Each morning, I used to sit down and make a to-do list of all the things I thought needed to be accomplished that day. I looked around my house at all the areas that I thought needed attention. I checked my calendar to see what appointments I had scheduled. I looked at the homeschool plan for the day to see what needed to get done.
When I was finished making my to-do list, it was always HUGE. This list would grow throughout the day I always kept thinking of things to add. Just looking at the number of items on my list was enough to get my heart rate up. Panic would set in as I thought of the enormous task before me. Sometimes, I would get overwhelmed and just give up and not do anything.
When I talked with my mom friends, I found we were in the same boat. To much to do and not enough hours in the day. There had to be a better way.
One day, I came to my senses. I took a look at my ridiculously long to-do list and decided I needed to look at my day a little differently. I still make a to-do list, but I tweaked it to make it manageable and so it wouldn’t give me panic attacks.
Tasks Vs. Routines
Part of the reason for my huge to-to list was I had listed every little thing I needed to do. There were many things on that list that were routines that I would do anyway even if they weren’t on the list.
For instance, I always put a load of laundry in first thing in the morning followed by cleaning out the dishwasher. We always clean house on Fridays. We homeschool everyday. Those types of things don’t need to be on a to-do list. They are part of my daily routine.Tasks are things that I may only do weekly or monthly like pay bills, get groceries, or wash the car.
When I started only adding things to my to-do list that were outside of my normal routine, my list was so much smaller and looked doable. My early morning anxiety and feeling of never reaching the end of the list miraculously ended.
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Do Not Over To-Do Yourself
I came to the realization that I cannot do it all. I cannot work from home, homeschool the kids, keep a perfectly clean house, cook gourmet meals, run the kids to all their activities, volunteer for everything, and keep up with friends and family while keeping my sanity and, you know, sleep!
Cutting back on what I expected from myself was huge. I was adding more to my to-do list than was humanly possible to deliver. Changes had to be made in what I expected from myself. I had to start thinking about what was possible for me to actually get done in a day.
There is no prize or award for the mom with the longest to-do list.
As a rule, I try to no add more than 3 or 4 tasks to my to-do list each day. That makes the list manageable and makes my day less stressful. And, my day is still full!
Since I know my routines and my families schedule, I know what days are busier than others. I know not to add extra things to my to-do list on Friday, because it is already full of house cleaning. If I know I have appointments on a given day, my to-do list will be very short. I know what I can get done and what I cannot.
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When making my to-do list, I think critically. First, I determine what actually NEEDS to be done and what I would have liked to be done today, but could wait until tomorrow or the next day or… Usually I find only 3 or 4 things that actually have to be done that day, sometimes less. The rest can wait.
Prioritizing your to-do list can also help you see what is truly important in life. It helps put things into perspective and helps to see where your time is best spent.
Find Some Down Time
Take a nap. Go for a walk. Grab coffee with a friend. Make downtime a priority. Add it to your to-do list. Give yourself permission to have a little fun and relaxation. It’s alright to enjoy life and just LIVE! You will be a better wife, mom, and friend for it.
The Most Important To-Do
There will always be something else to add to the to-do list, something else to accomplish. Don’t get so caught up in the to-dos that you miss this time with your family. What will be more memorable – cleaning out the fridge or that impromptu field trip?
Sometimes you have to skip reading your emails and play a game with the kids. Even busy moms need to take a break from cleaning and laundry to run through a few puddles or play in the rain. Don’t miss the most important to-dos!
What does your to-do list look like? Does it stress you out?