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August 29, 2008

To do lists suck

JenniferTo do lists suck.  All you organized people who swear by to do lists can't really be moms, can you?  How do you do it?  I mean, to be frank, the "to do" list just doesn't work in my mommy world.   

Because of some stupid enlightening seminar I attended years ago, I make a to do list every evening for the next day.  I make this list even though I went to that seminar 16 years ago.  My work sent me to the seminar - it was supposed to give me the tools to be a super great, organized, efficient person.

And, you know, it did work when it was just me.  Before I was married.  Before children.  Before the guinea pig, cat or dog.

But really, ever since I became a wife, mother and caretaker of assorted animals, the "to do" list just doesn't work.

Every night, I make a carefully thought out, numbered to do list.

And the next day, by 10 o'clock in the morning, my organized, numbered to do list looks like a 3 year old drew it.  Arrows going here and there.  Cross-outs and additions.  Strange words scrawled and scrunched and squeezed.

Life just throws shit at you daily, and the "to do" list doesn't hold up.  In fact, it mocks me daily about what I don't get done, and the things that just keep rolling over.  I think some things are probably left over from 2002.

Last weekend I was going to get ready for a garage sale, finish the laundry pile before the new school year, and do some grocery shopping.  That's a manageable to do list for a weekend, right?

Hah.  What did I do instead?  Early Saturday morning my husband's car got broken into.  So, Saturday involved watching the kids while he made a police report.  Then, we decided to get a dog since this is the second time his car has been broken into in the last 3 weeks - long story, but it appears a gang is targeting the neighborhood.  So, we spent several hours at the local shelter and adopted a dog. 

The dog spent Saturday night joyfully barking at raccoons, and I spent most of the night wondering how pissed off my neighbors were.  Sunday was the vet and washing everything to remove fleas.  And I didn't get the laundry I needed to get done done because I was washing bedding and blankets.

Monday - a sick child.  Work interrupted.  Take child to doctor.  Take child to work because can't go back to day care for 24 hours.  Child makes it difficult to get work done.  Take work home to do in evening, thereby pushing everything off to Tuesday.

So, weekend to do list carried into Monday now carried into Tuesday. 

Early Tuesday morning (4 a.m.) and most of Tuesday - washing a skunked dog and bedding.  And, just in case you haven't had the experience, skunk oil REALLY REALLY stinks. 

Weekend to do list, Monday to do list and Tuesday to do list now on Wednesday.  But, of course, life just keeps getting in the way of that stupid to do list.  So now I have a large mountain of laundry, absolutely no groceries (chicken & stars soup & peanut butter cracker sandwiches for dinner), and even more items on my to do list, because, of course, there is always more.  The guinea pig needs food.  My husband is complaining about the piles of disorganized stuff for the garage sale.  My son's soccer cleats are too small, and he has to have cleats or he can't play.

And so it goes. 

So, I've finally decided to abandon my "to do" list.  I'm not going to abandon the 5 minutes I spend every night collecting my thoughts and organizing my day, at least in my head.  I think that is productive.  But, I've finally realized that the actually putting pen to paper with a "to do" list just isn't working for me, and it is making me crazy.  Instead, I'm going to pick 1 thing to do and go with that for the day (not including work).

So how do you stay on top of it?


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