What Is An Enough List And How it Helped Me Enjoy Everyday

Melissa Camara Wilkins

I used to think there was never enough time.

At the end of every day, no matter how busy I’d been, there were always projects unfinished, emails unanswered, and household chores left undone. I hadn’t done it all, so I felt like I hadn’t done enough.

And it’s only a short leap in your heart from “I never do enough” to “I’m not enough.”

I tried making really thorough to-do lists, but that just gave me a super detailed record of all the things I wasn’t getting to. I would not call that helpful.

The real problem was, I could think of way more things to do than there were minutes in a day. (Oops.)

That’s when I decided to create an Enough List.

See, an Enough List isn’t a list of everything you could possibly do in a day.

Photo Credit: Flavio~, Creative Commons

Photo Credit: Flavio~, Creative Commons

It’s a list of what will be enough for today.

Every morning, I make a list of the three things that are enough for the day, and that is my Enough List. They don’t have to be life-changing things, they just have to be the things that are most important to me today.

When I’ve done those three things, I’ve done enough.

Anything else is a bonus.

My list might say, “write that article,” or “have that conversation with my husband,” or “make that phone call I’ve been avoiding.” It might be “clear the kitchen counter (finally).” It might be “read to the kids.”

It might be “send that email!” It might be “work until five, then shut the computer.”

Any three things at all, but only three.

When I’m not sure what to do next, I can turn to my list and choose one of the three things to work on. If they all get crossed off before noon: great! If it takes all day: okay!

But I don’t flit from task to task, doing a little of this and a little of that, without ever getting to the things that matter most to me. And I don’t get overwhelmed by the sheer number of things to do. Three is doable. Three works.

I’ve learned so much from my little list.

Now instead of ending each day feeling like I’ve fallen behind, I have a built-in sense of accomplishment in the evenings. I finished my three things! I did what mattered most!

There was enough time, and I did enough.

And if I don’t finish all three, I get to practice giving myself grace. Some days are messy. Some days nothing goes according to plan. That’s just life. It doesn’t mean I’m disorganized or lazy or behind, it means I’m living.

On those days I get to practice letting go and being okay.

I can begin again in the morning.

Most importantly the list has taught me to name the truth: I am enough, even if I can’t do it all.

Today is enough, whatever it holds. That I can choose what is enough for today, even if some things are left for tomorrow.

That’s enough for me.

Melissa Camara Wilkins

Melissa Camara Wilkins

Melissa Camara Wilkins writes about looking for the bigger picture, being a work in progress, and giving yourself grace at melissacamarawilkins.com Melissa lives in Southern California with her husband and six kids. For regular updates, follow her on Twitter and Instagram

  • joyfulmomofmany

    Melissa, thank you. This article was perfect timing for me. As a single mom (after escaping a 27 year long abusive marriage) of a large family (12 children) I struggle with this on a daily basis. I definitely give others way more grace than I give myself, forgetting that even Jesus didn’t model the pressure-filled “be more awesome, get more done” mindset that I so often chase after. Truly He is mindful that I am “but dust.” I am sure that the Lord isn’t surprised or dismayed by my “humanness.” :)

    • Yes! I don’t think Jesus is one bit surprised by our imperfection, and loves us in the middle of it. Now to extend that same love and grace to ourselves… it’s a practice. 😉

      • Linda Sand

        Reminding myself that only God is perfect helps me forgive my imperfections. After all, I certainly don’t want to be accused of acting as if I think I am God.

  • Jeff

    I do the same thing, Melissa. Every morning I star my 3 MITs in my task app and work on things first. Most days I finish them. Some days I don’t. When I don’t finish them I feel guilty. But I think you’re right. Sometimes life happens and not finishing my MITs is often a result of living my life. Thank you for reminding me to give myself (and others) more grace.

    • Thanks, Jeff. First things first, and grace always. Not a bad daily plan, methinks. 😉

  • Awesome article! I love making lists, but it always seems like the lists get longer and I get less done! This might be what I needed to ‘hear’ Thank you! :)

  • Nora Watts

    Absolutely Brilliant.