Why My “To-Do” List Never Gets to “Done”.


Before I even arrived home from my vacation, I had prepared a list of things I needed to do.  I knew there would be a lot of mail and other things waiting for me and I wanted to have an organized approach. 

As I began to complete items on my list, I would cross them off.  However, each day new items seemed to come up and get added to the list.  So the first full day home I bought groceries for me and dad and I went to the library for books for myself.   The next day I went for my blood test and picked up some prescriptions.  The following day I took my car in for inspection at the mall.  While it was being worked on I shopped for gift cards for dad’s companions and got my purse strap fixed.

The following week I went to 3 medical appointments.  Unfortunately, I had to make follow-up appointments with two of the physicians I saw.  So – cross of three and add two items to the list.  And so it went – as items were crossed off, other things came up.  Then dad asked about getting a television and more items were added to the list.  Each day one item was crossed off the list.

After 4 weeks at home I now have completed many tasks – some of which were on the original “To-Do” list, and some were not.   However, here I am after 4 weeks and my “Revised To do List” is longer than my original list was. 

I now realize this is a never-ending cycle.  I will finish all the tasks I had set out when I arrived at home.  It may take me until mid-June to do so.  But by then, I will have new tasks added to my list.  I have to view this as just another part of my life.  As long as I can fit in some fun tasks in between all the duty tasks, I will be making progress.

I try to schedule one or two pure fun activities each week.  I meet at the clubhouse one afternoon each week for cards and games with my friends.  I go to the library and book club regularly.  I see my son and grandson every Sunday (at dad’s).  I attend family get-togethers at my daughter’s home and see my children and grandchildren and other family members.   If the weather improves, I will get back to my relaxing walks in the sun.  (I had counted on that happening sooner, but the weather has regressed back to winter!)

I feel good about all that I have accomplished in my first month home.  I know I will continue to be busy caring for dad, spending time with my children and grandchildren and doing those tasks for my own daily living – maintaining my health and my home.  Now it is time for me to drop the pressure to accomplish at least one thing on my list every day.  I will just go forward doing what needs to be done and stopping to smell the flowers along the way.

As I do, I wonder about the rest of you who are also caring for family members.  Do you find yourself constantly keeping lists and checking things off?  Do you feel like you can ignore the list for a day or more and just relax?  Maybe I’m just a list maker at heart.  I remember my children had the “Frog and Toad”book where one character makes a list of tasks for the day.  It starts with “1. Make a list”.  Then he crosses that item off the list and goes on to number 2.  Maybe that is just me!

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About letstalkaboutfamily

I am a retired and was the primary caregiver for both my parents before they passed. I have children and grandchildren. This blog is an attempt to connect with other caregivers and share ideas and experiences. I hope you will let me know what worked for you if you had an experience similar to mine. The main issues I am going to talk about are elder care, death and dying, assisted living, family relationships and hoarders and hoarding. Other topics will come up as I address the issues and my relationship with other family members.
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6 Responses to Why My “To-Do” List Never Gets to “Done”.

  1. terry1954 says:

    that is the way every day of my life is taking care of my brother

  2. Somehow it seems like the ONLY way to get through the day and the week without forgetting something important!

  3. frangipani says:

    I have a list (or two) and ‘to do by’ date. Today I accomplished one task on time, one task 2 months late, and will soon be doing one task 2 weeks late. And these are non-work related items. The tasks at work are another matter…

  4. I guess that is where it all started. I had those to do lists with deadlines and moving deadlines for big projects. The habit remained after I retired, but now all tasks are focused on elder care and my own household. It does help me stay on focus but sometimes I feel like it is too much focus on the lists I and now just enjoying each day as it comes. I guess I need a middle ground.

  5. Boy can I relate! I am a born list maker and I LOVE to accomplish tasks. I have a TBI (traumatic Brain Injury) and now lists are like my arms: I NEED them. I try to get the worst tasks done first. That helps an awful lot. I really like the Covey Method (steven Covey) for identifying what REALLY needs to be prioritized. THat has helped me a lot in my List Mania.

    When I was in the work world lists were mandatory. As a stay at home mom, they are STILL mandatory. I also find them to be very satisfying as a mom: sometimes the items crossed off are the only way to tell I am actually getting anything done! No more annual performance reviews, no more raises: only my LIST to show me I am on track.

    well, that and a fairly happy family and pets which are still alive. ho ho!

    Peace, Jen

    • I’m more of a compulsive list maker I think. I can’t remember when I didn’t have a list of tasks to be done. Even in school — high school or college — I carried those books of assignments and tasks to be done. And believe me, that was a LONG time ago! I also learned to make agendas for meetings which were essentially “To Do Lists” for the meeting, and I put time limits on each item to keep the meeting moving!

      And yes, the satisfying part is to cross off the task done. Today I did have the carpet cleaned. That got rid of 2 items — (1) pick up small furniture, etc. to prepare to clean the rug and (2) have the rug cleaned. I forgot about (3) put all those items back! I was told to wait 24 hours, so all my end tables and chairs are still balanced on the tables and sofa!

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