Making Peace with My To-Do List

Me and my “to do” list parted ways about a year ago.   It was never just one list.  It was lots of very long lists.  Work lists, family lists, school lists, holiday lists.  On the weekends, my husband and I would make a mammoth mutual list of “to dos” that would live on our kitchen counter from Friday eve to Monday morn.

 It’s well known in my household that I get crazy pleasure from two things – being the first to open the Christmas cards and checking off completed items on the “to do” list.   Therefore, my sweet husband would even let me cross-off his finished projects.  Not to let an opportunity for a good ribbing pass, he would gently pat my shoulder and ask, “Now, do you feel better?” 

That’s the problem.  My lists had become so unweilding and unrealistic that I was feeling pretty unfulfilled with the whole list-making exercise.  Plus, if everything didn’t get done, I felt down-right depressed.  Then, one day – I had it.  I told him, no more lists.  Plus, I didn’t even want to see his lists lying about thumbing its nose at me.  He didn’t believe me at first. 

That was about a year ago.  When the holidays arrived, I found myself scribbling notes here and there.  Then, last week my online book club selection arrived.  “Take the Cake —  A working mom’s guide to grabbing a slice of the life you’ll love.”  It was a 150-page how-to book that I devoured over two cups of coffee.

If author MF Chapman had the secrets to surviving the everyday juggle and achieving one’s dreams – I’m in (even if it means making peace with the “to do” list).  The good news was that her suggested “to do” list was a completely different form factor then my long and detailed lists.  Chapman’s list was divided into four quadrants that represent each area of my life (me, family, work and blog).   

Sadly, the “me” quadrant only included one item … yoga.  And, the funny thing is that I haven’t exercised in years and have only done yoga twice in the last month (ever).  The majority of my “to dos” fell into the family/work camp and the week’s lists barely fit into the quadrant.   It was pitiful. 

When my husband saw the list, he asked, “Where am I?  Do ‘we’ go under ‘me’ or is that a ‘family’ item.” Ummm…. hmmm.  I didn’t know how to answer that, but I did know I wanted my own quadrant (for goodness sakes!).  Maybe, I need another quadrant “we.”  Is it possible to have five quadrants?  Again – pitiful.

For about a month, I’ve been looking at my list.  Many of the little items have been crossed off, which has left me contemplating the big things.  If the list and are going to co-exist, there has to be some rules.  The first rule being that the smalls stuff that clutters my life and hurts my head needs its own everyday list – preferably on a tiny post it that can be tossed daily. 

The best thing about Chapman’s “to do” list is that it was about achieving the life’s most important goals, while managing the everyday – which means I need to find a place for “we” and “me” in my list.  For that alone – it’s worth raising the white flag and making peace with my list.

Disclosure:  I received a complimentary copy of “Take the Cake.”  If you would like to read more blog posts inspired on “a working mom’s guide to grabbing a slice of the life you’ll love,” please visit From Left to Write online book club.

2 Responses to “Making Peace with My To-Do List”

  1. Dylan Says:

    Thanks for sharing. A quick sectioning out of my to-do list into quadrants was revealing (it helped me see where my worries/priorities are concentrated) as well as clarifying (it is way easier to see where I need to take action without having to think about everything at once). This was especially true with the me column… as it made it simpler to see how easily I can make something happen each day for myself. Thanks again!

  2. Take the Cake by M.F. Chapman – A From Left to Write Book Club | Says:

    […] Michele from Read Out Loud is making peace with her to-do list […]

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