Have you ever looked at your to-do list (or run through the mental one in your head) and realised that unless you found a way to warp time there was no way to do it all?
There are three general kinds of to-do lists:
- the “some day” lists: things we’d like to do “some day”, that generally make us happy – the dream holiday, the ideal break, the book we’d like to write
- The “one of these days” lists: things we know we’ll probably get around to in the next while, there’ just no real hurry – the gardening, the admin, the once-in-a-while household jobs, getting in touch with someone, the book we’d like to read
- The “now” lists: the things that we feel like we need to do over the new few hours, that often make us feel anxious about getting it all done – deadlines to be met, appointments, meetings, school runs, cooking, cleaning, urgent admin
How do you prioritise?
I’m talking particularly about that last type – the “now” lists, the ones that require a miracle or a time machine, depending on your preferences. How do you prioritise what to do? How about starting with what can go?
I found myself in this sort of situation recently. It was the day before going to visit my in-laws to keep them company, help with a medical appointment and generally do what needed to be done around the place, and it was going to be an early start in the morning. It was 17:45, I had a two hour Zoom workshop starting at 18:00 and dinner was strategically planned to be ready just after 20:00, I still had some work to do, I was supposed to be preparing a lovely vegetable-laden pasta bake for everyone to have for lunch the next day and I wanted to get an early night.
Something had to give! So, rather than spending time chopping and cooking veg and boiling the pasta and packing it all up I concluded we could have fishfingers instead. Decision made, I was able to get on with everything else, including having a beneficial early night – which meant I was in a better mood for the visit the next day.
When I announced we would be having fishfingers for lunch it was like I had bestowed a gift upon my in-laws – their faces lit up and after some debate about the best way to enjoy fishfingers they settled on having theirs with waffles and beans, while I had mine in a sandwich with tartare sauce (the best way to have them!).
Seems like everyone was a winner in this scenario!
What could you drop?
Looking at your to-do list, what could you drop? What can easily be substituted with something simpler and less time-consuming? What can wait? What can someone else do instead?
When my in-laws started to need care, I knew how to look after both them and myself – because I’d got it so wrong in the past, when my other half was signed off work with stress and my life was turned upside down too. These blog posts are mostly based on the things that helped me, the lessons I learnt the hard way and what I realise with the benefit of hindsight would have helped. I’ve collected some of the other key learning points and tips and made these available to download at https://www.fionagillies.co.uk/tips-for-caregivers