Don’t Cry Over Unfinished To-Do Lists

If you’ve ever made a To-Do List and found that you just didn’t have enough time to complete it all, raise your hand. *Slowly raises hand, then questions why I physically did it* (It’s been one of those days!)

Working, being a parent, taking care of a house and being responsible for 98.9% of all the household shopping is a lot, to say the least. I have been a “stay at home mom” a “work at home mom” and a “working mom”.  In every “position” I have found/find myself overwhelmed with the crap that needs to be done.

Trying so hard to fit in every category: Mom, Partner and Individual

To-Do Lists causing more grief than good? STOP using them and try this instead. Organize your day with a Done-list. Increase productivity and helps with self image.Being a WAHM/SAHM I find that I get questioned a lot, by my pain in the ass (significant other). He likes to torment me by asking me what I did all do or by saying shit like “It can’t be that hard, you’re here all day.” Which results in a hard eye roll from me and an added notch of resentment, as I have given up on explaining it to him. If he had to live one week in my shoes he’d be bald with shaved eyebrows hiding in a kitchen cabinet!

Even when I was working out of the house full time, he would still ask why I wasn’t able to fold the laundry or get xyz done after I got home.  What followed was me day dreaming about putting laxative in his morning coffee. And possibly the finger a few times, while he wasn’t looking of course.

I was making To-Do List after To-Do List, striving to get everything done that I thought I should be able to do in a single day. I was having several issues with this. Some days I would only get 3 out of 10 tasks completed. Resulting in an icky feeling and it even had me questioning myself. Like, what was I really doing all day???

Underappreciated and feeling mopey..

So, as I sat around feeling like an underachiever and questioning my own abilities; I called my Mother… to um complain. I didn’t think it was fair that I had so many demands on me, etc. I won’t go into the whole phone call because no one wants to hear me whine, not even my Mother.  Though, she did listen to me “complain” for about 5 minutes before interrupting me and said “Why don’t you just try making a Done-List instead?”

My response: “What the fork are you talking about?”  Here she explained to me her idea. Instead of making these elaborate daily list of crap that I needed to do, I would write done what I had done instead. This would help me see what I was really accomplishing in a day. I’d have written proof to shove in my pain in the butt’s face, I mean show him lovingly what I do ALL day at home.

But, most importantly I’d get to see for ME what I am actually doing. For the first couple of days I wrote down everything after I did it. My list looked something like this:

Done-List 8/27

Made Breakfast
Cleaned Kitchen including (unloading/loading dishwasher, wiping counters and taking the trash out)
Started a Load of Laundry
Got M dressed
Took Dog for a walk
Worked for an Hour
Played Pretty Princess Tea Party
Built a Play-doh Dessert Bar
Put Laundry in Dryer and Started a Second Load
Made Lunch
Cleaned up lunch

Feeling amazing about who I am and what I’ve done…

You get the idea, and all of this was done before nap time. By the end of the day I had filled a standard piece of paper top to bottom and half of a second sheet of paper with everything I had done that day. After I put our daughter to bed I handed my husband the list with a feeling of pure happiness and said “Here. This is what I do ALL day.” and walked away and went to bed feeling amazing.

I didn’t realize how much it was really bothering me, or how much guilt and pressure I was putting on myself. There was still crap that I needed to do and that didn’t get done that day. But, by seeing all the stuff that I accomplished, I felt absolutely zero guilt for not completing it all.

Here’s the thing though, there’s ALWAYS going to be stuff that needs to be done. It just took me a really long time to learn and accept this. Being a parent completely changes your life and maybe when my children are older things will calm down. At least I hope they will!

Can’t remember everything, my brain would fry

I do still make lists of things that need to get done, but I no longer call them To-Do Lists or put a time frame on them. I have chosen to use the term Reminder List. Because, let’s face it, we’re getting old and remembering everything just isn’t going to happen. When I do something off my Reminder List I write it on my Done List for the day and move on.

My Done-Lists now are a lot shorter, as I don’t need the reassurance anymore and I often go days without doing them. But, whenever I am feeling unaccomplished I start one up as a reminder of how awesome I really am.

My advice STOP making To-Do Lists if you’re using them and they aren’t working for you. Don’t beat yourself up and don’t let other people make you feel like you aren’t doing enough. Feel proud of what you do get done during the day and cut yourself some slack.

Give it a try, make your own Done-List and let me know how it works for you!


  1. I used to make to-do lists, and then stopped as I never really got beyond the first two. So now I do whatever that needs to be done and if they don’t get done – then I just do something else 🙂
    Love the post

  2. I have two lists-the vital, important things go on a “To-Do” which is short. The “Will Do” list is everything I want to do, but because there’s no necessity, it never ends and just rolls to the next day. And thats exactly what it should do

  3. This is such a great idea! I’m a big fan of lists and I sometimes stack the deck in my favor by writing things on the list just to immediately cross them off and feel accomplished. It’s hard to get stuff done consistently with kiddos.

    1. It is very hard with kids. I have two needy/demanding girls. I am sure I’ll miss it when they’re older and want nothing to do with me. Living it right now is difficult at times, though.

  4. Honestly, one of my biggest problems are even MAKING the to do list. My memory is so shot lately that I can’t remember to remember lol.

  5. I live by lists but I’ve learned, too, not to sweat it. If it doesn’t get on, it simply goes on the list for the next day. Sometimes an item makes several lists and I’m totally ok with that! 🙂

  6. I love this! I write down what I need to get done as well, but I try not to put a time frame on them either. I always was not finishing my to do list and getting frustrated, but you are right! we need to be happy with what we DID get accomplished.

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