A Better To-Do List

I love making a good list. It’s so satisfying to mark off task after task, knowing I’ve completed what I set out to do in a day or a week.

Lists speak to my sense of order and organization. They give me the structure I crave in days filled with the chaos of child-rearing, homemaking, working, and just being an adult.

I will confess to you that I have even created a list of lists I wanted to make (things to do, books to read, recipes to try, etc.).

But lately my to-do list has become more of a problem than a solution.

Instead of satisfied, I feel anxious looking at the ever-growing record of chores. I also feel guilty about the time it would take to actually do the things on my list. Time that might be better spent with my family— or even on myself.

I’ve decided that my list habit needs an overhaul that will better suit my needs and my priorities.

I’ve realized that my to-do list actually needs a few more items on it. How will that help? If I care enough about something to write it down, it greatly increases the chances I’ll actually do it.

If I want to make sure I’ll play a game with my son, make my daughter giggle with a silly joke, or find some “me time,” I should put it on my list.

Yes, I will still have to fold the laundry, do the dishes, and meet all the other demands of daily life, but seeing all of those responsibilities side by side with opportunities for fun and play will keep me mindful of which are most important.

Adding even more to your already lengthy to-do list may seem counterproductive, but I believe it could help you prioritize your time and balance how you spend your precious hours.

A Better To-Do List -- what are you leaving off your list that could make all the difference?

Here’s a list (I told you I love lists!) of a few ideas to consider.

  • Plan Date Night (even if it’s a date night at home)
  • Watch a Movie or TV Show with Your Partner
  • Call a Friend
  • Write a Thank You Note
  • Take a Walk
  • Read a Book
  • Make a Yummy (Healthy) Treat
  • Play a Board Game with the Kids
  • Go Outside with Your Children
  • Dance in the Living Room

My new to-do list will be longer but will also be a better reflection of where I truly need to focus my attention. Plus, having this new kind of to-do list will be a visual reminder of my progress.

At the end of the day, if I still haven’t crossed off “make my daughter laugh,” perhaps there’s time to race back down the hall for one more bedtime snuggle.

My list can again become a tool rather than a source of frustration, one that will bring me the satisfaction of crossing off all that I set out to do.

What will you add to your list today? 

Kara White is the mom of two children, a son, 7, and a daughter, 3. Kara enjoys reading, baking, and trying to finish a cup of coffee while it’s still hot!



  1. Thank you for this! It is hard to believe we have to remind ourselves to make our kids laugh. I can’t believe how ‘busy’ everybody is – stay at home, kids, or not. But this is spot on! If we see it as important we will write it down and make time for it!

  2. Ha! I get you on the list becoming a problem rather than a solution! And it annoys me when in my list of lists, there are things which I should have done weeks ago which I haven’t done yet. Aaargh.. But yes, I think it’s a good idea to add not just the mundane day to day stuff but also ones that make life worth living, so to say.

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