself to others who, it seems, have an immense amount of energy and a baffling capacity for working all the hours God sends and being constantly, annoyingly, productive. This, dear reader, is not me. And I need to get over it and throw off the tyranny of the to-do list, jettison the guilt, do what I can in the capacity God gives me and just quit fussin’ over what don’t get done.

Sure, there’s no excuse for laziness, and I do need to remember that I’m serving Christ in a lost world and that helping bring His kingdom in and serving His purposes is rather important. But if I spend the time whittling and not actually being fruitful I may as well not be fruitful and enjoy it and relax instead. Tomorrow is a new day and I will, no doubt, work for my employer then return home and see what the evening brings. What it should not bring, however, is mental anguish over how much I’m doing or what’s still not ticked off on “the list”.

In the Bible Jesus says that the burden he wants his followers to carry is “light”. I don’t for a moment think that means every day will be a bundle of laughs and that no hard work is required. He did say, though, that what He asks of me is in stark contrast to being “weary and heavy laden”. So when I’m both heavy laden and weary it’s time to get on my knees, tell Him all about my list and see what He tells me to do – if anything.

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