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Full Time, All the Time

with Britt Reints

Forget the 9 to 5; the demands of a working mom aren’t limited by a time clock. Full Time, All the Time is a blog about balancing the many roles of a modern woman - and maintaining your wellbeing while doing it. I am a writer, mother, wife, sister, daughter, friend and sometimes volunteer living in Pittsburgh. Oh, and I think you look pretty today.

You can also find Britt on Twitter and at

I may have found a cure for the “I’ll get around to it” pile

Categories: Uncategorized, balance


I was going to call this article “The cure for procrastination”, but I’m not exactly sure that it’s procrastination I’m addressing.

I’m not talking about things I’m avoiding doing, per say.  I’m talking about the things I’m just forgetting to do.  You know the ones.

The email that needs a response at some point but not right now and so you leave it marked as read in your inbox to answer when you’re finished with all the crucial projects of the day.  The one that you find, marked read in your inbox, three months later.

The box of clothes sitting by your bedroom door that you’re going to go through and take to the dry cleaner or the tailor or the local thrift shop after work someday, or maybe this weekend.  The one that you’ve been tripping over every morning for so long that your husband thinks it’s part of your decorating style.

The mail you’re going to sort, the desk you’re going to clean, the friend you’re going to call back, the dress you’re going to return and the eye doctor appointment you’re going to make.

These aren’t things that I’m putting off because they don’t sound like fun or because they seem particularly daunting, which are the most common reasons that I procrastinate.  Their just low priority tasks that I set aside for later and then blow off.  The problem is, they aren’t no priority tasks and I often find myself regretting not taking a few moments to get them done.  I want to get them done - just, you know, later.

And later never comes.

My new goal is to assign deadlines for these low priority tasks as soon as possible, immediately if I can.

It goes like this:

Step 1: I get an email from a friend that needs a response, but not an immediate one.  It will require a little more time than I have to give right now.

Step 2: I respond immediately with either a)I’ll have this to you by (insert date here) or b) when do you need this?

Step 3: I add “respond to Friend about Thing on Deadline” to my dated task list.

Step 4: When I find myself with a few spare minutes, I check my task list and go “Oh!  That’s right!”
I actually respond to Friend about Thing, and then check it off my list.

So far, this has worked out well all three times I’ve done it.  I’m optimistic!

Now if you’ll excuse me, it appears I need to “return phone call to Friend”.

Photo by Keith Williamson

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5 comments so far...

  • Which reminds me, I need to make myself an eye doctor appointment. :)

    Finn  |  June 30th, 2010 at 8:22 am

  • I use my Inbox as my to-do list, so as long as it’s in my inbox, high priority or low priority, it needs to be done.

    My old boss used to send me random tasks to do constantly, and my way of clearing those tasks was to reply to him with a “when do you need this by?” and then it was in his court. He never answered a single one of those emails!

    Avitable  |  June 30th, 2010 at 8:31 am

  • One of the things I have learned from Flylady is that one day a week (in my case Wednesdays) is “Anti-Procastination Day”. I keep things in the front of my folder such as things I have to respond to, notes to make an appt for an oil change, etc. And then on Wedneadays I sit down and go thru that 15 mins at a time.

    Nanna  |  June 30th, 2010 at 9:53 am

  • I also use my inbox as my to-do list. This is my incentive to keep inbox clutter to a minimum.

    I have times on most days when I’m not motivated to move on to the next task yet. So I use those times to clear the little piles of to-dos before they get overwhelming. Other times to tackle them (little by little) are when my computer is rebooting, when I’m waiting for a slow download/file conversion, or during a conference call where I’m on listen-only mode. In short, I have little time to waste during the day, so I waste little time (excluding certain internet time!). For things that take significant chunks of time, I generally have to wait until late at night (as in, past midnight) and just suck it up and do it, even though I’d rather be sleeping. I have been gradually cutting down on these types of responsibilities (mostly nonprofit stuff).

    Another important skill is to think quick, be confident, and answer right away more often. How many of those “I’ll do it later” tasks are really being put off because it’s stressful to have to make a decision? In my experience, those are the ones that end up staying on the “to-do” list so long that they cause problems. So I’m getting more proactive about those.

    SKL  |  June 30th, 2010 at 9:55 am

  • My task lists are either in Outlook with a deadline and a scheduled reminder, or on my daily notepad with:
    - Priority A: Urgent-Important
    - Priority B: Urgent
    - Priority C: Important
    - Priority D: Required but not needed…

    Check off when done, put an arrow with a date for postponing. Works for me… when I take a few seconds to prioritize!

    FrenchNad  |  July 6th, 2010 at 7:47 pm