Simplify Your Day: The Art of Leaving Things Undone

Self and Relationship Expert Julie Hanks, LCSW, Owner and Director of Wasatch Family Therapy, shares tips for simplifying your day and mastering the art of leaving things undone.

Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is a nobler art of leaving things undone.

-Lin Yutang

I’m the first to admit that that I have a lot on my plate and that I like to get things done. However, I recently wrote a blog called “Confessions of a Multi-tasking Mama” about all of the things I don’t do – the things I leave undone. I received many emails and blog comments from women expressing relief that they are not alone in leaving things undone, and sharing their own candid “confessions” of what they leave undone. I’ve posted some of their comments at the end of this article.

Tips For Leaving Things UNDONE

ACCEPT your limitations

I have surveyed hundreds of women and found that the majority of women felt guilty for all that they’re not doing (for leaving things undone). There will always be things left “undone”.

BREAK your own rules

Often the pressure to do everything is self-imposed. “I can’t leave the house until the dishes are done” or “I can’t play until all of my work is done” are examples of self-imposed rules that can be broken.

CHOOSE people over tasks

In the busyness of life the accomplishing of tasks can seem overwhelming, easily overpowering the importance of our relationships. Ask yourself this question: Will anyone mention this at my funeral?

DECIDE your priorities

When you are aware of what is most important to you, it’s a lot easier to let the less important things remain undone. To identify what is most important to you ask yourself: What is my life about? Who is most important to me?

The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities. -Steven R. Covey

ENGAGE in your passions

When you engage in the things you love and spend time with the people you love, it’s easier to leave other things undone because you are living in and enjoying the moment. Engaging in activities that energize you everyday is crucial to refueling your emotional tank and helping to prioritize what to do, and what to leave undone.

I asked some of my Facebook friends and blog followers what they leave undone to simplify their day. Here’s what they had to say…

I leave my bed unmade during the week. Oh, and I leave the cookie dough unbaked. – Kelly M.

Have kids help do jobs around house and DON’T go around and “fix” after (Takes discipline)! – Natalie C.

The folding of my laundry is the bottom of the list. The thing that NEVER gets done would be ironing. -Val Z.

I decided years ago that there is a difference between the job of mom and housekeeper. I am good at and love the mom job. The housekeeper job . . . not so much. – Amy W.

My house is less than stellar and I don’t cook hardly anything from scratch! -Debbie H.

As a home schooling mom of nine children, I tell people I am raising a family right now, not a house or a yard.
Heidi J.

Most often I’ll leave dirty dishes from dinner until the morning so I can spend time relaxing with my hubby. – Loralee T.

Housecleaning seems to be the only non-essential that can be left undone sometimes. We also use paper plates 80% of the time to cut down on dishes. Laundry only gets done once a week in our home (6-8 loads at a time), so kids have learned to hang up clothes they want to wear again. -Laura B.

As a teacher, I learned that it was okay to not correct every single paper the child does… sometimes a sticker or stamp is all they need to reward their effort. -Krystal P.

As a single mom, a lot of things go undone with 4 children 14 and under. I purposely prioritize my day so that I can have a clean kitchen, happy kids, and enough time to love each other. -April C.

I have also learned through the death of my mother that life is short and we should cherish each moment. There is no need to try to do it all and have it all. We must find balance and do and have the things that make us happy. I have weeds in my flower beds, I hide things in closets and under the bed and I take naps also. -Lisa

My children have friend B-Day parties every other year. – Emily H.

I don’t let my kids have extracurricular activities more than once a year. I also instituted “no play date days” during the school year. They are Monday, Thursday and Sunday. This brings me both sanity and allows me to see my children more often than throwing them in the car and bringing them places. – Pam B.

Self & Relationship Expert Julie de Azevedo Hanks, LCSW, founder and Clinical Director of Wasatch Family Therapy, LLC specializes in women’s mental health therapy, marriage counseling and family therapy. Visit to learn more about counseling services, workshops, & classes. Visit for more inspiration on how to let your best self shine!
Visit Wasatch Family Therapy or call (801) 944-4555 for information about individual, couple, and family counseling, groups, and workshops.

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