A To Don’t List

Credit | Syda Productions via Shutterstock


Do you love making lists?


Well, I do. I always have a to-do list with me. Most times it’s written on my phone while at others it’s just a mental note. Sometimes it’s a reminder while at others it’s just a sticky note. The underlying factor being I’m always on the go with one task to follow the other. I do like the comfort of knowing that I have a list to fall back on if I forget though that rarely happens. But in the midst of all the mental notes, reminders and lists, each day in my life looks like an assembly line, activities to be done one after the other. Yes, my time is always filled with one or the other item on a to-do list leaving me with no chance to just be.


While the lists definitely help me but do they really?


If I can be completely honest with you, I wish for nothing better than the carefree life of a child. When it’s 2 am in the morning and a sleep deprived me is on the verge of a breakdown because my daughter just won’t stop crying or sleep as quickly as I want her to, I just want to run away to being a kid again and let my parents do all the grown-up things in the world. In those moments, which definitely are not among my best, I wish my list only had which chapters I have left to study or which subject I’m yet to start revision for. I don’t know when the list transitioned from what I need to study to cooking, packing, paying credit card bills, apartment maintenance, M’s fees to linking Aadhar to my accounts!


It’s all very confusing because if given a chance I wouldn’t probably go back in time. But being a grown-up, a parent and then a working mom is so darn tough that I can’t help yearning for simpler times with simpler lists. A simpler life!


At the rate I’m going, I think I’m well and truly into the danger zone of a burnout. A few days back I read Vidya’s post Horse, Mindfulness and To Don’t List. I loved it so much, especially the To Don’t List, that I had to make one of my own. Maybe a different kind of list is what I need. Instead of worrying about what I have to do, maybe I should try a different approach. And thinking about all that I don’t have to do sounds promising, doesn’t it?


Do you like making lists?


It’s worth a try!


So, here I am and let’s gets started with the list.


The To-don’t list.


Ignore my health or skip breakfast.


Worry about not being valued because I have the most wonderful and loving family to back me up.


Try and do everything myself.


Worry about the policies that make my life as a working mom difficult. No point worrying about what isn’t in my hand.


Fret too much when M refuses to eat. I don’t always have to obsess about feeding her.


Fight everyone else’s battles.


Explain my beliefs to others.


Worry about how clean or messed up the house looks. Or, arrange everything every single day.


While writing down the list, I realised I need to stop from time to time, rest and maybe just breathe. Be grateful for what I have. Listen to music and just not do anything for a while. Mindfulness, perhaps, is the key. A conscious effort to be mindful of uncluttering my mind with the things that really don’t need my attention or time. Also, try and remember that I’m only human, not someone who needs to do everything well all the time. It’s okay to falter, slacken my hold even. Because I won’t do anybody any good if I burn out, would I? Let’s see though how much I succeed or even how much I remember to follow the to-don’t list.


So, that was me. Tell me, what would be on your To-Don’t List? Try it out because if nothing it’s definitely therapeutic.





Linking to #mg hosted by Mackenzie Glanville


25 thoughts on “A To Don’t List”

  1. What an incredibly inspired idea! You do sound tired and overwhelmed, I hope you can follow your to don’t list and take care of yourself. It is true as adults our lists can be so heavy upon us. A wonderful post and I thank you so much for sharing here on #mg xx

  2. hmmmmmm if I had to pick one for my to-dont list, it is well going to be not to give up. Very often I start off successfully on something, continue it but then when I see my target still far away, I give up way before:(

  3. A very interesting concept Naba. I’m not a list person. The only time I make a list is when I go grocery shopping – just so I don’t forget the things I truly need 🙂

  4. A to don’t list seems like a great idea. For me to don’t would be ignoring my health, pondering on negative thoughts, tolerating irritating people, not praying enough and perhaps being lazy

  5. I have so many to-do lists myself. These days, I am more prone to using the Google assistant on my phone and Alexa to set reminders and add them to my calendar. That way I take them off my mind. But I do prepare the list of to-dos for work the next day. I really do love the idea of a Don’t list and loved all that you’ve written. These initial few years when the child is really young are very tough on parents. But there will be a day when they will sleep through the night, do their own thing, eat themselves and in general be more independent. Hang on to that thought. About waking up at night, I used to let the husband handle that as I used to be very stressed when I didn’t get enough sleep. Do try that.

  6. I like the concept of to don’t list. And I believe that also sorts our priority. You are only human… So don’t burn yourself out. Allow yourself to make mistakes. My to do list is all over the place. I really need this approach.

  7. I am a list person myself! And that ‘not doing everything on your own’ should top my list as well. 😛
    P.S: I miss your nomnom posts, Naba. You should try posting there often 🙂

  8. Yup I love making lists and crossing things after they are done! I guess I will try making a To- Don’t list.
    My dad once said to me ” Sit still, do nothing, yet the grass will grow by itself!” A quote by Basho. Being a carefree teenager, I hardly understood anything, but today I understand and appreciate the quote and understand what he was trying to tell me then.

  9. I too have lists, every single day. They are mostly in my mind and I keep ticking off every task as I complete it. But, the to-don’t list – I read that on Vidya’s blog- and I too agree we all need one such ourselves!
    My to-don’t list will include :
    Do not allow your self-esteem to take a dip; it happens because you compare yourself to others who will always be different from you. So, pat your back and be proud of yourself, come what may!
    This is the only thing that will figure on my to-don’t list. The rest of it I manage quite well! 😛

  10. I always have a To-Don’t list in my mind. I mean it is omnipresent. I haven’t yet put it down on paper, but now it is time I do that. I make so many lists that one of the things on my To-Don’t list has to be not to make more lists.

  11. I am a big on making list. I make them every day and tick off things at the end of the day. that makes me feel that I am in control of things.

    A to-don’t list never occurred to me. but, I guess I need that too. Will check out Vidya’s post now.

  12. I think that’s a solid to-don’t list Naba! We all need one because we’re so busy running around trying to catch up on that to-do list that we never stop to pause and think about what really matters. Thank you for the mention. And please do take good care of you! Parenting is not easy and with a growing toddler, pretty tiring even if it is enjoyable. I am always in awe of how you manage everything. Hugs!

  13. I really like the idea of a ‘to don’t’ list. I worry that I would end up berating myself for doing things on my ‘to don’t’ list when actually I should be focussing on the important things to do. Anyway, thanks for hte idea. Unless I start writing things like ‘the washing’ ‘ cleaning’ etc on my ‘to don’t’ list, I know that I would fail. Pen x #mg

  14. I like that to-don’t list and what a good post! Positive and inspiring. I like lists but I am not obsessed with them. I have a grocery one, travel, and work chores. Rest all – I take it easy. But like you said, having or knowing that there are things we should not ever forget – this one will come handy. I will go check Vidya’s post 🙂

  15. I can tell you that have a don’t list is easier but following it is as difficult as the to-do list :-D.
    I loved the photos you picked up from Shutterstock.
    Great post-Nabanita. 🙂

  16. I like the To Don’t list, especially as you’ve focused it on positive behaviour, rather than beating yourself up for bad behaviour. My To Don’t List would include “Don’t go to bed so late!”

  17. The idea of To-don’t list is one remarkable idea to follow. Am I a list person? I am not sure since I do not keep a good deal of work to be done for myself everyday, which may be the good side of staying at home. I only aim at accomplishing the basics. What I would prioritize on my To-don’t list is to keep the overwhelming thoughts of being responsible for everything to the minimum.

  18. I do make lists. They are a saviour.
    Agree with you, Naba.
    We have so many points in common 🙂

  19. I was nodding vigorously to try and do everything yourself but in my case I am most relaxed when my to do list is long and I keep ticking one after another …. sleepless nights will pass and become beautiful memories in your sleep …. take care

  20. Love the idea of a to-don’t list. I might have to think of this at some point. I do have to-do lists at work and personally and love crossing things off.

  21. I love this idea!
    I would love not worrying about cleaning the house or doing the laundry, cooking too!
    I would love to not set my alarm so early in the am!
    I would love not worrying about our lousy president and how he is ruining teh world.
    This is really kinda fun!
    TY xoxo #mg

  22. I work off lists, in-fact I have more lists than I like to admit, and while they give me some structure to organize the chaos that is my life, there have been many many times I have gotten overwhelmed by the sheer volume and diversity of tasks. How I wish for simpler times.

    Having said that, a to-don’t list is a great idea, and I carry one in my mind all the time, which is very similar to yours, however I think I should transfer it to paper too.

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