How to Detox Your To-Do List

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Do you ever feel like you have a million and a half things to do and the list is growing by the minute?

I get it. I’ve been there too! It is such an overwhelming and frustrating feeling! A few months ago, I began to “detox” my to-do list which made me less stressed and ultimately helped me get more done.

Here’s how you can detox your to-do list to be less stressed and more productive.

The To Do List Overwhelm

My life is busy. Yours is too, I’m sure. The weekends are always my time to “get caught up” on life. I get so excited about my “free time” that my brain goes EVERYWHERE. I think of a million and a half things that I want to do today, right now.

In order to make sure that nothing escapes from the insanity of my brain, I make a list. My lists end up looking something like this:

Is anyone else overwhelmed just by looking at it? I can feel the anxiety creeping in.

My lists were so long, overwhelming and chaotic that I would just walk away, leave my to-do list behind, and accomplish none of it. Monday would roll around and 90% of those tasks would be left undone, setting my family and me up for a week as chaotic as my list.

Sound familiar?

It’s time for a Detox

By putting too much on my plate at once, I set myself up to fail. I needed to learn to focus.

That is what detoxing your to-do list is: focusing only on what truly has to be done right now and putting the rest aside. By detoxing my to-do list, I am able to see beyond the overwhelm. I can identify what actually needs to be done today/this weekend and what can wait.

Here is the same to-do list after a good detox:

Ahhhh…so much better.

Having a visual representation of what is truly urgent is empowering and freeing. With a smaller list, I am able to accomplish everything on it with ease. (And generally a few things off of my larger list too.)

I end the weekend feeling accomplished and proud instead of deflated and defeated. I challenge you to try it out and let me know how it goes in the comments below!

How to Detox your To-Do List

  1. Write down a list of everything you want to get done.
  2. Go back to your list and pick out only the things you ABSOLUTELY HAVE to get done TODAY.
  3. Write those on a new “To Do Today” list.
  4. Put your larger list away in a safe place.
  5. Begin tackling your “To Do Today” list.
  6. If you finish everything on that list (and I bet you will), stop and celebrate.
  7. Then, if you want to, you can begin knocking things off your larger to do list.


  1. I hate having a million pieces of paper floating around. To avoid the mess, I printed one copy of both templates and placed them inside a plastic sheet protector or picture frame, like the one below. (You could also use a sign holder.)I write on them with a dry erase marker. I erase the items as I complete them and then reuse the same list the next day.
  2. You can also make a DIY chalkboard with chalkboard paint and an old picture frame, like the one I use above.

Want some templates for these lovely lists (like the one pictured to your right)? Add your email below and you will have access to these templates and my entire resource library with every template I have ever made for my wonderful readers.


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Author: Vanessa

I am a free spirit who learned to use creativity as a key to success in chasing after debt freedom. I am a mom, lover of all things DIY, a little bit of a treehugger and modern-day hippy and an encourager to the core. If you need a little inspiration for your debt free journey, you’ve come to the right place.


  1. Natalie

    Love this idea! I need to simply my to-do list. I’m always letting myself get overwhelmed with the everyday things that I need to do, especially having a little one at home. Thanks for sharing that tip (dry erase board or chalkboard) – I have to do that! 🙂

    • Those sweet little ones-they multiply the to-do list and eat up all your free time! But they are so stinking cute that it’s worth every moment :). Having a simplified list I can’t lose has definitely helped me stay sane. I hope it helps you too! Thanks for reading!

  2. My to-do list is always very long, and I haven’t really put all of them down yet though I wanted to. Now I learned to just write 3 BIG THINGS to do for the day, sometimes I write down on my bullet journal and sometimes on Trello. I like the idea of the template you use. It’ll be really helpful for me to have a visual list all the time so I know exactly what I need to do. I really need to detox my to-do list.

    Thanks for sharing!

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