The Attack of the To Do List

This week I’ve experimented with efficiency and making yet another desperate attempt to do more stuff with less time.  The lie that I keep telling myself is that I don’t have time to all the things that I would like and therefore shouldn’t bother trying because I’m just going to fail and get frustrated. When I’m frustrated I’m not happy which rubs off on the kids which in turn makes everyone grumpy.

The truth is I do have plenty of time, but it rarely comes in chunks large enough to feel useful.  On a good day there is one two-hour chunk when the kids are at school and baby is napping.  However, that’s also the time I use for scheduling anything else I need to do when the older kids aren’t around.  I might get this time for actually working on my writing two and maybe three times a week.  If I want to do more than that it must be shoehorned between all the other stuff.

The rest of my time is broken into crumbs and bites, some are less than five minutes, some can be as long as fifteen.  This is where having a written to do list helps me.  If I know I have about five minutes before I have to wake up the kids I can look at the list and see that I need to get a load of laundry started, and hey – I have time for that!  The day is peppered with these tiny windows of time where the kids are happy and I can check another item off the list and before I know it I’ve actually accomplished something.

IMG_2366I have to set limits however.  With some things on the list, like researching different subjects, I tend to get lost while looking through all the different websites.  If I’m not careful an hour will slip away before I know it.  That is, if the kids don’t find me first.  That’s where a timer is my friend.  After ten minutes I need to be done and move on.  It’s not that I don’t love learning about new things, but I have lots of other things that I also need to be doing.

Then there are those things that I really don’t like doing because they are daunting and I feel like I’m going to mess it up.  One of the biggest of these is meal planning for my family.  There are too many variables and the task is overwhelming.  The meals must be healthy and appealing so the kids will want to eat them, they can’t take too long to make, and the ingredients should be in season when possible.  Just thinking about it makes me want to go surf Facebook and forget that little bodies insist on being fed.  Again, the timer is my friend.  For 10 minutes a day I can search for a few ideas and recipes and chances are by the time shopping day rolls around I’ll have found a few that I want to try.

I’ve only been at this for a week, but I can already see a change in my attitude and my home.  I’m happier that things are getting done and that all those little things that have bothered me are finally being addressed.  I’ve had more time for the things I’ve wanted to do and that’s always a good thing!


About Jodi

Jodi L. Milner is a writer, mandala enthusiast, and educator. Her epic fantasy novel, Stonebearer’s Betrayal, was published in November 2018 and rereleased in Jan 2020. She has been published in several anthologies. When not writing, she can be found folding children and feeding the laundry, occasionally in that order.
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4 Responses to The Attack of the To Do List

  1. I like a checklist also. Not only does it help me remember what I need to do, it’s satisfying to check it off.

  2. librarylady says:

    I feel your pain. Whenever I have any free time, I have about eighteen things I want to do with it. Meal planning was never my forte either, but sounds like you’ve made it more “palatable” with your plan. (I used to work out a list of a month’s worth of meals and use it over and over again. No one ever noticed.)

    • Jodi says:

      I’ve been trying to expand our standard repertoire of kid food – a gal can only eat mac and cheese so many times before going a little nuts. I’ve found some really yummy sounding dishes that I’m eager to try. After a whole day of trying to fill in the gaps with getting stuff done I have to have some unstructured time in the evening. Then it’s time to put my feet up and read and unwind.

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