As a homemaker, the to-do list can be daunting and feel never-ending. Here’s an idea I have to streamline it a little more.
Yesterday was one of those mornings when I woke up early feeling stressed. So many things to do! I had some writing assignments to work on, a stack of paperwork that would not go away, laundry that needed to be hung up in the bedroom, three errands to run downtown, and helping my husband pack for India –to name some of the things.
I’d like to say this was a rare busy day, but it’s more like normal life as a wife and homemaker. There are tasks that circle me like a ring of tire spokes, and which way do I turn first? Where to begin? You experience this every day. I know you do. So let me share the type of list I’ve started using that has helped me plan and work through my days better.
As homemakers, we need to manage different fronts, and it’s not good to be victorious on one front but losing the battle on others simply because we haven’t planned for them. So instead of making a generic to-do list, my list is structured in categories that encompass the different areas of my life. This is purposeful list making.
A Better To-Do List
Spending time with God belongs in this category. We are needy people, so every day needs to begin with some time in prayer and meditating on the word of God. (How in the world will we accomplish the rest of this list without God’s help?)
In this category, I put my workout plan for the day. If I’m going to mow the lawn, then I put that here. Or maybe taking a walk or doing some strength training or even taking a long nap.
On Saturdays, I write three things: Plan menu, make a grocery list, buy groceries. I like to make up a week’s worth of overnight oatmeal in jars, so I’ll put that on my food to-do list if it’s time to restock. Or maybe “make cookies” needs to be on the list (my husband would say it always should be on the list.)
Here I just write what I’m making for dinner. Sometimes I write “eating out” or “leftovers night.”
I try to be very realistic when I write household chores on this list. What do I really have time to do today? I want to be able to check it off! This can be “mop floor” or “wash whites” or “replace lightbulb in bathroom.” Keep it simple and do-able.
Anything that requires me to get in the car and leave the house goes under this category. Shopping, doctor appointments, lunch date, going to the bank, etc.
I’m the lawnmower at our house because I enjoy it, so this category is for mowing and weeding and all things outdoor house maintenance.
Is it time to vacuum the carpets? Shop for better car insurance?
Paperwork. Ugh. Best to just get some of it done every day.
Here is where I write “pay bills” or “send money to Caleb through PayPal.”
I actually do two different jobs, so I split this into a “writing” category and a “Spanish” category. (I teach high school Spanish.) Like in the housework category, I keep this list realistic –what do I really need to do for work today?
Anything that is an extra gift of service to people goes in this category. I say “extra” because of course housework and cooking and running errands are all gifts of service. Right now I’m helping my husband pack and prepare to go to India for two weeks, so that’s a huge extra service that usually isn’t on my plate. In the fall, I teach kids at church, so I put “lesson plan” under this list.
One of God’s greatest commands to us is that we love people. This category can include actions like “call Lisa” or “write a note of encouragement to Tim” or “check on Jayme.”
Our son just got engaged, so now I’ve titled this category “wedding planning” and am slowly chipping away at wedding tasks. Yesterday I wrote “buy plane tickets” and got it done. Woohoo!
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I use the Google Keep app on my phone to manage my lists. I’ve written about how I do this HERE. In the evening, I take a few minutes to pull out my phone and retire that day’s list. Then I pull up the next day’s list and think through what needs to be done.
My main advice is that you always think first of the categories instead of the chores needing to be done under each. Which categories need the most attention and energy for this new day? It could be that your house is screaming for attention, but as you think about it, you know that the relationship category is really what needs your first and best energy today. This mindset toward your to-do list will begin shaping your life with purpose, and you’ll stop feeling like you’re just a hamster on a wheel.
I pray God will help you grow in making a purposeful to-do list every day.
Much love from Montana,
Christy has been keeping house for over 30 years and has found ever-deepening value in this role, especially as a way to navigate the painful season in which we find our world. This book is a gentle invitation, to walk with Christy through vacation rentals and refresh your heart and mind on why housekeeping is so important.