The Curse of the Never-Ending To-Do List

I can’t believe I finally have the time and energy to write a post on Monday! I was going back and forth on the idea of having a post up today, but I’m glad I pushed myself. As usual, this is born out of a random idea I had at dinner. I was mildly annoyed that I had around 30+ things on my to-do list and it was already 9 PM when this realisation struck me. It was powerful enough to get me back to blogging again, so I’m not complaining. In fact, as I finish this post, I’ll be ticking one thing off that mile-long list.


Being suddenly thrust into the adult world is a frightening experience, to say the least. I find that I have to keep my bills carefully, understand how taxation works, wake up at the crack of dawn and wonder how the clock can be maddeningly slow just before lunch time. There are so many little things that demand my attention and several large ones I can’t go without doing. It isn’t like the student life didn’t have those, but they were on a much smaller scale. I had managed to find an equilibrium then that has erupted into chaos now.

I’m the kind of person who lives in a world of her own inside her head. Being someone who relies a bit too much on her brain to remember things, all of my to-do lists are virtual and stored in my head. Of course I’m saving paper by doing this, but I also have to accept that some of the tasks just slip my mind. Back when I was a carefree young girl, that rarely got me into trouble. Now I find that the million things that I plan to do are so overwhelming that I carry forward at least half of them to the next day (and promptly forget half of those).

To further complicate matters, I stretch myself thin by trying to do much more than any sane person can handle in 24 hours. As regular readers might know, I have too many interests and want to somehow do them all every single day. It was almost a piece of cake when I had all the time in the world and attended a college that was pretty much next door when compared to my workplace.

The heart of the problem is that the way I scheduled my activities as a student no longer works for the kind of lifestyle I lead now. However, my mind clings to the rosy picture of ticking off every single item on my to-do list at the end of each day, whereas my body point blank refuses to comply. Therein lies my dilemma – should I eliminate some of the tasks so my mind is at peace or try to get them all done but set myself softer deadlines? For now, I’m sticking to the latter and trying to get my brain to cut me some slack. Until I can get rid of the guilt that builds up every time I think of another incomplete item, the curse of my perpetual to-do listΒ is going to plague me.

How do you keep track of the things you need to get done – good old paper and pen, on your laptop/phone or mostly in your head like me? Does your brain like to point out all of the things you didn’t manage to do throughout the day just before you fall asleep? Do you have any time management tips for me? Let me know in the comments section below.

8 thoughts on “The Curse of the Never-Ending To-Do List

  1. I use a combination. I make lists on paper the traditional way! But if there is something I need to remember, then I put a reminder on my phone immediately as I am the person who have memory the size of a pea! πŸ™„ for example, I have a recurring parking payment reminder at the end of every month. Because t doesn’t automatically get cut like other bill payments! πŸ™ˆ

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  2. Funny. I was just looking at my own to-do list. πŸ˜‰

    I’m like Spunky in that I need to write stuff down in order for me to remember. If I don’t, I’ll forget it within an hour. That doesn’t go for everything (I have no trouble remembering due dates for bills), but when I pack for weekend trips to Cape Cod to visit my parents, I literally have a list of what to bring. Otherwise, I’m bound to forget something important, like deoderant, toothpaste, or even clothes. XD I also keep notes regarding my WIP (either handwritten or in my phone) when I’m not actually working on it for the same reason.

    At the same time, though, it’s important to realize your daily time and energy limits. I’d love to cook dinner, read, work on my WIP, write a poem, and maybe do one or two other things every evening after work. Problem is, I’d be up until midnight – and not getting enough sleep – if I did. It took me a while to accept this, but once I did I was able to set limits on my after-work activities and take better care of myself. It’s not a perfectly maintained balance, but I’m still getting a little bit done each day, and I’m content with letting certain things go a little longer until I have the time to get to it.

    So if I have any advice for you in this area, it would be to maybe cut down on the number of items on your to-do list, or maybe list them in categories such as “Immediate / Important” and “As Time Allows.” The point is, don’t push yourself too much. It’s very easy to do that when you’re starting your first job and adjusting to the lifestyle change. But really, it’s OK to let a couple things slide a little longer. Give yourself that permission – and yes, tell your brain to cut you some slack. πŸ˜‰

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