How small objectives will get you through a bad day

The other day a newspaper had an article about ‘To Do’ lists. No doubt about it, they can help you organise your thoughts and prioritise things.

But at times they can also loom over you like a scary monster.

There may sometimes be days when the very act of getting from morning to evening can seem a monumental effort.

Add to this the requirement that you’ll also be crossing things off a long To Do list and you’re virtually certain to set yourself up for disappointment.


One thought I did like in the article was that there’s always sense in recognising that some items on your list can be actions, while others are simply intentions.

Good to have the latter, but not so great if they distract you from day to day priorities.

You may, for instance, want to learn a new language, but you also have bills to pay and wellbeing (your own especially) to take care of.

The language lessons can almost certainly wait. But the bills and wellbeing can’t.

So if things aren’t perfect for you anytime soon, please remember that it makes sense to focus on a very few genuine priorities.

For the rest, there’s always Google Translate.

8 thoughts on “How small objectives will get you through a bad day

  1. I used to frequently put ‘sort life out’ on my to do list. It was my friend who commented that this was simply beating myself up every day

  2. Try Dan Ariely’s Timeful app – it helps you prioritise and gradually learns your regular “To Do’s” so that you can fit other stuff around regular commitments

  3. One of the best bits of advice I ever got about to-do lists is that the only thing you should put on them are actual individual physical actions you can do, and which you can easily tell when they are completed. It isn’t useful to have ‘buy milk’ and ‘sort out my career’ on the same list. But it might be useful to have ‘buy milk’ and ‘look up local career advisors’ on the same list.

  4. Another list to make could be at the end of the day…like the happy list: things I actually achieved-list!
    I have been using the Myfitnesspal app to monitor weight loss and eating habits and a great sense of achievement fills me when I see how much exercise I have accomplished in the day (and over the past few weeks since starting)….a struggle to achieve at first but getting easier by the day…even when I haven’t done as much because I don’t feel so well. ☺️

  5. The next list I make will have two columns Action and Intention, so thanks for that.

    Right now I am reading a book called Getting Things Done, The Art of Stress Free Productivity by David Allen. I am wading through this on my Kindle but it has some interesting ideas about getting stuff off the RAM (is that the memory thing of a computer?) or do I mean the hard drive? Anyway you make and organise lists in such a way that it is de-stressing. Really it is for medium to high powered business executives but I continue to read it because I can see that it is also applicable to my over 60 no longer working outside the home but stressful anyway life. I get depressed AND I live in Venezuela! Have just discovered that I can read it on the Amazon Cloud in large letters on my PC so am going to continue (or start over?!)

  6. I try not to write ‘to-do’ lists. For the weekend I might write a ‘things I might like to do’list and I seem to get lets more done because it seems like my choice rather than a load of ‘shoulds’ ganging up on me. Sometimes I write a ‘things that I did’ list as I go through the day / weekend and it’s really surprising how long it can get, even when you’re feeling at your most useless and pathetic. Don’t focus on the big stuff, recognise all the little things you do, give yourself a break and try to stop judging yourself by anybody elses standards. Be kind and be hopeful. P xx

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