As transitions come and go in life, I have found my method of making to-do lists evolve.
I used to be bound by the clock. To-do lists looked something like this:
Early a.m. – write for 45 mins.
Short walk/workout 20 mins.
a.m. grad school work 2 hrs
essay submitting 1 hr
And so on.
Life with kids wants to throw clocks and time out the window. Rarely can I plan a full hour of doing one thing. And if I do, that hour either flies by and I am nowhere near finishing the task I gave myself just 60 minutes to do, or that hour is pockmarked with interruptions. (“Mommy, Daddy and I are coloring chalk outside! Mommy, I don’t know where my ball is.” The phone rings, etc.)
For a while I marched through this method of to-dos anyway, keeping a loose list of tasks to accomplish in my head. The problem was, I was so stuck on time (how much time are you spending on XX project?) that I lost sight of the importance of quality. I was more focused on quantity (eight hours on a project in a given week was surely better than a paltry two hours) of work time than the work that was actually being done.
And you know what? I felt totally unsatisfied. No matter how much time I poured into my work, I rarely emerged feeling accomplished, excited or refreshed. More often than not, I felt more tired and more stressed, shaking my fist in frustration over there never being enough time do to anything.
“Time is like money,” my husband said at the dinner table recently. “We can’t ever seem to have enough.”
He’s right, if we let ourselves think that way. But here is another perspective to consider: What if time doesn’t matter?
My most recent to-do list looks like this:
Wash 2 loads of clothes
Fold 2 loads of clothes
Anderson family reunion project work
Small business history work
Play with my son
Take dog for walk
Tasks listed in no particular order, with absolutely no time frame. If I spend even just five minutes on one of them, I get to cross the task of my list. Task, for today, completed. Moving on. Mission today accomplished.
I feel so much more freedom in structuring my days this way, rather than being bound by the clock. True, sometimes we have no choice but to be slaves to the clock. Appointments happen, obligations have to be met, certain things do require a specific amount of time.
But many daily tasks and projects don’t have to be so structured. I find with my newest version of the to-do list, more freedom and a much greater sense of accomplishment.
Sometimes, less truly is more.