To Do or Not To Do Lists


I’m a list maker. I freely admit it. I sometimes have a notepad on the kitchen island full of to do, to get, to make lists. Sometimes the lists on scrap paper.  Other times, they’re completely and solely in my mind — those are either dangerously on the edge of being forgotten or so ingrained in my thinking that they are habit.  Sometimes my lists aren’t so much lists as they are a sort of free association collection of words. But, they make sense to me and I can usually figure them out.

With little boys and little sleep, I can be completely forgetful and flaky and scatterbrained.  A list is my personal assistant, it helps remind me what’s next or what I’m supposed to be doing.  It keeps me motivated, it keeps me going.

I love lists.

I love the satisfaction of being able to cross off each task. I’ll add things to my list that I’ve already done just so I can cross it off and feel accomplished (‘fess up, you do it too. Don’t try to deny it!)

Accomplishment is such a valuable and encouraging feeling, especially when you’re a mom going through days of never-ending promptings to use please and thank you, reminders to not jump on the couch but to please go use the bathroom, and all around chaos that seems to never improve despite my best efforts. Crossing off that task of “get out of bed” is a great way to feel successful at the beginning of the day.

But as much as I love seeing a full list full of scribbles and lines through it, I just as much despise seeing a list without one single thing marked off. I feel like a total and utter loser. A lovely reminder that I’ve accomplished nothing.

I hate lists!

I hate ending the day with all the things I haven’t done that day staring back at me. And the list never addresses what I did do on those days. Important things like breaking up World War III, snuggling and reading with the boys, feeding the bottomless monsters every other minute, remembering to drink water and hydrate myself, spending time outside with the boys, watching them at swim class, going from wiping one bum to the next…  My to do lists generally include NONE of those things so instead of feeling like a fabulous mom because my children and I survived another day, I feel like an complete flop with a messy house and no time for a hobby.

Have I mentioned I hate lists? They are of the devil!

So, after feeling like a To Do failure, a To Don’t in fact, I decided to stop making lists. But that lasted about 20 seconds. But when I started my next list, I decided I’d stop making daily To Do lists as they were constant reminders of what I couldn’t get done. Instead, I made one To Do List for the week and only put my top priorities on it. Things that I would very easily forget or things that I desperately wanted to make sure I did. Return library books.  Order valve replacements for our camelbaks. Clean the bathroom.  Shower.  I found that I no longer felt like such a loser and was able to appreciate all the non lists things I did that day. And by the end of the week the lists was pretty much completed. Basically I lowered my expectations.  It’s awesome.

I love lists.

And then there are vacation planning to do lists…but that’s another story.

To Do or not To Do Lists? Which are you?


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