Categorized | FAQs, Rosh Hashanah

Question from JLO Readers-“I don’t like to-do lists!”

Posted on 24 August 2010

After I posted the following on facebook and

Wouldn’t it be fun to create a mass master to-do list right here on or on Facebook by gathering up each of your to-do’s? Post them on either location and then I will compile the HUGE list into one MASTER list for you?

I then received the following comments and questions:

JLO Reader 1: Here’s the thing… I’m great at adding stuff to to-do lists but LOOKING at to-do lists and DOING stuff… not so much

Rivka Slatkin: is it bc you both feel unmotivated to complete the tasks, or because you would be better with a list that wasn’t linear- say moving post it notes onto different pages, or even a tickler file?

JLO Reader 2: Hello Rivka S.- I think it is more of lack of motivation. I feel like that I need a deadline but if I set up the deadline…I push it forward. I need something like an event to make me do things like preparing for the holidays. Making food in July for Rosh Hashanah is too early and I procrastinate. Crossing off the tasks on the list can feel good!

JLO Reader 1: I think a lot of times I’m afraid to look at the list because it’s overwhelming and because I can’t decide what’s important so I just ignore it. Or I think I don’t have enough free time to work on the list because I just have 15 minutes so I’ll waste time on youtube, etc.

Rivka Slatkin: A couple of ideas come to mind here. It sounds to me that you both could use some “fun” and more instantaneous rewards for your organizing efforts. We also can talk a bit more about prioritizing and how to know what is an important task versus an urgent task.

Let’s start with the fun stuff first. Responding to Reader 1-We all need to enjoy rewards in order to feel “pumped” to keep doing what we’re doing, otherwise, organizing and homemaking can be boring and lead to burnout and feelings of under-appreciation. What about if the You Tube time turned into a reward after 15 minutes of organizing? 15 minutes of organizing is actually a nice amount of time for getting tasks accomplished and if those 15 minutes are really used well, they are certainly worthy of a reward!

Reader 2 also touched on the need for rewards, using the words “motivation”, “deadline” and “event”- we can actually create mini events to push us forward and those can be in the form of rewards as well. What if you set the clock for 20 minutes of serious cooking, cleaning, or decluttering and then you get to enjoy a reward or event? How would that feel?

Play motivational games for yourself like you would do for your own kids, say if you needed them to finish their homework- like beating the clock or setting a timer.

I do think that most people work better in increments of time- think about it this way- if you sit at a 9-5 desk job, how much of that time is really productive? There’s always people getting up to get coffee or hang out at the water cooler. I would venture to say that only 20 minutes out of 60 minutes are truly productive.

Give yourself permission to work no more than in 20 minute increments. It’s okay and guess what? You’ll probably be WAY more productive than forcing yourself to work in longer periods than that.

Also, cooking for Rosh Hashanah in July? I think that it is fair to say for many people, that is just too early! If you read my free ebook, Shabbos Perfectly Organized, you’ll see that there are two types of people, “Wingers” and “Planners”. It is perfectly okay to be more of a spontaneous “winger” as long as you find ways that will work for you so everything gets done by the time it needs to be completed. When the deadline truly IS closer (say a week before Rosh Hashanah), all a “winger” needs more focused 20 minute periods of time to work with plenty of rewards built in for him/her.

Back to Reader 1’s point about a list being too overwhelming or not knowing how to prioritize tasks-this very much makes sense. If you don’t know what is a priority, and all the tasks seem of equal importance, of course this will feel overwhelming! My goodness, there is so much that needs to get done!

Let’s learn the difference between what is Urgent and what is Important. Urgency seems like it would be more important doesn’t it? After all, something is urgent, and requires your attention no? Actually it is the opposite. Urgent tasks something is time-bound so they require your attention but are not necessarily important. Like a sink full of dirty dishes- they are urgent because they are demanding your attention and cannot hold any more, but there are probably many more important tasks that need to get done yet its the urgency of the dishes that just seem easier to tackle than some other tasks.

Once you clear away some of the urgent tasks- then it becomes time to learn to deal with important tasks. I like to put stars or the letters A, B, or C next to my tasks to show me what is really important.

How do you decide what is important? We could talk about this in much more depth, and in general I would say- whatever tasks help promote your sense of well-being and reflect your overall life goals. Whatever is “important” to you-like family, self-improvement, your marriage-just think about those things that you would never want taken away from you. Painful but true 🙂

Leave a Reply

Resources & Courses
Amazing Interiors Breakthrough!
Beautiful Shabbos Tables
Jewish Holidays