How My Daily To-Do List Reduces Anxiety

I’ve always been an organized person, but I didn’t realize that my to-do list could be a tool to manage the anxiety of my busy life. Instead of simply keeping me on track, it helps me visualize the work I have to do each day, and if you wake up with anxiety about having too much to do, a to-do list may be the answer to your struggle as well.

A little background on me: I am self-employed, and as such, have a number of projects going at any given time. I may do work for 3 to 4 clients and jobs in just one day. As my work started increasing (which is a good thing!) I found that my anxiety was spiking. I’d wake up in the morning with a racing heart, already stressed before the day even started.

While mantras help with this (check out some of my favorite self-doubt mantras), I realized that wasn’t enough. As a visual person, I’ve always needed to write things down when I’m overwhelmed. So one day, that’s exactly what I did—I wrote it all down, including when I thought I could get it done.

The Birth of the Weekly To-Do List

This is when my weekly to-do list was born. I keep it very simple, as you can see in my Instagram post below, and you can too. For me, I just need to see the tasks and their assigned days to feel at ease and in control of my workload.

I recently started including the days I plan to workout as well. This took away much of the second-guessing I would do each day. Should I go to the gym today? Should I just do yoga tomorrow?

Because my fitness schedule revolves around how much time I have available on any given day, adding this to my to-do list—planning to workout on my lightest workload days—I stopped playing the guessing game.

Now, my to-do list is one of the most important tools in my anxiety “tool-box.” That may sound corny, but anyone who struggles with this mental illness should have one of their own.

As I check items off the list, I feel accomplished and motivated to get more done, which is both empowering and relieving.