What to do about the To - Do list


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    In less tired times I loved a good to-do list. I probably used them in equal parts for getting organised and procrastination. Now it has become a necessity to write pretty much everything down because of foggy brain issues and the length of time between realising a task needs doing and having the energy to do is getting longer. After compiling it from the scraps of messily written notes I leave for myself around the house I now also detest my to-do lists because it makes me feel exhausted just looking at it. I’m wondering if anyone has any tips or tricks to keep track of the things that need doing when you’re able to without feeling overwhelmed or defeated by the list. I’m trying not to do that thing where you put more and more pressure on yourself to use smaller and smaller packets of energy more efficiently. Especially during Awareness Week where there a ton of wonderful millions missing related things I want to put on the list.

    Side note: Apologies if you weren’t expecting community moderator to pop up next to my name. I was listed under the groups section for moderators but adding it here makes it a little clearer.



  • Ooh isn't this a huge issue for us! The biggest difficulty is that generally there is just more that needs to be done in the day, and the week, than we can manage. And making our life small enough to be manageable is generally difficult, or impossible.

    But what I have learnt for myself is to see that list writing as step one of the process. It is the brainstorming: just list list list everything that needs to be done.

    The next step is to triage, that is to work out which things have the greatest priority ie they HAVE to be done today (hopefully there isn't more than three of them 😉 ) or rated 1,2,3 of importance. Then cross out anything that can be deleted from the list (often a heartbreaking task).

    And then I have to look at them in the light of "Think what you can do and halve it. Think how long it will take and double it".
    That is my reality check on what I can do.

    I love it when my health is good enough to plan for the week/s ahead. And if I have the weeks tasks sorted in a way that will be manageable even if I have bad days, I feel SO good. Planning is so important when living with ME/CFS, but it is also hard.


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    @Dot thanks. Great advice re: brainstorming the list. I think my 'reality check' step needs the most work. If my brain is cooperating enough to write the list I'm usually at my most optimistic point about the days ahead rather than my most pragmatic 🤞



  • When I’m writing a to-do list all the tasks will have checkboxes. If I write the list for a Tuesday, things that get postponed get an arrow through the box, rather than a tick. In a strange way it still feels good to strike them off Tuesday’s list and decide if they’re still important enough to go onto Wednesday’s.



  • I don't know how many daily task lists I have purchased and ended up doodling all over them. Journals, diaries, calendars, they all look so great when you buy them, and I fancy myself to be a super organised person for having one. I start of all enthusiastic and then it wanes. I do write a list for shopping as I will always forget something and if I can't go, it assures the items needed will make it in the trolley. For other tasks that I may be striving to do or complete, I usually gather all that may be required to get the task done and put it out in view. I may not get to it immediately, but when I can, everything is bundled and ready to go for that task. Half of the problem with getting stuff done, is the effort in getting what's required out: Hence, my home has work stations with everything on standby. I use to put things away as it really annoyed me but now I have things readily accessible, in an orderly manner. There are great decorative boxes that can be filled with Task" items etc ... get creative and do away with the exhausting list.
    For example, if the cleaning products are always out, where you need them, then that's a reminder in itself. I have dry food products, nuts etc in huge glass jars, out on the bench, reminding me to eat the seeds and nuts etc regularly and also reminds me when I need to buy more. Life admin tasks, are best achieved whilst having an espresso and a cheeky cake. I'm done putting everything away. I'm useless and inconsistent with lists and this seems to be the only thing that works for me. My advice to anyone needing to keep track of things that need doing, is to go creative/ visual. It's fun coming up with prompting objects or items, placing them where you will always see them, and in time, the object will either annoy you to no-end until you do the task, or get you into a routine where lists are no longer needed. If none of this works, just get someone else to remind you! ... or delegate heehee🤓


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    Stronger coffee might also be a missing ingredient @crashdummy will add it to the shopping list 🙂 and like @Bee's idea of using an arrow as a prompt to reconsider.



  • O goodness @gretch , doesn't optimism get in the way of reality! Sigh.

    I love the check boxes and arrows @Bee and I also love adding things to my check list that are so small I will end up with a row of ticks within 10 minutes. So good for ego!

    Or maybe even things I have already done today!
    Eat Breakfast. Tick
    Let the cat out. Tick.
    Brush hair (oops better go and do it)..... Tick.

    Too tell the truth, it went like this
    Let the cat out. Tick.
    Put the kettle on. Tick.
    Make a cup of tea. Tick.
    Let the cat in. Tick.
    Let the cat out. Tick.
    Take a sip f tea. Tick.
    Let the cat in. Tick.
    Turn the computer on. Tick.
    Let the cat out. Tick.
    Drink half a cup of tea while checking social media. Tick.
    Let the cat in. Tick.
    Put cold tea in microwave. Tick.

    12 things done before I finished my first cup of tea! Woot!



  • @Dot hahaha that’s great - I definitely add things to my list after I’ve done them so I can give them a tick too!



  • @crashdummy So true about having everything out and in view! We have to make it easy for ourselves.
    I have a desk planner not only to plan things, but to record things (so I remember they were done and can check when they were done) but it has whole weeks with nothing written on it. Again. Hmm.
    One handy visual thing I have is a paper sheet on the kitchen wall with a list of all the daily things I need to do (stretch, vitamin D, drink water, kegel exercises etc) so when I wander past I might do one of them.



  • @crashdummy said in What to do about the To - Do list:

    I don't know how many daily task lists I have purchased and ended up doodling all over them. Journals, diaries, calendars, they all look so great when you buy them, and I fancy myself to be a super organised person for having one. I start of all enthusiastic and then it wanes. I do write a list for shopping as I will always forget something and if I can't go, it assures the items needed will make it in the trolley. For other tasks that I may be striving to do or complete, I usually gather all that may be required to get the task done and put it out in view. I may not get to it immediately, but when I can, everything is bundled and ready to go for that task. Half of the problem with getting stuff done, is the effort in getting what's required out: Hence, my home has work stations with everything on standby. I use to put things away as it really annoyed me but now I have things readily accessible, in an orderly manner. There are great decorative boxes that can be filled with Task" items etc ... get creative and do away with the exhausting list.
    For example, if the cleaning products are always out, where you need them, then that's a reminder in itself. I have dry food products, nuts etc in huge glass jars, out on the bench, reminding me to eat the seeds and nuts etc regularly and also reminds me when I need to buy more. Life admin tasks, are best achieved whilst having an espresso and a cheeky cake. I'm done putting everything away. I'm useless and inconsistent with lists and this seems to be the only thing that works for me. My advice to anyone needing to keep track of things that need doing, is to go creative/ visual. It's fun coming up with prompting objects or items, placing them where you will always see them, and in time, the object will either annoy you to no-end until you do the task, or get you into a routine where lists are no longer needed. If none of this works, just get someone else to remind you! ... or delegate heehee🤓



  • One thing that has helped me prioritise things (and I can’t remember where I read it) was about knowing which balls/tasks you’re juggling are glass and which are plastic.

    For example looking after your health is a glass ball; drop it and it will break, eg has negative consequences straight away.

    Tidying the house say, is a plastic ball; if you drop it, it will bounce and be ready to catch again tomorrow or another day (eg no dramatic consequences of delaying it).

    This helps me so much when selecting where to spend limited energy. I’ll try and find the reference for this and link it for you all.

    UPDATE: Analogy originally from Brian Dyson (previous CEO of Coca Cola making a speech at Georgia Tech in 1999) and recently reinvigorated by author Nora Roberts at a Q&A (and subsequently tweeted in 2020 by Jennifer Lynn Barnes.

    This was the article I read:

    [https://www.mamamia.com.au/nora-roberts-glass-ball/ ]



  • @melco Thanks Melco, I had never heard of that clever little analogy. Very useful.


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    Really like the analogy too @melco. I do get a little anxious that the plastic balls will build up to epic proportions but you are exactly right your health is the glass ball with the biggest consequences.




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  • @Dot hahahaha yes! The downside 😂



  • @Dot Love it! Soooo....funny ...



  • I've realised that if I just tick something on my list rather than cross out (which i used to) then I can tick one item multiple times. So for eg the washing up massive pile in the kitchen. I wash a couple of things from the pile and get a tick, and a lie down for an hour. Means I still get the satisfaction of saying yes i did a thing! but also breaking tasks down into multiple chunks. (sorry if someone else has said this, i'm not up to reading the whole thread)


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    @blanketfort that’s a good idea! Thanks. Going to try that right now for watering the plants. One pot plant, one tick, one little lie down. It can be a lot to read thru all the posts in a thread, so absolutely no pressure to read before adding your experiences.



  • Hi everyone; Yesterday I found a clever ' guided journal' .... titled bucket list ... unlike others I have used and ended up giving up, this one seems to be more in line with my need to be visual and creative in my attempts to get stuff done and give myself more ticks! It's perfect for ME as one of the pages is What I did for 30 minutes- How did it make me feel under the heading Today- for 30 mins I will remove multitasking from my vocabulary.... Love this ... Another titled page is find (or rediscover) your passion ... perfect ... it has brainstorming pages and pages for drawing and doodling ... and of course daily list pages. I'll give this one a go and see if it helps me overall, to get stuff done and explore more long term goals and aspirations. Just thought I'd share this .... I may have found my answer to the ''To do list" ...😀


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