Posted by: Cathy | August 27, 2014

Coach Nibble: To-Do List Anxiety

Coach Blog 010114 This month’s coach nibble comes from David:

“When I am thinking about things that I need to do, anxiety really kicks in. I realize that this is because I am thinking of something that I need to do in the future, i.e. not in the moment. However, I MUST think of things like that in order to do what needs to be done and function. How can I avoid anxiety when I am thinking about things that I need to do. Having a set in stone plan seems like it might be an option, but I am not sure how well I function in that environment. Any ideas?”

If you’re getting anxious writing the list, you’re still projecting into the future. There is nothing anxiety-producing about writing a list of things to do. If you start to feel anxious, take a deep breath and say “I’m just writing down some words, nothing to fear here.”

It doesn’t need to be a set-in-stone plan if that doesn’t work for you. Just make a list of all your projects and then all of the actions you need to take for each project. As you complete one action, cross it out and go to the next thing. If there are deadlines, make a to-do list in your planner each week with the items for that week. Just focus on the next action, cross it off, and then focus on the next next action.

The to-do/action list is like a recipe for a dish. It’s not set in stone, but it spells out the pieces you need to create what you want to make.

If the normal structure of a to-do/action list puts you off, turn it into a word collage where you have the goal in the center and randomly write the actions in bubbles around it. You can doodle around the bubbles to make it even less threatening – turn them into clouds or flowers or cookies or whatever else makes it easier for you to work with.

A to-do list is just a tool to help you be productive, but if the construct of a list doesn’t work for you, experiment with other tools to help you accomplish the same thing!


Check out the coach nibble information page if you’d like to submit a topic for a future coach nibble. All suggestions are entered in a monthly drawing!


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