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You Might Be Making Your To-Do List at the Wrong Time

A person holds a pencil over an empty notebook.
Roman Samborskyi/Shutterstock.com

Before your workday starts, you might jot down a to-do list in an effort to make your day more productive. However, according to one expert, your morning to-do list routine could be affecting your sleep.

Making your list in the morning makes sense, as it’s a way to map out your day. If you don’t struggle with anxiety, worry, or sleep issues, that might be fine. If you do, though, a to-do list brain dump at night can help relieve some of that anxiety.

Clinical psychologist, Elena Welsh, Ph.D., cites a 2018 Baylor University study that followed 57 college students. Half of them were asked to complete a journaling assignment about tasks they’d done that day, and the other half journaled about their upcoming tasks.

Those who wrote about their future tasks fell asleep significantly faster. Of those, the participants who created more detailed lists fell asleep fastest.

“If we have something we want to remember to do, it feels like an open tab in our brain,” said Welsh. “It’s there taking up resources.”

The method is similar to another scheduling technique in which people set aside “worry” time. Instead of continually worrying throughout the day (or right before bed), you schedule a time to address your worries, write them down, and decide on your next action items.

The process, when done at night before bed, is meant to help you sleep better. If your mind races at night, adjusting your to-do list time might be the secret.

[Via mindbodygreen]

Shea Simmons Shea Simmons
Shea Simmons is an Atlanta-based writer who has written about everything from whether Crisco is a good moisturizer to how to KonMari your space. Her work has appeared in Bustle, My First Apartment, and Make It Grateful. Read Full Bio »

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