Feeling Unproductive? It’s Okay if You Don’t Finish Everything on Your To-Do List

Feeling Unproductive? It’s Okay if You Don’t Finish Everything on Your To-Do List

Do you feel frustrated when you can’t cross-off items on your daily to-do list?

Does it seem as if you should finish all of your work, projects, and assignments in a single 24-hour period?

In today’s changing and busy world, it’s all too easy to lose sight of the larger picture.

After all, there’s only so much work one person can complete in any given period of time!

In this post, I offer several friendly reminders as to why you don’t have to do it all in one day.

Keep these pointers in mind the next time you’re feeling unproductive or unmotivated.


There are external factors outside of your control.

While you can control your thoughts and actions, there are things you cannot control.

These include other people, others’ thoughts and actions, the weather, traffic, emergencies, and so on.

Unfortunately, there’s no way to avoid these circumstances.

There will be times when you’ll need to be flexible and appropriately deal with whatever urgent item(s) pop up in your life.

This could be the photocopier jamming at work before a big meeting, having a classmate drop out of a school group project at the last-minute, or having to deal with a broken window at home.

Don’t be too hard on yourself; take a deep breath and deal with whatever is in your path, right here, right now.

Things will soon get back on track.

Everything can’t happen at the same time.

If everything, and I mean absolutely everything, happened at the same time in your life…why, things would be quite different, wouldn’t they?

Just think about this for a moment.

What would happen if all of your years here on planet earth were to take place in a split second?

That’s all of your birthdays, graduations, promotions, celebrations, achievements, awards, and goals gone in the blink of an eye.

What would that experience be like? Well, for starters, there would be no anticipation, no thrills, and certainly no excitement.

Everything would start and end almost instantaneously.

That’s a pretty boring experience, if you ask me.

All the more reason to be thankful for those buffers of time!

You need a much-needed break.

Okay, so you weren’t able to tackle those household chores, study those notes and textbooks during study period, or complete those tasks on your work to-do list.

Is it the end of the world? No, it isn’t.

Should you stress-out about it? Certainly, not.

It’s worth looking at things from a different angle.

Maybe this is a sign you need to take a well-deserved break from your duties or responsibilities.

And perhaps this is a sign that you need to reframe your thoughts about the decisions you make, including what you must accomplish on a daily basis.

Why not make the most of your situation and cut yourself some slack?

Take the evening off and relax, instead of trying to squeeze everything into your day.

Your body and mind will thank you.

You’ll learn from your mistakes.

Having days where everything doesn’t go as planned gives you a chance to grow as a person.

Okay, so things didn’t work out today. No problem. Now’s a great time to take a closer look at your experiences.

Did something happen that was completely out of your control? Did something happen that was completely within your control? If it’s the latter, you can really make progress by locating, evaluating, and learning from your errors.

Here’s an example for you. Let’s say you created a daily to-do list with a whopping fourteen items. You were so overwhelmed by the length of the list, that you successfully accomplished only a handful of tasks.

What if you learned from your mistake and made a plan to keep your to-do list to only four singular items? You’d be able to physically complete your work, and feel good about it in the process.

That’s not a bad lesson learned, if you ask me!

You’re human.

Have you ever heard of the phrase, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.”? There’s some truth to this aged statement.

That’s right, one of the greatest empires in the history of the world (if not all of the greatest empires of the world) was built slowly by humans, day after day, over many, many, years.

Let’s face it: it takes time to build things and reach your goals.

It doesn’t matter if it’s a glorious empire, a successful career, a healthy and happy family, a satisfying hobby, or a life you love.

Do what you can, when you can, and don’t feel the least bit guilty for doing so.

That’s all any human can do.

How about you? When’s the last time you felt you should have finished everything in one day? How did you handle the situation? Join the conversation and leave a comment below!

Follow Rashelle:
Rashelle Isip is a New York City-based professional organizer and productivity consultant who helps people get organized so they can stress less, have more fun, and be happier at home. Her work has been featured in Good Housekeeping, Fast Company, Cosmopolitan, The Washington Post, Business Insider, and The Atlantic. Get access to her free guide, 10 Simple Ways to Make Your To-Do Lists More Effective, by clicking here.
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