May 192010

In my last post I entertained you with yet another one of my endless to-do-lists. Tini was kind enough to ask how far I had gotten that weekend. Well, I knew I’d not be able to do everything on that list, that was kind of the point of the whole thing. Faced with a tiny sliver of time I always make big plans to fill it. That list, last weekend’s list was big enough to make me think I’d maybe get through it by the end of this week. I would have been okay with that if it weren’t for the fact that life keeps on happening and now I have a new list that’s even bigger.

You know, there are people who do “100 things to do before I turn 40”-lists but really, I have a “100 things I absolutely have to do until next Tuesday”-list. It comes with an attached “list of things I wish to do with my life” that’s enough to keep me busy for the next two or three decades, and that has such nifty points as “write and record an album of original songs”, and “write a novel”, and “edit the first draft of a novel I have sitting in my file cabinet and get it ready to be read by other people”.

I have heard of people who are bored, I’m usually not one of them, unless you make me sit and listen to small talk for more than thirty minutes in a row. But even then I usual take out my knitting, and then I’m fine.

Back to the list:

  1. Sew a bag to hold my two new spindles: I solved this by buying two zippered pouches that are intended to keep bottles cool. They are neither beautiful nor particularly suited to the task but they are better than ziplocks and already assembled. I tested them on Sunday, and yes, they hold the spindles and fiber, the spindles didn’t break.
  2. Weave in ends, sew buttons on, and block every single piece of finished knitting that’s on the “knitting to be finished”-pile: I did sew the buttons on my new Tappan Zee cardigan. It took me all of five minutes. I didn’t want to show up at the spinning meeting with a cardigan lacking buttons.
  3. Darn socks, and other items of clothing: Very funny. I almost feel like my mother-in-law when she was getting rid of her old bedroom furniture in 1995 and there was a pair of jeans in need of mending in there that had fitted my husband some twenty years earlier. I have to say, though, that I cull the mending pile on a regular basis so that all clothes in there still fit someone in the house. Well, apart from the pair of corduroy pants that belong to me, and that are now two sizes too small. But I’m working on it.
  4. Clean the house including windows. Again, very funny. I did keep the kitchen in pristine condition throughout the weekend, though. I just didn’t cook.
  5. Sew a skirt. Nope.
  6. Finish knitting clues 4 to 7 of the Alhambra-Shawl. Knit eight rows of clue 4 on Monday morning. Haven’t touched the shawl ever since.
  7. Get enough sleep. Partial success, I did sleep enough one day, not nearly enough the next. I’m on a new, improved, and very strict “get ready for bed at 9.45 pm”-routine though. Already managed it once. (Pat on the back.)
  8. Go to spinning meeting on Sunday. And I did. And it was a lot of fun. And I spun, and spun, and talked, and spun.
  9. Bake a cake to take to spinning meeting. Did it. Just barely in time but it was a huge success, I didn’t take any of it home again even though there were only four of us.
  10. Exercise. Well, I took a long walk.
  11. Do something special with my son. We went to the toy store where he bought himself a new toy, and we went to the farmer’s market and got some greek food. We don’t eat that any more because my husband can’t have it. Since he was away it was the perfect treat for my son and me. After eating that he spent the rest of the weekend with my mother-in-law.
  12. Take pictures of all the finished knitted items. Again, very funny. The sun still has only been seen from afar in these parts.
  13. Write a story for the next writer’s group meeting. Still have to do this one, has to be finished by tomorrow. Fun.
  14. Finish doing taxes. And again, taxes are sitting here, mocking me.

All of this is not much of a problem. The problem are all the things that were on my to-do-list before, that have gotten on the list since then, and my brain going on overload because of all that.

One of my problems (and I told you about that, I know) is that every problem immediately creates a set of sub-problems and -tasks. Like my son got invited to a birthday party next week. There is:

  1. Talk to mother who invited him, tell her that he would love to go.
  2. Tell her that she can give my number to another boy’s mother so that only one of us has to make the half hour drive.
  3. Think that it might be nice to make a family outing of that. To go there by train, and spend the afternoon in a café while my son is at the party.
  4. Talk to my husband about that. He agrees.
  5. Think about the fact that we will have to bring birthday presents for the twins, think about when to get them, and what to get.
  6. While out doing errands today, go to toy store and buy presents (that was very efficient of me, most unusual).
  7. Make a note that presents will need to be wrapped but only after my son has seen them.
  8. Look up trains for getting to the party and back, and look up ticket options.
  9. Write a post-it note for my husband to put date into his calendar.
  10. Put date into my own calendar.
  11. Put date into family calendar.
  12. Hope that there is still suitable wrapping paper in attic.
  13. Make note to look for wrapping paper before going to the grocery store next time.
  14. Go and look for wrapping paper.
  15. Put wrapping paper on shopping list.
  16. Buy wrapping paper.
  17. Wrap presents.
  18. Get ticket.
  19. Get family to station on time.

And I’m sure I have forgotten something. Like telling my mother-in-law that we will be going there so that she doesn’t make plans for my son on that day.

One part that makes organizing this household such a big task is that every single thing has to be talked through with three other people. Often repeatedly. Everybody has to have every information. I should make hand-outs. Like the sheets of paper you get from the school. You know what, I think I just had a perfectly brilliant idea.

One part is that the flow of information heavily relies on a seven year old. He said to me that he needed some brown or green clothes to wear to a school event. Then he told me that he had already chosen the right clothes with the help of his grandmother. I didn’t ask her about it but just today when he was on his way to the event my husband found out that the particular pair of pants he had planned on wearing were not in his closet. That’s because they have been to small for more than a year. My husband didn’t know that. I’m the only one who has any idea what clothes my son owns, and I was busy teaching during this particular crisis.

And so it goes on and on. Tell somebody about an event, then remind that somebody about the event. The writing group I attend is organized through a yahoo group. We meet every second Thursday of the month, except when we don’t. Keeping track of dates seems to be really hard, so I’m using the group’s calendar to send out reminders for the meeting. Three days before, and one day before. But then there’s one member of the group who is not on the yahoo group so I try to remember to send her the dates through e-mail. And then there’s another one of us who sometimes doesn’t check her e-mail for ages, and so if I haven’t heard anything from her I text her.

I also talk about the meeting with my mother-in-law because I can only go if she’s free to take my son, and I talk about it to my husband, and I mark it on my calendar, and on the family calendar that’s hanging in the kitchen. I remind my husband about a week in advance, then again three days before the event, and on the same day. In between reminders he will forget all about it because he likes his head nice and uncluttered. Just like me.

And in all of this the thinking about the things I have to do takes more energy than the simple doing of the things would do, only you can’t do all the things at once, and so you have to think about them, and make lists and stuff.

I might be doing something wrong, though. What do you think? Are your lives and to-do-lists feeling as overwhelming as mine?

  3 Responses to “so much to do – so little time”

  1. mmmhhh, my husband keeps his calendar and I keep mine. I guess, there will be a family calendar, onces the wee onces are there. We sync our calendars like once a week and then it is upon each of us, to look into our calendars. So I have to think for myself and my husband has to think for himself. I’m not his babysitter and he is not mine. If I miss a date, it is my problem! ( Heiko is waaay more structured than I am, but he will not do my structuring for me. If I have problems, because I’m unstructured I need to cope with that. So putting notes on my calendar is something he will not do!
    We also have shopping lists, where we put, what is needed. And I stress we! it’s not just my duty, since DH does most of the shopping 😉 )

  2. Jein. Meine To-Do-List wäre sehr lang, würde ich sie denn schreiben. So nimmt manches einfach ungetan seinen Lauf. (Kann ich als Modell nicht empfehlen)
    Einen Ansatz scheinst Du ja umzusetzen – Kleinigkeiten sofort (Nachschauen, ob noch Geschenkpapier da ist und wenn nicht, es gleich mit auf den Einkaufszettel setzen). Manchmal hilft mir das. Weil auch Kleinigkeiten im Kopf so viel Platz einnehmen wie große Dinge, die zu erledigen sind.
    Und alles mit drei Erwachsenen abstimmen zu müssen, IST aufwendig. Das kannst Du wohl nicht wegorganisieren. (und im Großen und Ganzen scheint das ja auch gut zu klappen)
    Lieben Gruß,

    Ach ja, und um auf die Listen zurückzukommen: Toll ist immer, wenn ich mal wirklich fleißig bin, aber auf meiner langen Liste fast nichts abhaken kann, weil ich nicht alles draufgeschrieben habe.

  3. I’m hopeless, and for the next couple of weeks at least, I am in a mental space where I don’t care. However, I wanted to mention Tony, who somehow remembers everything he has to do for his very complicated job and everything that needs to be done at home, all the while thinking ahead and planning about it all without ever writing anything down or talking about it. He is much more efficient than I will ever be, and appears to be tireless. I sometimes wonder how he puts up with me.

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