The Big Fat To-Do List

Posted 28 October, 2015 by Trish in Life / 22 Comments


To Do List

If I told y’all that I was easily overwhelmed, you wouldn’t be surprised, right? I’m sure I’ve made mention of this many times on the blog–and really given my tendency to take on ALL the things, I guess it makes sense. I keep thinking to myself that if I could just get organized, that life would fall into place and my days would run much more smoothly.


Lately, I’ve been feeling particularly overwhelmed. Work has been busier than normal (a good thing!), and the girls are keeping me on my toes in the mornings and evenings. Plus…that 31 week coconut I’m carrying around is starting to really exhaust me. My energy levels are much lower than I remember them being with either of my other pregnancies, and I keep wondering how I still have 9 weeks to go.

But mostly I feel overloaded. And overwhelmed. I went to twitter, as I often do, and several people told me to write it all down. I grabbed a blank piece of paper and started brainstorming all of the things that I wanted to get done. Big things, small things–every single thing I could think of (though I have not added blogging type things to my list). The picture above is of my second iteration of the to do list after my first one fell apart after being handled so many times.

How’s the list going?

As you can see–I have some big items on the list–things that probably won’t get done for weeks. On the other hand, it feels good just to get those items out of my brain. I know that I want to do them, they’re on the list, but now they don’t have to nag at me.

Other than feeling a bit less mentally burdened, though, I’ve found that the list has been incredibly motivational. There’s nothing better than being able to cross an item off the list (and yes, you agreed on twitter that YES it’s OK to put something on the list just to cross it off.

Organizational Tweet

The list has helped me organize my weekends and the errands that I need to run. I’ve been more focused at lunch and in the evenings. I can feel some of the clutter moving away from my kitchen (not to be relocated, but actually filed or tossed). It’s prompted me ask for assistance from Scott for some of the things I need help with. It’s also helped me let go of some of the tasks that aren’t that important–I ended up not hanging the fall leaves but rather just laying them across my dining room table. I’ve completed things that I’ve been thinking about for months.

I’ve heard of Bullet Journaling and because of the list I looked to see if this might be something I’d be interested in. Maybe in time, but for now the paper list works great and I carry it around wherever I go. Now, if only I could get a blog related list started–maybe things would start looking a little more regular around here! Hmmm…maybe I should add that to the list.

Do you keep a written to do list? What gets/keeps you motivated to get things done?


22 Responses to “The Big Fat To-Do List”

  1. Lists are incredibly motivating for me too!

    Getting things done and then crossing them off a list makes me feel like I accomplished something, no matter how small a task it was. I’ve learned that making lists is the only way to keep me going when I’m almost but not quite done with a project and my motivation is lacking.

    Then there is the anxiety-relieving aspect of lists. Things I have to do pop up in my thoughts at random moments during the day, and they cause a few seconds of anxiety every time. Having them all written down on a piece of paper – and I do think physical lists work better than ones on my computer or phone – makes me feel more calm, like I’ve already taken the first step towards completing them and so they don’t nag at me all day long. It’s ridiculous how easily our brains are tricked!

  2. I bullet journal!! I used to use 3 or 4 planners at a time for different things, but I’m more a person who needs to see my list in front of my face at all times or I won’t remember to do it. I love bullet journaling (even planners in general) because it’s like a brain dump and I don’t have to remember all the things I need to do. I would also say yes to your Twitter comment. I write it down just to cross it off or I won’t remember that I did it and then I’ll freak out if I remember I was supposed to do it and it’s not on my list. LOL!! I’m very scatterbrained without my bullet journal. I make mine pretty too….I love stickers!

  3. Meg

    Feeling overwhelmed day in and day out was what prompted me to return to a paper planner! I still use Google calendar for all my appointments, etc. (and that baby is color-coded and locked down), but I make notes each day of everything I want to/need to do and use the margins for meal planning, too. I feel SO much better since I developed this system, and love creating little check boxes to “check off” everything as I go!

    Also, totally cool to write something down just to cross it off. I do that all the time! Practically speaking, it reminds me that I’ve already accomplished something that was on my brain — and then I have proof that it was done if, later on, I worry it wasn’t completed. If that makes sense? Ha!

  4. Ti

    I bought a really fancy, fun, planner for 2016 and I can’t wait to use it. I use a monthly planner. Have for years but these days, I have too much going on daily for a monthly to work. My new one is a daily planner with space to really list stuff out. Yes. I love lists and they do help me immensely but only if I have the time to actually sit down and write them out. I tried to last night three times and all three times I forgot what I was doing after getting up to get my pen. I swear. I am losing it.

  5. I don’t make to do lists. At least not often. I do keep a calendar, which I guess could be considered a to do list, but even that doesn’t encompass everything. I generally just use my own head to keep track of things–which is probably less effective than I’d like to think. I mean, I am old and often forgetful.

    My work calendar has built in task reminders and I can’t stand it when the items pop up. “Go Away!” I want to shout. Anyway, I often do things last minute, which is probably not the best way to go.

    All this to say, my methods probably are not very effective. LOL

  6. It’s funny you say that about bullet journaling, because it was bullet journaling that started allowing me to take my list everywhere! Heh. I just reviewed the technique last week on my blog. My little moleskin fits into my purse perfectly, and goes everywhere with me. I adore the technique and it oddly does help me to get things done. :)

  7. I keep a list in the Notes app on my phone so that I can always have it with me. I don’t get the satisfying crossing-out feeling but deleting a line is nice enough. I’m not always good at keeping it current though. I tend to go back to it when I’m feeling like my brain is overloaded. Then I use it for a few days/weeks to get back on track. I don’t think I would ever want to do something more structured like journaling/planner because I don’t want to spend the time or resources on that. Lists should be disposable.

  8. I use an app called TickTick for day to day things. That’s about it. I do have Google Calendar for longer term things, but day to day, TickTick. It helps me with reminders.

    As for YOU :), with only nine weeks to go, I wouldn’t be too worried about getting a lot done. Have Scott do it. :) Of course, I’m thinking it’s not like you haven’t been through this before ;) so what am I telling you for? I don’t know.

  9. I looked into bullet journaling, but it was a little too free for me; I need more structure to my planning. The last couple months I started working out of a planner, with a daily to-do, and it’s been so helpful in making sure I keep up on things that need to be done regularly, because after I do the thing, I not only cross it off today’s list, but flip ahead and put down when it next needs to be done, whether that’s in two days (clean the litter boxes) or six weeks (get a haircut).

    I’m most productive if I sit down with my planner each night and figure out what I want to tackle the next day. But lately I’ve not been great about that. So I’m staying on top of all that routine stuff, but the pile of papers that need to be gone through is still staring at me… along with lots of other big things that don’t affect the day-to-day but still need to get done.

    Still, I’m better off now than I was in those early months of adjusting to motherhood.

  10. I do keep lists, sometimes just calendar entries of things that need to be done, but nothing as organized as your bit fat todo list ;) Good luck missy :)

  11. Oh my gosh, I couldn’t function without my lists! I keep a small notebook in my purse and it’s the only way I can remember to get some things done.

    It also helps for me to write out goals so o can make a plan to tackle them.

  12. Kay

    I’ve always been a list type person. Always. And an actual list on paper, written down. Not notes on my phone or my calendar on my phone. If I don’t write it down, it doesn’t count. I still have had times in my life where my anxious mind would go over and over tasks, even if they were written down. That hasn’t happened often though and usually it’s when I’m extra anxious about bad stuff, like family illnesses and things. I totally support putting something on the list in order to cross it out. Totally. LOL

  13. I know on YouTube there is a huge community of those who bullet journal or keep other kinds of journals to keep track of to-do lists. I’ve tried a couple of thing but for me I think what works is keeping a small weekly to-do list. If I write too many things I can very easily get overwhelmed too. Hope you find something that works!

  14. Every once in a while I feel compelled to list everything I need to get done. Usually in the new year or spring … I think that’s when I feel that I NEED to get it all together. lol. It can definitely feel overwhelming, but it sure is nice when you see multiple items crossed off!

  15. I had to laugh at your tweet Trish cos I SO do that… put stuff on my #ToDo list which I’ve partially done or almost done… just so I can cross it off. And then sometimes I put minuscule things on there…. (like: open phone book; find number for electrician; ring electrician etc) just so I get a sense of achievement! :-)

  16. I think that a bullet journal would work for me, but the thing I hate about paper planners is the desk space they use up!

    I recently found a folder up sheet of legal paper from when we bought our first house in Rapid City in 2004. It was my dream todo list for that house, and included stuff for Tristan’s nursery (I was pregnant when we bought it.) It’s amazing how many of those things we never did. At the house we are in now, the dream list is getting done much quicker. I guess we learned the first time.

  17. I am just like you. I feel super overwhelmed too often. I take on too many things and want to be on top of all of them, all the time. Love keeping lists, love putting items on my lists just to cross them off. I do list-projects that involve making lists. I do projects once in a while (like just this past week) that are decluttering projects which involve me making tons of lists of things to do. Sigh, sometimes I think I am overwhelmed because I don’t have a list, not necessarily because I need to do a ton of things, which also contributes sometimes.

    Oh, and? I love posts like the one you wrote that talk about lists and todos, in general anything to do with productivity.

  18. I am fickle about keeping a list for home stuff, but for work I live and die by my to-do list. I have a list for regular stuff I need to get done at work, that is constantly changing and updating as priorities change, and I also have a list for each employee as it keeps me organized on an individual level. It’s so helpful and I don’t think I could do my job without these lists. I would love to get better about keeping a list for home but I just can’t seem to stay consistent with it. Someday.

  19. I have been bullet journaling since August and I love it! I started with a cheap composition book from Walmart and I spruce it up with washi tape and stickers. I love the versatility of it – if something doesn’t work, you do something different the next day/week/month. I’m such a geek, I stalk #bulletjournal on Instagram!

    I can’t believe it’s 9 weeks until your new babe is here! I know the last couple of months are torture, so I hope you get what you need to done :)

  20. I keep meaning to write a blog post about this — I actually use four different lists/journals/planners/calendars — all but one is on paper. It just works for me.

  21. I’ve reached the point where I put every little thing down on the to-do list. Otherwise, you can feel like you got nothing done even when you’ve been busy all evening: little things like “put the towels from the kids bathroom down the laundry chute,” “sweep the kitchen floor,” “water the kitchen plants.” I feel so much better at the end of the day!