Flipping the Script: Banishing to-do lists and celebrating accomplishments

by | Jul 20, 2023 | Her Story, Musings | 10 comments

Earlier this year, I decided not to make New Year’s resolutions, and instead, decided to make lists of things I wanted to accomplish.

For example; One of the things I wanted to do this year was to learn how to saddle and ride a horse.  I have yet to do that because of some significant hip issues and fatigue from my treatment.  However, the year is not over and I will not give up on this.

I also thrive on making lists.  The lists have become necessary for me to just remember what I need or want to get done because my short term memory isn’t what it was prior to my brain cancer treatment.  The irony is this;  I LOSE my lists LOL.  At any given time, you could enter my home and find various lists laying all over the house, or in my purse or coat pocket (along with loose change, wrapped dinner mints and dollar bills – but that’s a whole other blog post!).  Some are grocery lists, some are the things to do today and some are more long-term goals.  You get my point.  That being said, I found that the lists were starting to cause a bit of angst for me because I wasn’t always able to check off what I had put on the list (assuming the list was still in hand) and it made me feel like a total loser. I don’t like electronic lists either.  I’m much more tactile and there’s something about writing things down that helps me remember things better.

I’m still in active recovery from my brain cancer treatment and being impatient by nature isn’t helping things!  I’m tired and still a bit sore.  However, I have started taking medical-grade liposomal turmeric which I think may be helping my hip pain.  It’s too soon to tell so I’ll hold off on claiming a victory there.  I’m just happy I’m able to take it.  Turmeric supplements worked well for me in the past but were off the menu during chemo. I was told to wait 3 weeks post-last chemo, and that just happened to be this past Sunday.  So I’ve got 3 days under my belt now.

Because the lists weren’t working and we’re causing a bit of anxiety, I’ve flipped the script and am no longer writing down a list of TO DO’s.  Instead, I’m trying something new.   I’m keeping a list of what I’ve DONE during the day.  For example, today I’ve already cleaned up my kitchen including wiping down all the counters and the stove.  I’ve also, cleaned up my mud/laundry room and consolidated my laundry supplies.  I’ve started this new blog post…By doing this, I feel accomplished and the pressure to achieve a list of items is gone.  Instead, I just go about my day, do what I can, and keep track of it.  I don’t care how small the items are on the list.

For example, number one on my list today is “Fed the Dog.”  This may seem small and insignificant to some, but for me, it’s an accomplishment.

I think it’s a far more positive way to go through my day and life.  Focus on what I’ve already done and just build from there.  Before I know it, my list will include things like “walked 5 miles” or “cleaned out the garage”.  For now, “fed the dog” will suffice.

One last thing;  Despite what many websites on being organized say, you don’t have to do things in a certain order to accomplish what you want to do. For example, I struggle to stay on task and have short-term “remember(y)” issues (the computer keeps correcting the word remember(y) which is a reference to ‘Finding Dory’).

It’s a result of my brain surgery, but it’s also very common among many people, including those who haven’t had brain surgery.  So I decided that if I wanted to stop in the middle of something to do something else, that’s exactly what I was going to do! I don’t put pressure on myself to complete a task before I move on to another.

As John and I have always told our youngest son, Jack,

“There’s more than one way to solve a problem and learn something”.

As we head into this weekend, let’s avoid encumbering ourselves with lists of things to do and instead, go about enjoying our weekend and keeping track of what we accomplish.  Let me know if you decide to try the same and share the things you’re most proud of accomplishing.

About Me

In February 2022, I was diagnosed with brain cancer and it changed my whole life perspective. This blog is dedicated to my Journey through cancer diagnosis, recovery, and finding the humor in life.


  1. Richard Littel

    Ok I may have at times put something on my to do list that I’ve already to-done just so I can get a small thrill crossing it off the list. It is the little things in life that bring me joy. 🙂

    • Julie Kurtz

      Rich, you will be amazed at how good it feels to just make a list of what you’ve already accomplished! I’ve done far more by NOT making a list of to-dos and have felt so accomplished and happy!

  2. Mickey

    Love this…I’ve had things on my to-do list for over 5 years! Gotta celebrate the ‘dones’!

    • Julie Kurtz

      Mickey, DO IT! I promise you this; try just going about your days this weekend and just do the things you see in front of you. Then write them down. For example, after I enter this reply, I will write down “checked comments on blog and replied”. It’s amazing how much we do in a day and don’t acknowledge!

  3. Tracy W

    This is perfect!! I love it!!! I use Siri on my phone to remind me of things. “Siri set a reminder at 6pm for me to check the laundry… “ 6pm reminder comes up and I’m like, “Oh yeah! Thanks Siri!! Like I’m totally surprised by the reminder. Lol out of sight out of mind!!

    • Julie Kurtz


    • Terry McGill

      Lol. I use Siri too, but often times I find that I keep adding to my list of reminders and disregard them completely many times.
      Plus there are the times I go back to the list and question wth something is because I didn’t annunciate perfectly and she autocorrects it to something else. Btw, is Siri a “she”? Lol

  4. Cindy Priegel

    Love this. Prayers and hugs!!

  5. Don Evans

    I like your new approach to lists! It really takes guilt away from not doing what you should’ve done. Thanks for the idea!

  6. Terry McGill

    Love this idea, Julie!
    I like you, feel the same way when I don’t check off the items on my “to do” list. It just adds to my anxiety.
    I will give this a try! 😊


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