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Must do, should do, would like to do

Last weekend, I read about an interesting (to me, read for that lightbulb-moment) exhibition dedicated to women's To-Do lists. Since this week included International Women's Day and since some of my to-do list was about running an event in conjunction with it, it seemed a good week to blog about it.

My life is one long to-do list. Between work, the house, the kids and writing, that's what governs my time: what needs done now, quickest, is most critical. This week mine included:

Work things - reports, emails, pay claims, book-keeping, meetings, phone calls, that sort of thing.

House things - school runs, washing, school uniforms, tuning in new set top box for teen-party at weekend, organising two birthday parties. Oh, and tidying. Apparently. And the dog needs the vet at some point. And the fish need cleaned. And, allegedly, people need fed.

Writing - promote TV interview, complete new short story, write a blog, check a promotion is up and running on both sides of the Atlantic, run an event on Tuesday (which was a to-do list in its own right), research obscure mythology for short story, critique 2 pieces for writing group, set up promo for book launch, research for panels for Mancunicon, general promotion (and to see what that entails, try this blog

I'd love to say that I do work on a Monday, and writing on a Wednesday, and clean my house on a Tuesday. That would be easy.

It's not possible. These tasks go in and out of each other, emerging and disappearing at will. (I did sort-of-take-Wednesday off for birthday things).

Instead, I scramble to fit in work emails while chatting on the phone, to compile reports in the hour or two free, to check sales pages on my phone whilst waiting at the school gates.  My husband, on his days off, goes from task to task as we juggle to keep up with the basics (and I do mean the basics. I've been planning to have my bedroom painted for 6 months and haven't yet found the time...)

Here's the serious part. I am not the only person balancing this sort of workload. Google anxiety in women and work your way through the articles. Here's a quick taste of what I found:

'Women are more likely than men to report that their stress levels are on the rise.'

'from the time a girl reaches puberty until about the age of 50, she is twice as likely to have an anxiety disorder as a man.'

No-one can balance the sort of diary lists a modern woman does without stress.

I don't have the answers but I have put in place a few new guidelines for myself:

Saying no. I take on stuff. I say yes. For writing stuff, I do critiques I don't really have time for anymore, I do short stories at below market rates for exposure and coverage. It's time to put a value on my time and decide what can or can't be done.

I'm so far behind on books on my kindle to review I have no realistic hope of catching up - a review I promised two weeks ago hasn't been done because I had no time to finish the book and now have lost the thread of it and will need to go back to the beginning to review it.

Delegating more. My family aren't small and needy anymore. They're able to do more. When I'm running around slotting everything in, they're on phones and tablets and watching TV. Cooking, for instance. I am not the only person in this house who can cook. Cooking is now being done in batches and lifted out ready to heat out. 

Weekends - one day for tidying, the other for family. Sunday dinner will be simpler - in the oven while I'm out doing something fun. Prepared veg thrown in the microwave, that sort of thing. And it will be no less nice for it. 

I suppose my question is - have you looked at your to-do list recently? But, also - have you looked at your loved one's list? Because it wasn't until I looked at someone else's that I was able to see mine as it really is: too jammed, too busy, and in need of a serious fun-overhaul. Let the delegating begin.


Millymollymo said…
I live with lists. Work, kids, dreams I hear you! I've had to slim down the "Oh sure I'll do that for you" too because some how priorities got themselves all tangled. If it added to the stress and didn't balance on the finance it went. The fact that you've a blog posted at 2am kinda shows it all. ;)
Joanne Zebedee said…
Crazy life. 2 am wouldn't surprise me, but I suspect the blog clock is off - it tels me you posted your comment at 9-something am even though I didn't blog until 12! Although I don't think I'll unravel it, just in case!

Although, perhaps, you're a time traveller? If so, if you meet Davy Tennant can you share? Pleaseeee?
Anna Dickinson said…
No! He's mine.

The other things are the unexpected things. The ones not on any list. So for me, when we've had a big work paper to write (that was on a list), Child 1 came down with chicken pox, and yesterday, when he's still too spotty to go back to school, I still had a ms synopsis etc to get written and sent off, Child 2 needed a trip to A&E for a horribly swollen eye (they triaged us as 'urgent' and I nearly passed out -- thankfully it turned out not to be an allergic reaction, not an infection).

So no matter how carefully you plan and list, other things happen and they throw your careful lists into disarray.

What I'd give sometimes for a day in bed (it doesn't even have to be with David Tennant).
Joanne Zebedee said…
I had a day like that on Wednesday. Four calls from two schools, and two visits to said schools. I'm still catching up. :(

Hope the wee one is better soon.

(We need a portable Davy Tennant.)