Throw out your checklists

Throw out your checklists


Representative image (iStock photo)

So much of what we do on a daily basis is built on tight schedules and checklists. One of the most popular narratives during the very first week of the lockdown was that this time would be a true measure of resilience and self-worth, both evaluated solely in terms of productivity. Other social media posts urged readers to immediately begin learning a new language or gaining a new certification.

It would be unfair to dismiss the importance of quantifiable achievements, efficiency, and deadlines in ensuring accountability. However, widening the scope and intensity of this structured, result-oriented approach to every part of our day is one surefire path towards burnout. 

This realization is pivotal, especially along with a committed focus on your best efforts and vision, rather than just targets and quotas. It becomes a game-changer, not just in the professional sphere where it soothes stress and anxiety, but even more so in emotional health, and in one’s spiritual journey. 

Often, we begin to believe that the checklist approach can apply to our walk with God. This causes people to become preoccupied with the to-dos – to pray, meditate or give, in order to meet one’s own ideals of perfect religion. However, as Apostle Paul writes in Colossians 2, these human rules and teachings soon lose their meaning.

When we focus continually on the doing, it causes us to approach faith in the same way as we do work - as tasks to be accomplished and criteria to be met. One of the most freeing revelations one could have is this – the criteria were thrown out, a couple millennia ago!  Where the law had proposed an unattainable checklist, love has become its ultimate fulfilment. Every commandment now amounts only to love – to love the Lord your God with all your heart, and to love your neighbour as yourself. It is then, our time to focus on the being – for as we read in 1 John 4:12, “God lives in us, and his love is made complete in us.” 

More often than not, concern with fulfilling the to-do can directly hinder this most important commission. So then, if there is one thing we actually need to do, it is this – throw out all checklists, and simply love.