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How To Declutter That ‘Needle List’ That’s Overwhelming Your Mind

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Anxiety always rears its ugly head when I have a million little things on my To Do list.

I tend to ignore all of them — put them on the back burner — and they just keep piling up until I’m a ball of overwhelmed nerves.

Make the grocery list, fill out the insurance paperwork, pay the bills, go to the post office, clean the mugs out of the cupboard, put the Christmas stuff in storage (Don’t judge — it’s all by my backdoor), clean the outgrown clothes out of the kids’ drawers — the list goes on and on and on.

You know, they are the things that would actually only take like ten minutes to do — but you get OVERWHELMED with all the ten-minute activities you have been procrastinating.

Serena Wolf has taken to her Instagram page to discuss these things that she calls the “Needle List.”

Let’s talk about the Needle List! — In short, the Needle List is a running list of smaller tasks that I am prone to procrastinate—think returns, personal emails/texts, cleaning “the chair,” organizing a drawer, getting something repaired, making non-urgent medical appointments, sending thank you notes, etc. These little to-dos, which usually take only a few minutes to complete—live rent-free in the back of my mind and just NEEDLE me on a daily basis (my anxiety loves it!😂).


If you’re the type of person who pounces on little tasks as soon as they show up on your radar, good for you. We can’t be friends, but good for you. j/k

But, what are us “normal” people to do? Those people who put off doing the mundane, tiny tasks until they are an avalanche waiting to happen.

How do you chip away at that To Do list, and make it more manageable?

In theory, it’s pretty easy. It’s getting started, and actually doing something about it that can be more tricky.

[I have] set aside 30-60 minutes every Friday to tackle things on the Needle List, and doing this weekly has been an absolute GAME CHANGER (surprise, surprise). Not only do I feel more relaxed on weekends, but it also makes me more productive during the week because I find it easier to focus with less mental clutter. 


Now, 30-60 minutes once a week is a good jumping off point. But, my “Needle List” is so dang long that I need a bit more.

So, I’ve taken to setting aside 15 minutes each day to start knocking things off my list. The results have been incredible.

Wolf said she likes to keep her needle list to five items or fewer at any given time. It’s more manageable that way, and she likes knowing that she can knock off most —and sometimes all — of them during the allotted time on Fridays. Others might prefer to dedicate a few minutes each day to these tasks, rather than a longer chunk of time once a week.

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I take 15 minutes to clean the bathroom, or pick up all the dirty dishes around the house, or to finish that freaking insurance paperwork. Just 15 minutes, and I get so much done.

And, not only do the tasks get checked off the “Needle List” one by one, the feeling of satisfaction is AMAZING!! You’d be surprised at what a difference 15 minutes makes for your anxiety levels.

All it takes is changing that mindset. Throw on that Spotify music, set your kitchen timer for 15 minute, and just do the work to knock a few things off that list.

If I can do it, you most definitely can!!

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