How To Remove Anxiety From Your To-Do List

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The thing about the to-do list is that it can be a little overwhelming. For some of us, it serves as a motivational tool, a way of 'downloading' our thoughts and putting them into list form, which can be quite therapeutic and can help us work in a flow state.

But when a to-do list grows out of control, it can be pretty daunting. Procrastination can start to have a play, and the tool can be made almost redundant.

In this post, we are going to address the anxiety that can come from a to-do list, and we are going to drill down on how to eliminate it. The main places anxiety seems to seep from is procrastination, overwhelm and fear of failure.


So first of, let's look at procrastination and what it truly is. What is procrastination at its core?

Procrastination is merely resistance.

You are resisting something and therefore do anything other than what you are avoiding (resisting). So to get rid of the procrastination element, we need to look at what it is you are resisting.

The Task

First look at the task at hand.

Do you need to call that sales prospect?

Do you need to create a post for Instagram?

Do you need to go to the shop to buy something for the business?

Let's take calling the sales prospect for this example. What is it that you are resisting?

Are you scared that they will not sign on?

Are you concerned that you do not have the confidence or knowledge to deal with their questions?

Do you fear to speak to someone on the phone?

Once you have acknowledged the resistance, you can look at removing it.

Break It Down Now.

Break down the task into such small parts that you are not intimidated by it.

So for this, let's take the example of the Instagram post. Think about all the little and less intimidating parts of creating an Instagram post:

Research/ think of the idea for the post. Do you want it to be a quote, an image, an informational design, an illustration?

Think of meaning and purpose behind it. Do you want to inspire, educate or entertain?

Outline the points you want to make in the caption.

What hashtags will be representing the image?

Drill Down Further

You can break it down further:

Let's say you have chosen an image to inspire.

There is taking the image.

Editing the image to fit your theme and feed.

The whole idea here is to make the tasks seem so small that you can SO easily do them.

So that is how you deal with the procrastination. Identify the resistance and break it down into minimal action steps.


Now, what about overwhelm?

When the to-do list is so long, where do you start?

Again, look at it in a minimalist way.

The Minimalist Way

Pick the top 3 things that will move your business forward, or will hinder your business if you do not execute them soon.

Those three things are the ONLY things you NEED to get done today. Anything else is a bonus, but your sole focus needs to be those three things.


Finally, failure. You cannot fail if you never start, right?


Your fear of failure or lack or perfection is stifling you.

Perfection Does Not Exist

Perfection is not real; it does not exist.

Failure is part of learning and development, and although it can happen, it is there to serve you to overcome and uplevel.  Even with that said, failure is not something that comes up all the time. So get that out of your mind. The thought itself is not serving you.

Get Started

The best thing you can do and the best advice is to simply start. Set a timer. A time that does not feel scary or large to you. For example, 5-10 minutes.

Give yourself permission to take a break after that time if you need it. But nine times out of ten you will find yourself totally stuck in the task, and you will not feel the need or want to stop.

Sometimes you just need to get out of your own way and get stuck in!

We hope that this has helped you take away the anxiety that can come from a to-do list. As we said, when used correctly, to-do lists can be excellent tools for getting organised when life gets overwhelming, but it is imperative to identify and remove the resistance. If you are feeling up for creating a to-do list that will serve you, our post '4 Lists To Make For A More Organised Life' is a must read!

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About the author

Chloe Slade is the Marketing Manager here at Cone and focuses on creating content that brings business and lifestyle together. Chloe is a keen makeup lover,  foodie and loves to work from luxurious destinations.