My love/hate relationship with To-Do lists

To-do lists are that constant reminder for moms of tasks or errands that we need or intend to accomplish.  All moms have to-do lists, whether or not we follow or finish them is another story, but we all have these lists. 

I have several to-do lists – one for school, work, errands to run, what needs to be done at home, etc.  Some of my lists are written on paper, some in my iPhone, some just jumbled in my head.  As I think about all of these to-do lists that I realize that my feelings about to-do lists are mixed.  I love my to-do lists and I hate my to-do lists.

The two reasons I love my to-do lists are:

  1. To-do lists help me remember everything I have to do since my memory sucks.
  2. I love the feeling I get when I complete a task and I cross it off my to-do list.

The two reasons I hate my to-do lists are:

  1. I feel so overwhelmed when I see this long list of to-dos.
  2. Items not crossed off on the to-do list are a reminder that I didn’t finish what I set out to do and that I could have done more with my day.

While I have opposite feelings about my to-do lists I will continue to use them because, frankly my memory sucks and I can’t remember anything important.  But I have changed the way I make my to-do lists.  One of the changes I have made is that I make my lists for what I intend to do for the day rather than the week.  I also make the lists realistic knowing what else is going on for the day.  I can’t expect to conquer a long list of to-dos around the house when I have to take the kids to doctors’ appointments and piano practice.  Since making these changes I have noticed that my to-do list completion has increased and I feel better about how I used my time during the day.   I also feel better because the lists don’t start out as long as they used to and I am less likely to have unfinished items at the end of the day. 

So, moms out there with long to-do lists staring at you – change your to-do lists to realistic expectations of daily to-dos and start at the top and work your way down to the bottom.  Savor the satisfaction you get from accomplishing each task on your list.  When the list is completely crossed off throw it in the fire or deep into the garbage, sit down, take a deep breath, and tell yourself Good Job!!!

What are your feelings about to-do lists?  Can you change your to-do lists to help you feel better about them?  Are there any other changes you can make to your to-do lists?

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12 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Sarah Tomasello
    Jan 06, 2011 @ 10:29:56

    I am OBSESSED with to-do lists. I use my Blackberry notepad to keep everything organized and usually have a minimum of 5 lists going at once. I agree that if it’s not written down, it doesn’t get remembered. I have a few tips to add to your suggestions.

    1. Electronics are your friend. By using my blackberry, I am able to re-name my list from “To Do on Wednesday” to “To Do on Thursday” if I don’t complete something on a specified day. This helps me feel less stressed when something doesn’t get crossed off.

    2. Cross off the easy things first. By getting the little things done and out of the way, your list will shrink quickly.

    Good luck, moms! And thanks, Jessica, for the helpful hints!

    Sarah Tomasello


    • Jessica D Torres
      Jan 06, 2011 @ 10:45:16

      Hi Sarah, Thank you for your tips. I use my iPhone ALOT for my to do lists because I always have my phone with me where as I don’t always have paper and a pen which is probably how most people are as well. I have to write things down as they come to my mind or else they will be lost forever, or at least until tomorrow. Thanks again for the comment and I wish you success with your to-do lists. Jessica


  2. Sasha Dowd
    Jan 06, 2011 @ 15:48:21

    Jessica, you make an excellent point about long, unrealistic to-do lists. It seems like once you start writing a to-do list, you start to think about every little thing that needs to get done and it gets really overwhelming. I gave up on writing them at all because it just seemed like another stressful thing to do. Making small lists and goals to complete for one day at a time makes much more sense. What good is a to-do list if nothing ever gets crossed off? After reading this, I think I will start making a to-do list at the start of each day, one that I can actually complete!

    On a side note- I am not even a mom but have really enjoyed reading your blog. Very helpful content that any busy person could benefit from! Thanks!



    • Jessica D Torres
      Jan 06, 2011 @ 16:03:18

      Hi Sasha, Thank you for the comment. I’m glad you have found my blog helpful even though you are not a mom. I hope you have better luck with your to do lists this time! Jessica


  3. Minivan Mama
    Jan 06, 2011 @ 17:08:01

    To-do lists. I’m so unorganized, I have a hard time figuring out just what I have to do. I like the idea of shortening it to just goals for the day, instead of the week.


    • Jessica D Torres
      Jan 06, 2011 @ 20:47:06

      Hi, Thank you for your comment. I have found it much easier to only focus on my daily to-do list rather than looking at one for the whole week. I wish I could go without my to-do lists but then I would spend my whole time trying to remember what I had to-do instead of actually doing it.


  4. hlupkey
    Jan 06, 2011 @ 17:26:55

    I loved your article Jessica discussing the love/hate relationships with to-‘do lists! I too start my day off writing out a daily to-do-list knowing that I will be lucky if I can cross out two of the items! As I’m preparing my new role as a mother-to-be I am finding myself to become more forgetful and not as organized as I once was. So I need to write out a daily to-do list in my daily planner, iPhone and my daily check-off list in my head just to make sure that I covered every area. I agree the best feeling with the to-d0 list is being able to cross it off the item; however it’s always a bummer to see your to-do list continue to grow and grow and sometimes I lose focus on what my highest priorities should be. Look forward to hearing more about time management and how you are able to juggle the many roles you have daily!



    • Jessica D Torres
      Jan 06, 2011 @ 20:51:15

      Hi Heather, Thank you for your comment. When your pregnant it can be so hard to remember anything except the need to eat. When I was pregnant I would forget to pay daycare and to take out the garbage on pick up days but I never forgot to pack lunch. As you become a mom your to-do lists will continue to grow as the little one gets older. Just take it one day at a time and don’t stress.


  5. CourtneyPino
    Jan 06, 2011 @ 17:44:00

    I have to say I am definitely a big fan of to-do lists! I have a crazy schedule with school and work, so when I am in the middle of something and I randomly think of what I need to do, I have to write it down. Like you, “my memory sucks and I can’t remember anything important” so I must write it down. But I must say it is such a good feeling to cross something off my list. Good tips on how to organize them and I will try it next time!

    Courtney Pino


    • Jessica D Torres
      Jan 06, 2011 @ 20:55:07

      Hi Courtney, Thank you for your comment. I definitely know the feeling of crazy schedules and random to-do thoughts. I love my iPhone because everytime it occurs to me that I need to do something that can’t be done at that moment I put it in my phone. Without my phone I would have to carry a pad of paper and a pen with me every where I went.


  6. JamieLynnDodd
    Jan 07, 2011 @ 13:01:31

    Hey Jessica 🙂 When I was reading this post, I was nodding my head in agreement to everything lol. I wanted to share with you a link to a free program that I started on 1/1/11 with my mentor Chalene Johnson. She is offering a free 30 day challenge to help you with organization & achieving your goals. She is always talking about to-do lists and part of this is a new take on them, ways to make them more effective, etc. Basically, you sign up and you should receive 1 email per day for 30 days with a link to a video and sometimes a “homework assignment”. I am on Day 7 and have already found it to be hugely helpful & it hasn’t required much time. If you’re interested, the link is . Hope this helps, and maybe if you do it, you could review it on your blog. It doesn’t expire, people can start it at any time and they start with Day 1.
    Have a great day 🙂


  7. Jessica D Torres
    Jan 07, 2011 @ 13:23:43

    Hi Jamie, thanks for the comment and for the info on the program. I just signed up for the 30 day challenge. Can’t wait for the first email.


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