Wednesday, June 3, 2009

When Your To-Do List Keeps Growing!

I used to be a pretty organized person. In my other life I ran a division of a major corporation for goodness sakes. Then I became a mom. Then I became a consultant. Then I became an author. Then I became a website founder. You get the picture.

I'm wearing a lot of hats--as most women are. Wife, mother, Chief Operating Officer of Our House, Inc., Business Owner, Website editor, Writer and chief promo person and my most important job--mother to a teenager (you think it will get easier as they get older but it just gets different.)

Lists used to be my saving grace. Write it down and it got done. Simple.

But it doesn't seem to work as well anymore. I have a white board in my office for a to-do list and one that gives me my week at a glance so I can't ignore it. But the problem is, my list is getting longer. I accomplish one task and two more take its place.

You'd think in this day and age of technology things would be easier. I look at those who scratched out a living on the ranches of the West and wonder what am I complaining about--and whether this farm girl would measure up. Life back then was hard. Work was from dawn to after dusk and no matter how hard you worked, the hand of fate could take it away in a storm or pestilence or financial collapse.

Wait a minute--that sounds an awful lot like life today!

I'm up at 6 a.m. to get my child off to school, work my day job and fit in housework, writing/promoting and being a mom in between and far into the evening as well as on weekends. The only difference is that my day job isn't physcial work (I have to work-out to get my exercise these days!) and my housework isn't the kind of drudgery that consumed the ranch wife of the 19th century.

And here's another, important difference--I'm doing things I enjoy--mostly! So I guess I'll count my blessings, make my list and keep trying to get it cut down! If anyone has any tips on getting organized and trimming that to-do list, please share. I'd sure appreciate the advice!


Emma Lai said...

Anne're definitely not alone! When my list gets too crazy, I take a look at it and figure out the tasks that will take the least time then I knock all of them out. There's normally a huge number of them. Then I go back and reprioritize the list. It always makes me feel as if I accomplished something.

Kathye Quick said...

I remember having teenagers. That means you're also Tranportation Officer, Money Lender, Reserch tech, Education Supervisor, Patrol Officer and a whole host of other things!!

Mary Ricksen said...

Delegate. That's the only chance you have!
That and maybe a house-cleaner if you're lucky!

Anne Carrole said...

Thanks Emma, maybe that's what I need--to do a few quick things so I get a feeling of accomplishment.

Kathye--how right you are--And I love the Patrol Officer hat--not!

You're right, Mary. I've defintely got to get better at that delegation thing :)! Thanks for stopping by.

Autumn Jordon said...

Hi, Anne. Boy do I know where you're coming from. I've asked for time in a bottle for the past twenty years and I've yet to get it. I don't like lists.They can be defeating.

A few things I've done and they seem to help are using a calendar and mark deadlines or due dates. I try to meet deadlines three days early--allow for life. Also,never pick up the same paper twice. Receive a bill, write the check. Mark the outside of envelope where the postage stamp would go with date to mail. Receive an email inviting you to a blog and the topic looks interesting, visit right away. If not delete.

Don't have time to clean the whole house, clean one room. No one see the private areas. Kitchen and bathrooms are priority.

I have a few more but I'll save them for another time.

Hope this helps.

KaiaLogan said...

Anne, I am so with you! I have two young kids, and though they're now out of diapers it feels like there's always something to take care of, no matter how much I do--esecially now that I'm heading into "published author" territory!

The best piece of advice I received recently (apart fom that one from Autumn about never pick up the same piece of paper twice, that's fabulous!) is to "do the next thing". Sometimes when I'm feeling utterly swamped, that's what gets me through.

I also like Emma's idea of knocking off a few quickies from The List to feel like you're getting things rolling, because sometimes that's what we need most in order to be able to keep going.

Great topic, it's always nice to know we're not alone.

Luci Weston said...

I always think if I get a few things checked off, it was a good day! I do try to only include "do-able" tasks...leaving off items like "put on a new roof!"

The most important thing we can do for ourselves while we are doing for others is to add at least one "to do" for oneself. Nap, pedicure, write in journal, etc.

Anne Carrole said...

Hi Autumn! Calendar with deadlines--I think I could even use aol's calendar alerts for that. And I need to get in the habit of not touching paper twice!

Kaia--You know, you're right-- I do get overwhelmed by the sheer size of "the list" rather than focusing on the next thing. Good Advice

Luci--I love the idea of putting "self" on that to-do-list :)

THANKS everyone for all this great advice. It's good to know I'm not alone and to learn what has worked for those of you who have traveled this path!:)

Rebecca J. Clark said...

I wish I had some great advice for you, but I don't. I am the proverbial hamster in a wheel: I keep running and running and running...but getting nowhere fast. :)

I used to write to do lists, but my lists would be so long, I'd feel like a failure at the end of the day because so much was left unchecked. Now, I just write down THREE THINGS THAT MUST GET DONE. Generally, I can get those three things done.

Love Autumn's advice for never picking up the same piece of paper twice, and the advice about blogs.


Anne Carrole said...

Thanks Rebecca for stopping in! Ahhh prioritization, I defintely need to get better at that. Anyway, it's somewhat comforting to know others share the same issue!:)

Anonymous said...

Anne! You made me feel so good -- I'm NOT the "only one!" I developed my own "To Do List" and it groups things together, which helps me do a block of things, one right after another, making me feel as though I'm getting things done. : ) I think it used to be called "assembly line," and I'll give you a copy of it next time our paths cross!

Kathy Pacheco, NJRW