Do You Have a Not To-Do List?

About a month ago, I read a blog by Michael Hyatt called “Do You Have a Not To Do List?”  While the blog didn’t exactly fit my situation, I felt a little convicted about my overflowing to-do list.  After all, I am supposed to be de-busying my life!  Still, I am the queen of justification and explanation, so my self-talk sounded like this:  “I don’t have a real job now, so I have plenty of free time to do it all.”

That weekend, I sat down and scribbled a not to-do list.  Actually, most of it was in my head.  It was laughable.  Things like…don’t sit in the dance studio and wait on Hannah when I can be grocery shopping or taking care of other errands.  Really?  As if a few minutes chatting in the studio is keeping me busy.

Yesterday, I found myself complaining to Steve about something that I generally love.  When did this happen?  When did everything get so jumbled and rushed and “listed” that I began to see a love as a burden?

As God would have it, last night at church we took communion and had about 10 minutes of prayer time – something we had not done in that service for a few months.  As soon as I bowed my head to seek God, those words I’d whined to Steve bubbled up.  Deep down I knew – I have so many proverbial irons in the fire that I keep getting burned.  I am tossing all the to-do items around like hot coals – juggling more than I should.  Most importantly, I realized the things I like OK are snuffing out the things I truly love.

In fact, somewhere in all the “yes, sure I’ll do that’s” – I had lost sight of what I love most.

So, I resolved during that prayer time to make a not to-do list.  As I read last night – every time I awoke in the night  – and throughout the morning, I prayed, “Lord, lead me.  What have you called me to in this season?  What am I doing that is good, not great?  What new things do you have in store?  Are there things I may have to say no to some day because I’ve answered with a yes too often in the past?”

As I tried to sort this out – what stays to-do and what goes to don’t – God reminded me that I was neglecting my personal filter – the lense through which I use to view all decisions:  Will this make much of Him?  Does this choice glorify God or have God-glorifying potential?  It all boils down to…

What makes much of Him – not me?  After all, if I am making much of me – or anyone else – and not Him, my service is completely pointless.

I think to truly de-busy life, you have to make a not to-do list for each family member.  Everyone has to drop something.   Doing it for Hannah, Owen, and Steve was easy.  But, making a list for me today was incredibly difficult.  Having the tough conversations and pushing “send” on the “I can’t do this anymore” emails was emotional and painful because I like to say yes.  In fact, one of the emails still sits in my Draft folder.  I plan to push send today if it kills me:)!

What needs to move from your to-do list to your not to-do list?  Moving is never easy.  It requires lots of heavy lifting, reorganizing, and often sadness.  But, in the end, it’s almost always for the better – for you and for your family.  Happy list making:)


  1. Thanks for this message. It came at an appropriate need for me. I have been stretched deciding what to do. Between this message and God’s help, I have my answer.

  2. I am glad I could help, Sue:) Since making the not to-do list, I’ve still struggled with the things I said NO to…I find myself wanting to jump back in, help just a little bit, etc. Some things are just hard to let go. I, too, go back and back…what to do? Glad you know what to do now!
    I hope you’re enjoying retirement


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