What’s an enough list? An enough list is a new way of managing our to do lists. Do you find yourself on the work / chores treadmill and it just never stops? Are you stuck in a trap of thinking that you have to get through it all, get through it well, all at the expense of your own self care and down-time? Then it’s time to find a new way. Try setting yourself the challenge of the Enough List.
The Enough List is a mini-behavioural experiment to see what it is like to let go of some of our self-imposed shoulds and must-dos. You may say you have to do everything on your to do list, but there’s a high chance there are some things which can wait, do less often, delegate, share, or even (perfectionists particularly, take note!) do to a lesser standard or skip entirely.
Constantly chasing a to do list which you never get to the bottom of can have a negative impact on our sense of self, undermining our self worth, confidence and our mood. The Enough List is a way to challenge the idea that we have to get through all this stuff in order to be a good parent, good partner, good employee, good anything!
The most likely reality for anyone holding down a job or bringing up kids (or - insert other time-consuming and necessary reality here - managing a household, looking after others in ill health, studying) is that there will always be a never-ending stream of emails in our inbox, projects which aren’t finished, chores which haven’t been done yet, cheques to write, DIY projects stalled and so on.
As we put ourselves under increasing pressure to do everything and achieve all the tasks, it’s fairly easy to make the leap from not achieving enough to not being good enough. This is particularly common in those with perfectionist tendencies. The really detailed lists we make can be helpful so we don’t forget the important things, but, equally, they can be a worrying reminder of everything we have to do, as well as everything we haven’t. The lists can be a double-edged sword. One way to step out of the fix could be to let go of the should-do and must-do tasks and experiment with the Enough List.
How to write an Enough List
It couldn’t be simpler. The Enough List is what is enough for today. Each day, make a list of three specific and achievable things which are enough for the day. They can be small things, but just ensure they are the most important to you on that day. That is enough. After that, any achievements can be considered bonus material. Work on the three things that matter the most, and keep your mind on these. What do you predict might happen if you try this? Do you worry things will fall apart, or that people will judge you for your falling standards?
Reflect on results
Commit to doing this for a couple of weeks before reflecting on your results. What did you notice when you organised your to do lists in this way? Did you find a greater sense of achievement? Perhaps greater satisfaction? Or even more enjoyment? Were you able to say you did enough? Did you have a greater feeling of mastery of your days? How did this affect how you feel?
In CBT therapy, one of the keys to emotional change is changing what we do, to change the way we feel. Ali Binns works as a CBT therapist in Bath and supports clients to find ways to get unstuck and improve their mood. If you are looking for CBT therapy in Bath, you can get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org or using the contact form under Contact above.