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Linda Samuels, CPO-CD®

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In The Other Side of Organized, Linda Samuels, CPO-CD® will encourage you to get organized enough to reduce the stress of life’s details and make time to embrace your passions. Already, thousands of clients and readers have found help and inspiration in her advice, personal reflections on change and connection, and vision of what can be accomplished when you find that sweet spot between chaos and perfection.

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Moms' "To Do" Lists

What is it about us moms and our super-long, seemingly impossible “to do” lists? Is it because we’re moms – and we want to have it all and can’t say no - that our lists are long and overflowing? Does the endlessness of your “to do” lists cause you to procrastinate or freeze into inactivity? Or do you accept the ongoing challenge of crossing items off as quickly as you’re adding new ones on? However you approach your lists, I’m guessing that at some point you have experienced some stress and get overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of what you want and need to accomplish every day.

As a mom of two young ladies, soon to be 18 and 20 years old, I am acutely aware of how the entries on these lists have changed over time. When the girls were babies, the “to do” items were things like “buy diapers, make appointment with pediatrician, research Mommy & Me classes, and prep clothes for work.” As they became toddlers, the “to dos” included “buy pull-ups, arrange play date, research pre-schools, and prep clothes for work.” When they entered elementary school, the lists included “buy Princess underpants, prepare lunchboxes, fill out school forms, and prep clothes for work. “

Interestingly, as my girls grew, they followed by example and began making their own lists. Is there a gene for list making? Some of the items that I had always taken care of, they began doing instead.  As they learned to take responsibility for more things, I simultaneously learned how to delegate. I could comfortably ask them to, “Please add this to your list.”

It’s fascinating how my daughters developed their own list-making styles. Cassie, our youngest, is a fan of using lined post-it pads with bulleted items listed sequentially. Allison likes to make her lists in small journals using different pages for specific categories. Her titles vary from “Places I’d Like to Visit”,  “Books I Want to Read”, “Ideas That are Interesting” or “Things To Do Today.”

For me, I use a variety of list-making tricks. I use sticky notes for the quick, singular thought reminders. I keep a Master list of long-term “get to them one day” items. I use a daily reminder in my electronic calendar for items that need to be accomplished on a specific day. I use index cards with bulleted lists for weekly reminders. Then there’s the satisfying part of picking up my red marker to cross the items off as they are completed.

These days my “to do” lists have less kid related items on them. There are no more diapers to buy. No more lunchboxes to pack. Instead, those items are replaced with things like “write new mom blog, prepare for radio interview, and prep coaching sessions.”  Even though my girls are very independent, I still have a few items remaining of things to handle for them. They are: “review college forms, pick-up prom shoes and order mini cupcakes for graduation.”

Whether you are a working mom at the “buy diapers” stage or at the “buy extra-long sheets for dorm” stage, just know we’ll always have items popping on and off our lists. Those items tell a story of both our children’s growth and ours. So, the next time you feel overwhelmed with all the things you have on your list, stop and appreciate having them to do. Before you know it, your children will be grown and off making their own lists.

What types of lists do you make and what works well for you? Share your tips.

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Reader Comments (4)

Linda, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this - both the peek at your life before I knew you, and the way you show how children learn by example (or is being organized hereditary, as you hint?)

I am definitely a list maker, but these days most of my lists are in electronic format. I use an app called Todoist for my task list, and the Notes app for lists of activities I can do when I feel like getting out, things to buy for myself, and things to buy for my home. The weekly grocery list is still done on paper, but my husband and I share the responsibility, and he doesn't love tech as much as I do.

July 31, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJanet Barclay

@Janet- I'm so glad you enjoyed reading this post from nine years ago. Kids definitely learn by example, but there is also the nature piece. It's been quite the journey watching our daughters become adults and the organizational tools and strategies they carry with them.

Like you, I love my digital list making app. I've been using "2Do" for years and especially like how I can set a task to appear on a specific day, have repeating tasks, and create alternate lists like "Books to Read," or "Books Read." I still use sticky notes and paper lists for quick items, but my electronic list is my go-to guide that keeps me organized.

July 31, 2019 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

Though sometimes the "gratitude attitude" can be a little *woo* for me, I got a little faklempt at your ending thought about "So, the next time you feel overwhelmed with all the things you have on your list, stop and appreciate having them to do. Before you know it, your children will be grown and off making their own lists." I grew up watching my mother make lists -- countdowns of tasks for vacations, grocery lists, items to complete for planning parties -- and it definitely rubbed off on me for keeping my life organized, and getting it all out of my head and onto paper. Thanks for reminding us that lists keep us from being listless!

August 21, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJulie Bestry

@Julie- Thank you for sharing the emotions that came up for you when you read this post. I can see how it took you back and made you think about your mother. It sounds like she was a wonderful role model for you- and instilled the love and skills of keeping "life organized."

August 21, 2019 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

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