Drowning in my ‘To Do’ List

 

 

Why do I always feel like I’m treading water?

I write a list which keeps chores, projects, appointments, and phone numbers handy, but…

This ‘To Do’ list never actually, you know, gets done. Which kind of defeats the purpose.

I continue to add to it until that cute, little notepad shaped like an owl or sunflower just won’t cut it and I have to break out the big guns. A huge, yellow legal pad. And still…I’m writing on the second then third page. This is usually for one week’s day’s worth of stuff.

If I complete something, I get that satisfaction of crossing it off. *ah* I love that. Sometimes, if I sweep the house and it wasn’t on the list, I’ll add it just to cross it off. That’s a perk of the dreaded list. (I know. It’s pathetic.)

What’s more pathetic is, when I complete a ‘work’, ‘home’, or ‘writing’ task, something else rushes in to take its place.

A ‘To Do’ list is helpful in certain ways but also serves as a tangible reminder that I WILL NEVER FINISH THAT LIST.

It’s like trying to scoop water out of a pool with a teaspoon while a waterfall splashes more in right next to me.

 

My Sunday thoughts in 200 words or less.

ThoughtBubble

Do you use a list to keep track of all the things you need to do? Do you have another (better) way? An app? A different way of approaching the traditional ‘To Do’ list? (Not including ripping it in half and throwing it in the trash – tried that. Doesn’t work.) If so, please share your wisdom in the comments. I need a life vest. Thank you…

 

 

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53 thoughts on “Drowning in my ‘To Do’ List

  1. Not any more. The tyranny of The List was always too much. My first ever secretary when I joined my first ever law firm as a trainee told me to keep a list but always include one item about one third in that I could cross off immediately for the boost it gave me. She also said that I should not add to it until it was two thirds done and if something came up that was too important not to add to rewrite it on the same principle as before but leaving off at least 3 other things even if they hadn’t all been done on the basis that if something so important had come up the rest couldn’t be that important. I thought her v wise; a total and utter b***h but v wise.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Those things are tyrannical! Seriously.

      My head hurts just trying to figure out what you’re saying. I got the first part, though, and I like that. Add an item that you can cross off immediately. That’s basic psychology. That’s like adding the one I’ve already done just to cross it off (but yours is better). And, I think, basically she had you prioritizing which I need to work on. A lot of people say to get the big stuff done first, then deal with the smaller, less important stuff. Others say to get the small stuff done then you’ll have a sense of accomplishment and energy to do the big stuff. Eh. Contracting advice. Color me shocked. 😉

      Liked by 3 people

      • My first boss said that pressure could be helpful in increasing efficiency but there is always a tipping point when the sheer volume of what needs doing gums up the works. At that point he advised you take one task, any one but one that can be dealt with quickly even if not the most important, even if not in the top ten and do it. Get the wheels moving again and usually it means you can start motoring again. It’s pretty accurate in my experience

        Liked by 1 person

      • Oh, yes… The tipping point. The sheer volume of what needs to be done. I think I’m having some sort of attack just reading that. 😖

        Perhaps I’ll pick something small(ish) and get the wheels moving again. Worth a try. Thanks, Geoff.

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  2. I love the last line here, Sarah. I use the same teaspoon. My to do list is on a blackboard in the kitchen. Some of the chalky scribbles have been there for months. The ones I rub off with a wet sponge (or finger) leave a lovely clean black empty space, which is filled two minutes later. Drat and double drat. Have a lovely Sunday! Juliet

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I totally sympathise. I’m the same with lists, though mine are in a large diary and I try and space things out over the pages so it doesn’t feel so overwhelming. However, if I don’t do something I have to carry it forward and then I get clumping of things, and no one wants that!!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Ah. Spacing things out. That might work. I write them one after another then cram new tasks in where they fit (over to the side, between two others…) Exactly. Mine’s clumped together, like you said. It’s upsetting to look at. So, your way, it will be longer but there will be a visual break. I’ll try it. Thanks, Georgia. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  4. I can’t create them as they make my anxiety have a party in my head. I now just use my head, intuition and ‘nudges’ from the universe lol! I get a lot of ‘nudges’ nowadays so I am often heard saying to myself “give it a rest with all these nudges!”

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’ve always made them and, yet, completely agree with you about the anxiety-making ability of those things. I don’t know how you keep it all in your head! 😜 I wouldn’t make it through a day. (Actually…you’ve just given me a challenge. I’ll try the “keep it in my head” thing for ONE DAY.) A nudge day.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Wow! It sounds like you are super busy!!
    I’ve never written a to-do list out on paper, but I have reminders for everything in my phone, and when the reminder goes off, I do the task. Then it feels like I just have one thing to do at a time and I don’t get overwhelmed.

    Liked by 1 person

    • 😂 I am. I REALLY am busy. It boggles my mind. I love your idea of getting a reminder and just doing it right then. Two things:
      1. You won’t put it off
      2. You won’t get overwhelmed
      I’ll have to try that. Though I know I won’t be able to stop what I’m doing every time to get something done when the reminder goes off, I will try it. Thanks, Em!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Much sympathy to you, Sarah! I can definitely relate. My first suggestion would be to see if you can remove any excess things from your plate for good, even if it involves backing out of commitments–if they are draining your life force and not being good for you and your family, then get out of them if at all possible! Disappointing other people is hard, I know (at least for us people pleasers), but working against yourself is much worse in the long run.

    My second suggestion would be to embrace prioritizing and “radical acceptance” that you won’t get everything done you want to do. See if you glean any help from the ideas I share in my post 2-step To-do Lists for Wiser Living

    Another idea which I haven’t tried but I’ve heard is popular is the “bullet journal.” Might be something for you to check into.

    ❤️❤️❤️

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh! I so am a people-pleaser. And there are things that are literally draining the life out of me. 😫 I know this. I’ve even blogged about saying ‘no’ and so forth at least twice. Argh! I am totally working against myself. It’s stupid and I know it and yet… There I go agreeing to do something for someone again when I have no time for the things I HAVE to do and just forget about time for myself.

      I look forward to reading your post. Thank you so much for commenting and sharing that. (I’ll look into the bullet journal, too. Sounds familiar.)

      Liked by 1 person

  7. FWIW, I just made a video for my YouTube channel about the importance of setting priorities when you want to get things done. I quoted a lawyer I used to work with who said, “When you’re up to your ass in alligators, it’s easy to forget you came to drain the swamp.”

    Sometimes, you simply must pick the most important thing and do it. 🙂

    I haven’t posted the video yet, but I will as soon as I can. Currently, I’m up to my ass in alligators. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • “When you’re up to your ass in alligators, it’s easy to forget you came to drain the swamp.” I love that! 😂 I am up to my ass in alligators!

      Looking forward to that video. I rarely see YouTube videos. Will you be linking to it on your blog?

      Liked by 1 person

  8. If I don’t have a list, I tend to wander aimlessly and my mind blocks out all those things that need doing. Like yours, my list is overflowing and things get done according to which yells the loudest. It’s a good day if everyone in the house has clean underwear and I have a vague notion of what’s for dinner.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Even with a list, my mind wanders and spins and whirls around like those bloody teacup rides at a carnival. It’s the spinning todo ride. It makes you feel nauseated. It IS a good day if everyone has clean underwear. Forget haircuts, clipped fingernails, etc. It’s all about the underwear. You can tell a lot about a person by how many members of his or her family have enough clean underwear.

      Liked by 2 people

  9. Like most of the other commenters, I too keep a list – I have a variety of pads which get filled, then rewritten into different lists, then have sticky notes with extra small lists stuck on them, and, while I do cross things off, like you I never seem to get to the end. However, if I didn’t keep a list i wouldn’t get anything done. A necessary evil, I guess 😀

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  10. I’m an inveterate lister – lists help me get things done and block my tendency to procrastinate. I can empathize, though, because it will sometimes take me a week to get through one day’s list! What I do to help my ego is to add things to the list that I accomplish that day that aren’t on the list, even little things because they also take time.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I can see that. I guess, when my list gets too long, I actively avoid it. Just looking at it overwhelms me. I’m only human. I can’t do everything on there in a day (or a week). I add small things, too. It does give you a boost. 🙂 Plus, you’re right, they’re taking up your time and if they’re not on the list, it’s easy to say, “I didn’t get anything done.”

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  11. Oh dear, Sarah. Life’s just too busy. I’m fortunate now that my children are grown and my out of house work commitments have decreased somewhat. I have more choice over how I use my time, but there is still far more I’d like to be able to do than what I achieve. But I do prioritise. I think an important thing to write at the top of every list, is an acknowledgement of sorts, that you can’t do everything but you do what you can. Put the important things first, the non-negotiables, like your boys and your family. Time for you, if that’s a priority, and Hub. When the priorities and non-negotiables are met, choose what are the next important things for you to achieve and work towards them. Ditch the things that make no difference to whether life goes on or not. I feel very frustrated if I don’t reach my writing targets for the week. It is a rare occurrence that I don’t as I prioritise them in my choose time. Recently Hub mentioned to me how sparkling clean a friend’s windows always were. My retort was that if the windows were sparkling clean she had nothing better to do with her time. I’m not taking that attempt at guilt-tripping me on board. And I’m not going to write anymore because I’ve already taken up too much of your precious time!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Commitments, responsibilities, obligations… That’s it. I really do need to prioritize. Everything seems so important but it can’t be. It can’t ALL be that important. I just feel that way. Although I do have a lot of responsibilities, I think I add things I feel obligated to do. I’ve written about saying ‘no’ before. At least twice. I’m not doing that. But I’d say no to sparkling windows, too. We need to say no to demands on our time and not feel guilty. I need to have a ‘non-negotiable’ list, too…family and self-care. 💕 Thanks so much, Norah.

      I like that acknowledgment at the top. A visual reminder that I can’t do it all.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Today I began listening to Brene Brown’s book “The Gifts of Imperfection”. I thought of you. Have you read or listened to any of her work? This is the first for me, other than a TED talk, but she comes highly recommended. I think rather than trying to be perfect, it is good to accept our imperfections, difficult though that may be for some. Easy for me. I am far from perfect in anything, so accepting my imperfections comes easy. Next life round I’m not going to stand quietly and politely at the end of the line and let everyone else go first! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • I LOVE Brené Brown! 💕 I recently ordered two of her books (one of them being the one you recommend here). I’ve only heard her speak (online) but I adore her. I do need to read her books but, as of right now, I’ll be lucky to get to them within the next year. I need a KICK IN THE PANTS. All caps. I need…something to radically change.

        Oh, Norah, I am so sick of being that person who stands quietly and politely at the end of the line, in a hurry to get to an appointment or to get home, and letting everyone else go first. I’m sick of it! There’s common courtesy then there’s being a martyr, you know? 🙁

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  12. Scooping water out of a pool with a teaspoon? Lol. Sounds about right. When I worked in business, I had three lists. 1) What MUST be done today or I’ll get fired. I’d finish this list if I had to stay up to midnight. 2) What must get done this week or I’ll get fired. I’d pick away at this one knowing that I’d have to work on the weekend if I didn’t finish. And 3) other stuff I need to do eventually, which I ignored until it moved up in priority. I still use the system when I feel overwhelmed. Good luck!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, a teaspoon. I feel like I’m not even making a dent in what I NEED to do yet I’m constantly doing things. What the hell is it I’m actually doing? You know, someone suggested separate lists but making lists by importance (or when they need to be done by) is a great way to manage things. I tend to throw everything on one, giant list. Someone once told me not to make more than one list because it will be overwhelming but I think that advice needs to be thrown out the window. Thanks!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Another option is to keep one list and highlight in yellow what MUST be done today. Then you don’t even have to look at the other items until those are crossed off. This way you can keep your long list and keep adding to it, but what you have to tackle is more manageable. Good Luck!

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’ve tried the highlighter. I could do that again but, first, I’m going to try your separate lists. It sounds much more organized and less overwhelmy. (It’s a word now. Because.) 🙂

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  13. List and I don’t work out well. Mostly, I never look at it after I make it. Or I lose it. Or my dogs eat it. Or my son decides to color on it. Or my daughter uses it for her art project. Regardless of where it ends up, I pretty much ignore it once it’s made so the whole checking-things-off bit doesn’t happen.

    Then again, I’ve lost count of all the time I’ve said, “oh yeah… I was going to do that, wasn’t I?”

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      • I don’t know how people keep lists in their heads, but they do. At this point, I’d need to set a reminder to eat, sleep, shower. Forget, you know, fun stuff.

        That is some comic. (Thanks for linking it so neatly.) 😊 I don’t know that I agree with the gender issue. I think that can happen in any relationship but it is sobering and, holy crap, managing IS already a full-time job. “The mental load.” Yes. That.

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  14. Darn straight I live off lists girl! And you’re right, there’s nothing better than scratching things off as they’re done. But oh, that teaspoon is never enough to drown the outpour that quickly refills. Lol, we are definitely on the same legal pad! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Ooh, I’m a bit of a freaky fan of the to-do list. Like Helen, I have a few lists, plus the post-it notes, calendar and my diary reminders. The pad I love the most has five sections: Today, This Week, This Month, Urgent, and Doodles! I bet you can guess which section gets filled the most lol #doodletastic 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • *cringe* More lists. Well, I will definitely give it a try. I’ll just try everything until something works. 😉 But I do like the sections. A lot of people have suggested sections (in differing ways) and it seems much more organized than my huge, cluttered legal pad. #doodletastic

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