After taking a week off writing work last week I managed to tick off two things on my To Do list.
Yep, you read that right. TWO THINGS!
I had plans to knock off the majority of the items on my long list so that I wouldn’t have them hanging over my head as we scream towards Christmas and the end of the year, but it didn’t happen. And as I sat combing nits out of my children’s hair last week it hit me, I can’t keep going like this.
My To Do list is eating me alive!
Even when I feel like I might actually be making some progress, a week like the last one happens, with way too many Dr’s visits and a round of head lice thrown in for good measure, and suddenly, I am even more behind than I was before.
I feel like a slave to all the things on that list, and they are just the extra things, like writing and design work, I am too scared to add the day to day stuff. I’ve tried very hard to say no to new requests, even when I’ve been sorely tempted to say yes, but it’s obviously not been enough.
Just the thought of all the things on the list stresses me out, and when I’m stressed I’m disorganised, scattered, always late, and not a great parent. I am not doing anyone any favours by taking on more than I can handle, least of all me.
Perhaps my thinking was chemically affected by the teatree fumes wafting up from my kid’s lice riddled heads? Or maybe it was the constant rotation of Disney DVDs while I sat combing nits out of their hair? Or perhaps I have just finally come to my senses. I don’t want to be that kind of person. I need a plan to dig myself out of this To Do list black hole and make a plan to stop me falling back in!
How I Tackled My To Dos
I don’t know if this will work, but I need to tackle my to do list, and find a way to keep from being overwhelmed, so this is how I am going to do that.
Keep Up the List Writing.
I used to write a list at the end of each day of all the things I needed to do, remember or think about for the following day. Lately I’ve gotten out of that habit, and that made it easy for my To Do list to spiral out of control. If I really knew all the things I already had on my plate, perhaps I wouldn’t have taken on so much.
I often find it hard to say no. When an email pops into my inbox from a blogger I really like and admire asking me to re-design their blog… oh I so want to say yes…. I know I need to say no, but it’s so hard! Sometimes I think I can squeeze one more thing in, especially when it is something so awesome/important/chance in a life time, and so I do, even when I shouldn’t. No more. I am setting harsh and realistic limits of how many extra things I can take on. I’m also going to make sure I can clearly see when I have already filled up my quota, and what times are likely to be busy and therefore when I should say no even more often.
To make sure I keep on top of this I whipped up this simple monthly planner with a space to write all my ‘work’ commitments (not sure why I feel I need to put the word ‘work’ in inverted commas… there’s some deep seeded neurosis and denial there, I’m sure).
It’s not rocket science but if you’d find it helpful you can download the undated monthly planner here.
This printable is an A4 sized pdf file, you will need a pdf reader such as adobe acrobat to open it. If you are printing on US ‘letter sized’ paper be sure to select ‘fit’ or ‘shrink to fit’ from your printer options.
Please remember that the printables at picklebums.com are for personal use only, you may not sell, share, or link directly to these files.
I can’t do schedules, anything with times on it makes me nervous, but I do need to work on my routine. I need to make sure there is time in my day for things like washing, and school lunches. Time for working and also time for relaxing. Just blocking out the rhythm of our days helps me to keep the balance a little more centred. Even if I don’t stick to it, sitting down and making sure our routine is working well at least gives me something to fall back on when I need to.
Use The Systems I Already Have in Place.
I need to keep menu planning, and keep on keep on top of the organisation for all the kids stuff. \
Just these little things help take the pressure off and make me feel like I am accomplishing something, which goes a long way to getting on top of everything else!
I am not a naturally organised person. I’d like to be, but I’m not. I really need to work at keeping things in check, not biting off more than I can chew and making sure life doesn’t pass be by in a haze of lists.
I saw the above quote pop up on pinterest last week and it made stop and think. I am just me. I will not miss out, life will not pass me by if I do what I do in the way that I need to do it.
So… don’t forget to dance.
I prettied up a little, printed it out and stuck it up so I am always reminded to dance.
You can download it as A4 printable poster here if you like.
What do you do to make sure your To Do list doesn’t eat you alive?
If you are looking for more organisation printables, you can find all kinds of lists, planners and helpful home organisation printables here.
Read the comments or scroll down to add your own:
All you need to do is say that little four letter word, “Lice,” and I start scratching. Thank you very much (not) picklebums. Our lives have been derailed three times since school returned after the spring holidays by sneak attacks of lice. It is hard to think of anything when you keep scratching, keep hunting and keep applying the lice stuff. One of our kids had a severe reaction to the tea tree and eucalyptus lotion, which sent him running around the house screaming and holding his eyes.
Re planning, and timetables, I find some rudimentary organisation goes far (such as managing to enter key school dates and holidays in a calendar) but beyond that, too many lists make me stressed. I do find an impending holiday or trip away can motivate me to do things that have sat undone for months, such as mail that vital letter or sort out the clothes on the kids’ floor.
On that note, I recommend a weekend trip away without kids to motivate you to whip through that long list.
All the best
I totally feel like I need to sit down and spend some time working on a routine for my day/ week/ year. I am okay at the daily stuff, but can’t seem to get enough of a stretch of time to do bigger jobs like sorting out clothes and systems for paperwork. I need structure and scheduling! sounds like a post in the making!
Actually sometimes I do away with the lists. Especially when I realise half or more are non essentials. Yes it feels like I’m always chasing my tail and once the washing is all away the basket is full again but that would be the case even if I were On Top of Things. It’s not always practical but the world doesn’t end if I don’t do a list or complete one. Infact the best thing for me when I *do* write a list – is seeing with my own eyes which stuff matters and which doesn’t and why do I spend so much time worrying about the stuff that doesn’t.
Thank you so much for this post. I want to let you know that I posted a link to your blog in CBH Digital Scrapbooking Freebies, under the Page 7 post on Nov. 07, 2011. Thanks again.
Granma Jill says
Having been through absolutely ridiculous periods of my life when my children were young. My advice is to do one job a day however big or small. For me it is the only way through those interminable lists and so satisfying drawing a line through each task as it is completed. Keep the same list until all the tasks have been eliminated so you have a sense of achievement. Then make a new list.
for me the end of the day list written in the future tense about the day just gone is an immensely satisfying thing – also allows you to forgive and get on with a list for the next day.
and you are so not a ‘bad mother’ – we all have incredibly crap times, moments, hours, whatever but the reality is we are good mothers as we let them finish and then get back on with the job the way we believe in doing it. Don’t judge yourself for falling off the horse and don’t feel guilty for it. Just be amazed that you are the kind of person that will get back on over and over and keep going. Hmm, did that come out preachy?? didn’t mean it to – think you do a fab job and get exhausted just thinking about your balls in the air! go well and have a cup of tea!
I have the problem of putting too many things on my To-Do list. And I just get overwhelmed and bugger all gets done. Or I only get everything half done.
So I am trying to limit my daily list to under 5 things so I have half a chance of achieving things.
I think this is a great idea! A manageable amount, but still list worthy :)
I’ve been making up the girls Christmas schedule and it occurred to me that a similar schedule for myself would be really helpful. So I started making greater use of google calendar and the notepad app on my iphone. Both wonderful tools that I can easily take with me anywhere to refer to.
Veronica @ Mixed Gems says
Sounds like you’re on track with a plan. I can barely keep on top of the basics let alone work commitments. And I’m so far behind in some of those basics too! I daren’t look at my list but I must. Get it done before Christmas, I say! Which reminds me, I Hsve to put Christmas and all its chores on my list too. :-(