The Silent To-Do List (this is LIFE-CHANGING!)

Does your to-do list seem to keep growing? Does it feel like you’re never, EVER going to catch up with everything that needs to be done??

Marie Kondo is well-known for telling us to go through everything in our house and ask if it sparks joy, but I’ve often said that is too subjective. Asking us to use our emotions and feelings is too hard. We need objective rules.

Then I heard about the idea of a silent to-do list.

writing a list

Your to-do list could be getting exponentially longer without you even knowing it but understanding the silent to-do list might cause you to look differently at every single item in your house.

What is a Silent To-Do List?

The silent to-do list comes from a book called Goodbye, Things by Fumio Sasaki. He says that every single material item in your house is sending out a message.

book, silent to-do list
  • A plant says, “Water me, make sure I get enough sunlight.”
  • Dishes stacked up by the sink say, “Wash me, dry me, put me away.”
  • Laundry on the floor says, “Pick me up, put me in the laundry room, wash me, take care of me, put me away.”
  • Clothes hanging in your closet say, “Why haven’t you worn me? Why haven’t you been able to fit in me? Why did you spend money on me? Why do you make impulse purchases like this?”
clothes in closet

Everything in your house is sending these silent, subconscious messages.

That’s why our house feels so much better now that it’s highly simplified. It feels so good to be here. I didn’t know how to describe it before.

When you get rid of all the extra stuff in your house, your to-do list automatically becomes so much shorter!

That’s why a vacation home or hotel room feels so peaceful. None of that stuff is telling us to do anything.

vacation home kitchen

Of course we can’t always live in a vacation home, but we can live a whole lot closer to that if we choose to declutter all the stuff we just don’t need!

How to use the Silent To-Do List as a filter when decluttering

For each item in your house, ask yourself, Is it sending me positive messages or negative messages?

For example, think of a gross pan sitting next to the sink and a vase of flowers.

When you look at the flowers, you don’t feel any guilt. There’s nothing you have to do. You can simply enjoy them. They can remind you that even in a wacky world, there are still many good and beautiful things.  

vase of flowers

The flowers give off a message of beauty and awe and they make you feel very good.

On the other hand, a gross, dirty pan sitting next to the sink sends negative messages.

dirty pan by the sink

It’s telling you:

  • Why didn’t you just wash me right after you finished using me last night?
  • Why didn’t you at least soak me?
  • Why can’t you stay on top of the dishes?

And on and on and on.

So as you simplify your house, use this as a filter: What message is this stuff sending me?

If you have clothes that don’t fit, that you’ve spent money on, that need to be altered… what messages are those clothes sending you?

When you look around at the stuff in your house, you probably get more negative messages than positive ones.

Flowers are almost a rare exception – most of the things are saying, Do this, do that, pick me up, keep me organized, take care of me.

Even stuff that’s in storage in your basement, attic or garage can send silent messages. It needs to be organized, you need to remember that it’s there, make sure it doesn’t get ruined. And if it does get ruined, what message does that send? You’re so disorganized, why can’t you stay on top of it?

basement storage

Every single thing in your house is telling you something and you need to decide: Do I want to allow these things that are sending negative messages to stay in my house? Or is it time to get rid of them?

Does it spark joy?

This idea of asking if something sparks joy, that means it’s sending a positive message – you enjoy looking at it, you enjoy having it in your house, you enjoy maintaining it.

Flowers might still tell you, Don’t forget to add water, you might want to retrim the ends or pull out any dead ones. So it’s not maintenance free, but it’s a joy to do that.

Dirty clothes that have piled up on the floor, not so much.

So this can be a filter that you can use as you’re simplifying your house – what message is this item sending me?

If it’s not good, maybe it’s time to pass that stuff on, even if you spent money on it, if it was given to you as a gift, or if it’s a sentimental item.

Life is too short to be surrounded with stuff that send you negative messages that make you feel bad about yourself. It’s just not worth it.

Minimalism just makes sense

As you reduce the amount items in your home, your invisible to-do list will get shortened as well. It’s simple math!

Remove the extra items.

Remove the stuff that you really don’t have time to take care of.

Remove the things that are taunting you.  

I think you’ll find in the process that you’ll start to feel less stressed out, less anxious in your own home. It will actually be a peaceful place to come home to.

minimalist living room

Keep going!

When it gets tough, when you feel indecisive, when you lose momentum, remind yourself that this is really important. You deserve to have peace of mind in your own home. Your family deserves that too.

We’re all impacted a bit differently by the amount of stuff around us, but most of us function better and feel better when there just isn’t as much stuff around us.

I know how good it feels to live in a simplified home and it’s just awesome! I wish the same for you, too!!

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More about minimalism!

Why can’t I part with stuff? The Endowment Effect may explain it!

How to DECIDE ONCE when Decluttering! (with printable guide!)

How to Declutter WITHOUT Making a Bigger Mess

The minimal mom holding donation box next to a trash bag while decluttering

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