Use Checklists with Wisdom and Inspiration


Over the past few months I have noticed a trend in conversations that I have had with different sisters in my ward. The themes of these conversations seem to focus on: “I’m not doing good enough” or “I feel overwhelmed with all the stuff I’m supposed to do.” These conversations always leave me wondering: “Why do we feel like this? Are we really not living up to the standard we need to?” When I consider these women, I see sisters who are doing awesome things as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Whether they are young moms with little kids or tired moms driving kids to a million activities or single women or empty nesters, they are doing great things for their families. So why is it that we as women often tend to feel like we aren’t doing enough? 

The Values and Dangers of Checklists

I think that too often we see a checklist of things that we are supposed to do:

  • Go to church with children all in a row sitting with hair done and happy

  • Say your prayers morning and evening

  • Read your scriptures every day

  • Attend the temple weekly

  • Minister to your sisters, visit them, text them weekly

  • Fulfill your callings, with handouts and activities planned

  • Lead Come, Follow Me readings in your family every day

  • Hold Family Home Evening weekly with no fighting

  • Do your family history, find every missing person from your tree

  • Read the conference talks

  • Study the first vision (all versions)

  • Learn about the priesthood (read Doctrine and Covenants 2, 13, 20, 25, 76, 84, 95, 107, 110, 112, 121, 124, 131, 132)

  • Study with your spouse daily

  • Pray with your spouse daily

  • Have family council every week

  • Make dinner for the family with a new baby

  • Shovel snow for your elderly neighbours

  • Keep your house in perfect order

I think that too often, we take that list and focus on checking things off and making sure that every box is ticked. Otherwise, we think that we have somehow failed. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good list, and I love the satisfaction of checking off those completed tasks. I always have. But we also need to look for ways to spend our time wisely.


Wisely and Diligently Evaluate Plans and Actions

As I read the “Ideas for Family Scripture Study” in the April 20-26 Book of Mormon 2020 Come, Follow Me manual, the following counsel by King Benjamin strongly impressed my attitude and thinking, “see that all these things are done in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength. And again, it is expedient that he should be diligent, that thereby he might win the prize; therefore, all things must be done in order” (Mosiah 4:27). 

Maybe for you, looking at the manual Come, Follow Me—For Individuals and Families is once a week or just five minutes a day at the breakfast table. That is the joy of the Come, Follow Me resources—we make them work for our own situations. It’s going to look different in every single family! 


Maybe, as a single mom with a special-needs child, or with little ones at home, you can’t get to the temple as often as you want. Do what you can. Make sure your temple recommend is current. Make a goal for how often you can attend the temple, then work to make it happen. Also, don’t forget to ask for help from your ministering brothers and sisters: they want to help!

Maybe your spouse isn’t a member of the restored Church of Jesus Christ, or maybe they aren’t attending church with you even if they are. Invite family members to talk and decide together what you are both going to do to make important things—like family prayer, family scripture study, and family councils—work. Every family is going to do things differently. Invite your Heavenly Father into the situation, and He will help guide you and give revelation for you and your family. 

Family Prayer

Do Not Run Faster Than You Have Strength

I love this verse of scripture, “Do not run faster or labor more than you have strength and means provided … be diligent unto the end” (Doctrine and Covenants 10:4). If we didn’t get it all checked off today, that’s okay. Look at what you did get done and then start again tomorrow. Take a serious look at what you are doing, and tomorrow, do just a little bit better. There may be some things you could do less of: less scrolling through Instagram, a little less Netflix, or a little less time playing Spider Solitaire. This will free time for feasting on the scriptures.

smart phone

Elder Uchtdorf has said, “Pause for a moment and check where your own heart and thoughts are. Are you focused on the things that matter most? How you spend your quiet time may provide a valuable clue … Sometimes the things that distract us are not bad in and of themselves; often they even make us feel good. It is possible to take even good things to excess.” (“We Are Doing a Great Work and Cannot Come Down,” Ensign, May 2009). It is not for me to tell you what is best for you. With ongoing prayers, scripture study, and pausing for reflective heart checks, you will be inspired to know.

Choose What Is Best for You and Your Family

Zuidhof Family

What I do know is that when you have a desire to do good, Heavenly Father will help you find the time for that good. So, rather than making that list of things that you think everyone else is expecting you to do, counsel with your Father in Heaven and work with Him to make that list of things He needs you to do today. If that’s cuddling with a sick child or taking care of your aging parent, that’s what your priority is today. God will help you find time to get done what you need to do, and ultimately “win the prize” of eternal life and exaltation. 

As President Gordon B. Hinckley counselled sisters at a general Relief Society meeting: “Do not nag yourself with a sense of failure. Get on your knees and ask for the blessings of the Lord; then stand on your feet and do what you are asked to do. Then leave the matter in the hands of the Lord. You will discover that you have accomplished something beyond price” (“To the Women of the Church,” Ensign, Nov. 2003).