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On doing less (at least sometimes)

Categories: Balancing Act, Your life

8 comments

I had really ambitious plans for tonight:

Get home from work (around 6pm).

Do homework with kiddo.

Practice piano with kiddo.

Bedtime stuff and then read a chapter of Harry Potter with kiddo (we just started the first book).

Make dinner for tomorrow night.

Call mom.

Catch up on work stuff.

Get stuff organized for tomorrow.

Write this blog post.

Do yoga.

Read (currently making my way through the Steve Jobs biography, although very slowly).

Get to bed by 10pm.

Ha! I hope you’re laughing because seeing all my plans written out here makes me laugh with the realization that I was kidding myself thinking I can do all that and get to bed by 10pm (an epically early time for me, mind you.)

I’m terrible about making insanely unrealistic to-do lists. In fact, as I started writing this post I glanced at my to-do list sitting next to me and it’s not a list that I could have possibly accomplished in one day. Yet when I wrote it this morning that’s what I was aiming to do. And the downside is that now I feel like I failed when in fact, I wasn’t going to ever succeed in the first place.

I know we hear this advice all the time but I’m going to repeat it again and try to listen myself this time:

Sometimes you just have to do less.

Also known as: Give yourself a break. Realize you’re human. There are only 24 hours in a day. You can’t do it all. (Shall I keep going?)

So here goes my attempt to practice what I preach. A half hour of yoga would be really beneficial right now, especially because I skipped my regular yoga yesterday and my body is stiff and my mind is racing. But I am tired and I am deciding that resting (and attempting to get to bed at a reasonable hour) is more important so I am going to skip it. I’m also going to put this computer away as soon as I finish this post and not catch up on work. I might hate myself tomorrow morning but I also know that I would be horribly inefficient if I tried to be productive now and have a better shot at plowing through the 20 must-reply emails first thing in the am. And the whole getting organized thing? I’m going to ask my husband to check kiddo’s dance bag stuff (yes, going to ask for help, did you hear that novel idea?) and trust that we’ll figure out the rest in the morning.

In other words, I am going to choose to do less, to not attempt to get everything on my mental to-do list accomplished and to get some rest instead. A day at a spa would be perfect, but getting to bed when I need it because I’m exhausted is close second.

Do you write unrealistic to-do lists or are you pretty good at not trying to be a constant to-do overachiever?



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8 comments so far...

  • haha! this sounds like me and my crazy to do lists! and yes, it’s much better to go to sleep then taking 10 times as long to get something done when you are tired. There is also that whole getting sick thing. If i am doing too much and setting unrealistic goals, my body pretty much says NOPE! and gets me sick in a way that i have to stay home and rest. it’s torture and bliss at the same time.
    so now i am ALSO committed to doing less! painful to have to choose what gets put off or *gasp* delegated to my husband! but it’s for the best, right??

    kate  |  February 16th, 2012 at 3:26 pm

  • I’m about 50/50 now. Which is so much better than I’ve ever been before. I generally set way too much stuff to get done and like you I feel like I failed and didn’t get anything accomplished. When in reality I got a ton done I just didn’t end the day feeling it was enough. Not healthy, but again, working on it a lot this year :)

    Val  |  February 21st, 2012 at 1:04 am

  • I always write unrealistic lists for myself. I always want to do more than I can realistically achieve so I end up writing this big list out for the day and only getting half of it done. Unfortunately I can’t seem to let go of this and feel if I write less I am not giving myself enough to do.

    Marie  |  February 22nd, 2012 at 7:45 am

  • I’ll admit, I am totally an overachiever (don’t even ask my how often I get pegged as being a “typical type A”) especially at home. Because I work, I feel like I have to work on over drive to do things so the kids know I’m there for them too. But, like work, I know it’s bad to commit to things I know I just can’t get done. I try to limit my home “to do” (not an actual list because I hate them!) to things I know I can actually get done when I say I will. I hate for anyone to be disappointed.

    Alyssa  |  February 22nd, 2012 at 12:00 pm

  • For me the, “asking for help” is the hardest. I want to do it all and most of the time I do. But then i feel resentful that I didn’t get any help when I simply could have asked for it in the first place! This doesn’t happen too often because I do have a pretty great husband that is extremely hands-on with the baby and with all of the prep, chores, errands, dinner, etc. that goes along with it. We have a great routine and a real 50/50 attitude when it comes to everything. After all, we both work full-time and as far as I’m concerned that means we are on a even playing field and should both put the same efforts in. Know what I mean?

    I think you nailed it on the head when you mentioned not catching up on work and instead getting the rest your mind and body needed. As working moms we are so good at accustoming everyone around us that we often neglect the most important person… ourselves! I hope you got the rest you needed and you are refreshed to tackle yet another day. :)

    Kendra  |  February 24th, 2012 at 12:41 pm

  • I just stumbled across this blog and couldn’t agree more. I’ve been forcing myself to NOT do things that need to get done sometimes just so I can relax a bit but instead of relaxing, I wind up getting antsy because I don’t feel like I’m accomplishing something and that turns to guilt. And like Kendra, I have a great husband who is 100% engaged and does so much but when I get in the weeds I don’t ask for help. It’s like some freaky martyr syndrome! Why do we set ourselves up for that?

    Becky  |  February 28th, 2012 at 6:30 pm

  • I completely agree! I am a single mom, school teacher, tutor and nursery worker. My to-do list just keeps getting longer and I often feel that failure thing, because there is only one of me and I need about 40 hours in a day to complete everything I have to do. I am happy to know that I am not alone, but would love some more ideas on how to balance mom and life.

    Sarah  |  April 2nd, 2012 at 7:09 am

  • I knew I wasn’t alone with unrealistic to-do lists! Great post.

    AverageWorkingMom  |  April 17th, 2012 at 8:42 am

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