A Weird Tip For A More Fulfilling Life: Make A ‘To Do For Fun’ List

Looking for to-do list ideas? Or productivity tips or happiness advice? Click through for a bullet journal idea you've never considered before!

Are you a super laid back human who’s great at relaxing? Are your evenings and weekends filled with picnics and movies and friends and reading in a hammock?

If that’s you, stop reading this blog post. It will do you no good. Instead, read this post about how to travel for a month with only a carry-on

But are you one of those Type A humans who runs themselves ragged? Who struggles to uncouple their productivity from their self-worth? Who fill their days (and evenings and weekends) with one million tiny tasks?

If you are this person, I’d like to introduce you to one solution to your Type A problems: the To Do For Fun list.

Quite simply, a To Do For Fun list is a list of fun things you’d like to do with your evening, your weekend, or any free time that falls into your calendar.

If we make lists of duties and chores so we’ll remember to do them, couldn’t we also make lists of fun, unproductive things so we’ll remember to do them? Share on X

I realize this might sound completely counter-intuitive, but sometimes if I don’t plan to have fun … I don’t. My lazy, unstructured weekend becomes an opportunity to organize paperwork, clean the fridge, and detail the car. And then once I‘ve worn myself down, I’ll fall into a Netflix coma.

Instead, what if I made a To Do For Fun list that looked like this?

Weekend To Do For Fun list

  • Sleep in
  • Go to the beach + get nachos at Sandcastle
  • Give myself a manicure
  • Make sweet corn ice cream

Even if I don’t do any of those things (which is fine, since it’s a To Do For Fun list!), I’ve taken five minutes to remind myself that this time is set aside for fun and relaxation. This time is not for never-ending chores, meeting other people’s deadlines, or putting everyone else’s needs before my own.

Related: If you’re not sure what makes you happy or what’s ‘fun’, this will help.

Here’s why you might need a To Do For Fun list, too

Writing things down makes them a jillion times more likely to happen

It’s happened to all of us. We have plans for a really lovely evening: dinner on the grill, a walk around the lake, watching one episode of that awesome show we’re trying to ration.

But somehow things devolve into eating leftovers out of tupperware in front of the fridge, cleaning up cat puke, and then “just checking email really quick” for two hours.

Making a To Do For Fun list won’t protect us from leftovers or cat puke, but it will make our fun exponentially more likely to happen. Just thinking about how we want our free time to look and putting pen to paper makes us 47% more likely to do the fun things we know we want to do!

You’re less likely to inadvertently spend all your free time doing un-fun things

If you’re a people-pleaser or a Type A human, you’ve probably ended many a weekend with the realization that you spent the last two days helping other people, running errands, or doing chores.

Helping others and being productive is great and all, but you need to fill your cup before you can pour from it, my dude.

So before you spend next weekend landscaping the yard and helping your co-worker move, literally schedule (like in Google calendar!) blocks of time devoted to totally unproductive fun.

Type in ‘Saturday 10 am – noon: poke around thrift store. Sunday 9 am – 10 am: read on deck, 7 pm – 10 pm: drink wine and attempt to cook that Ina Garten recipe.’

You’re less likely to engage in self-sabotage-masquerading-as-self-care

If you looked at my To Do For Fun list, you wouldn’t see ‘watch eight episodes of Dynasty,’ or ‘mindlessly scroll through Instagram for 45 minutes.’

And yet! If I’m not careful and intentional, that’s how I’ll spend my evenings and weekends. Gross!

When I take the time to think about how I want my free time to look and feel, I’m less likely to fall into a “self-care” habit that doesn’t actually replenish me.

You’ll notice what’s NOT on your To Do For Fun list

You might find that you never, ever list “clothes shopping” or “trying new breweries” on your To Do For Fun list. And yet those activities regularly end up on your social calendar because someone invited you to do them.

Now, I’m not suggesting that you turn down every invite that doesn’t 110% align with your interests. But if you regularly do things you don’t enjoy perhaps it’s time to, ya know, think about that.

Ultimately, the things that fill you up deserve to be just as much of a priority as anything else in your life. Let’s treat them as such. Share on X

I want to hear from you! Does your free time get eaten up with chores and errands? Do you ever find yourself falling down a Netflix hole even when it’s not actually that fun?

P.S. Want to break your bad Netflix or Instagram habits? This will help – and it’s free!

Photo by Ishan @seefromthesky on Unsplash

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  1. Cortney Loui

    I have totally been doing this for the past few months – creating a funtivities list for my vacation days, otherwise I spend the whole day being productive because I feel like I ought to. It’s so satisfying to jot down “sit in the sunshine drinking coffee and reading a book” and let that be my goal. Excellent timing! Love love love your writing (here and beyond) 🙂

    • Sarah Von Bargen

      Isn’t it so great! It really forces me to think about how I want to spend my time AND THEN DO IT!

  2. Jessica West-Walker

    I am writing to you from my Netflix hole. Where I’m ‘recovering’ from my self sabotaging.

    I also think I might have a crack at writing a second list for when I’m at work. I rarely take breaks but there are times I find I have a spare 20 – 45 mins. My office is near a beautiful park, great shopping and cafes – which I rarely visit.

    If I had a small list at work – I could pop out for a quick mid day adventure / joy booster!

    Love your work you clever girl.


  3. Kamina

    I go through phases of writing my daily to-do list in quadrants on the page. One quadrant for ‘work’, one for ‘household’, one for ‘people’ and one for me. It’s a good way for me to tell if I’m balancing the different things that are important. My ‘me’ list will have things like watch an episode of my show, read that thing I wanted to read, exercise, wax my eyebrows or go to my favourite cafe.

    The fun to-do list is a great trick for A-typers! I could EASILY go all day without doing anything to fill my own cup but hey, if I wrote it on a list, I have to do it. That’s just a Law for overachievers.

  4. Joyce

    Sarah! It’s like you observed my free time for the past few months and wrote this to me as an intervention. Need to implement this ASAP so I feel more rested/rejuvenated. Thank you!!

  5. Maggie

    I don’t do this with general activities, but now that I’m getting older and not in the “seeing all my friends out at the bar every weekend” phase of my life, I make a list of my friends I love spending time with so that I don’t end up being like “How is it possible I have gone SIX MONTHS without seeing Tamra when she is a beautiful light of joy in my life?!” When I think of a fun thing I’d like to do, like a restaurant I want to try or a new movie that looks like fun, I consult the list so I can fully consider all my options. Now that I write this out it seems really bizarre! But it keeps me from spending time with the same friends who are more available (or more active on social media and thus always in the front of my brain) and never seeing my friends who are quieter or who have difficulty scheduling social time around family obligations. I am a big nerd and this works for me.

  6. Amber

    So good! This resonates hard. Thanks for a great post; totally gonna do this.

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