Tuesday, October 8, 2019

To do lists or not to do lists (that's the question)

I was going to write a long post about how to make a to-do list. Not that I am very good at that, but usually trying to write about something, doing research and thinking about how I would implement it, helps to get a clear vision about something. But this Monday, having the topic of todo lists on my mind, I realized something else. Something that made me stop in my tracks.

Sometimes it's better not to make a list.

I know... I love lists too. I like to see things in writing, I like to check off the things I've done. I even like to make lists in my planner to be able to look back and see what I've accomplished in the past.

But this particular Monday I needed to do a lot of things. And I do mean an awful lot.
Some daily chores (clean up the kitchen after making breakfast, cleaning the toilet), weekly chores (changing the bed) and some general putting things back where they belong.
I don't know if it's just us, or if this happens to others too, but we tend to make big messes during the weekend. I usually put T.'s tools (I almost wrote toys ;-)) away when he's done using them, but in the weekend I just think "I'll do that on Monday" and go my merry way. I also tend to just drop my stuff on "my" table (a folding table that is a temporary place to store my planner, notebook, knitting, e-reader, books etc. - one day I will have a desk of my own), instead of putting them away as neatly as possible (I have some baskets and bags).
I also needed to fold an put away laundry, mop all the floors, write some emails, prepare some blog posts, work on my blogs and websites, start writing a book or at least a short story ... well, you get it. The list was endless. I know that most planner people say you need to do a braindump in a situation like this and I was getting myself some paper to actually do that. But I already felt overwhelmed and stressed out, knowing it would be a very, very long list.

And then I realized that maybe I should just start doing what I needed to do, instead of wasting valuable time and energy to write it all down.

So I started by writing that e-mail I have been putting off for weeks (you know, eat that frog), cleaned up that kitchen and then I started working from the back of the house. Changed the bed, started the laundry, dusted the bedroom, gave the bathroom a quick wipe, moved the shoe rack to the place I had been meaning to move it to for over a week, put away some tools, cleaned the toilet, reorganized my table, swept the floors, etc., etc. (I'm not going to list everything, that would be very boring, but I think this isn't even a third of what I did)
By the end of the day, I had done so much! And even though I love to cross things off lists, I did feel as satisfied as I would have if I had made a list. Maybe even more, because now I was just happy to look at my clean house and thinking that tomorrow there would be time to sit with my laptop and take care of the computer work.

So now I have a new strategy: I'm going to rely more on my brain and my eyes and less on my lists and schedules, especially for household tasks. After all, I know what needs to be done, I've been a housewife for almost three decades (Um, really? Oh my, time flies!). If I only write down the things I tend to forget or that are one time only, I'll not only save a lot of time writing things down, but I think it will also help with my stress levels.
And isn't life a lot more fun without stress?

(now if I could only trust myself to not make lists for my other work... I'm actually scared that I'll forget to do taxes, though that never happens)

Do you make lists for everything you need to do?


  1. Not for things around the house. I make them for the crafting so I can see what's on the need-now, what can slide to do-later. But they are really arbitrary deadlines, so I guess I don't really need a list. I think for me the lists keep me from starting all the things! It makes my crafting more intentional.

    1. I love your crafting lists, they are really inspiring. When (if ever) I have more time, I want to make lists like that too.

  2. I write lists as I need them, If I don't write down some things I will forget. I don't do a bullet journal because daily tasks stressed me out!!

    1. Ha, same for me! I tried often, but it just added stress instead of making things better.