Managing your home in the middle of life’s busyness is easier with the help of a to-do list.
I’m a list maker. I make lists for everyday. I make lists for what needs done around my house. I make lists for long-term goals. And I make lists with small action steps to accomplish these goals. You can find these lists – always made on paper – all around my house.
You see, as I try to manage my home (and life!) in the middle of everyday busyness, I’ve found the only way I can stay on track is with the help of to-do lists.
I need to write down my chores and commitments – or I’ll forget about them.
I’ve tried to go through my days without a list, but I forget what I need to do. Even when I have a good routine in place and a workable housekeeping strategy, if something as basic as laundry isn’t written down, I’ll unintentionally skip it.
Instead of being frustrated with my forgetfulness, I try to give myself grace. I realize I’m busy. I realize everyday life – and parenting! – distracts me from basic chores. So I compensate for my reality with lists.
If you could use some help in creating or fine-tuning your own to-do lists, here’s what has worked really well for me:
When do I make a list?
On weekends, I try to map out my coming week with daily to-do lists:
- I check my calendar for meetings, appointments and other commitments. I add them to my daily lists.
- Then I think about what I need to do in the week. I add it to my daily lists.
- Then I think about what I’d like to try to fit in – and add it.
Every night, I look at my list for the next day. Sometimes it needs completely changed. Sometimes I need to add things I didn’t finish. And sometimes, it looks just fine.
By taking the time to make your list – and then tweaking it when you need to – you can have a good idea of what your day might look like ahead of time. At the very least, you’ll have a basic direction for your day.
How I structure my lists
Depending on my day, my list may be fairly unstructured – I think of a basic order of when I should do things, and write them down.
For example, a typical day’s basic to-do list might look like:
- Time with God
- Write blog post
- Dishes and laundry
- Put away etc. around teh house
But on a really, really busy day – if I’m preparing for company, planning a deep cleaning day, trying to purge to create more of a haven, or preparing for vacation, I’ll break up my day’s chores into morning afternoon and evening chores like this:
- Weed garden
- Drop off recycling
- Pay bills
- More laundry
- Return texts and respond to e-mails
- Clean up the house
- Put laundry away
I’ve noticed that some days my plans are much more ambitious than they should be – and I’d need about 40 hours in a day to get everything done. Unless I’m miraculously having a Superwoman kind of day and somehow manage to fit everything in, I need to try to do my tasks on a different day. It’s OK.
The point of a to-do list, though, is to serve as a reminder of what we want to try to do. It’s not a rigid checklist – just a helpful reminder. If you don’t accomplish everything in a day, simply move your goals to another day later in the week.
When you do complete a task, enjoy the huge feeling of accomplishment when you cross it off. On some days, that accomplishment’s enough to add a little pep and encouragement to keep going.
How often do you use a to-do list? Are you overly ambitious with your lists … or fairly realistic?
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