Struggling To Keep Up A To Do List

Have you ever found yourself struggling to keep up a to do list ?

Struggling To Keep Up A To Do List

In my drive to become more organised, a better businessman and generally more efficient I decided to start using a to do list.

See Procrastination – A Blight On My Life

or Old Habits Die Hard

and Getting Organised

It didn’t last long. Less than a week in fact, as I ticked off all the nice and easy jobs on the list but then backed out of doing the “tough stuff”

So I feel as though I’m back to square one again.

Struggling to keep up a to do list has been a part of my life as far back as I can remember. As you can see its something that has been at the fore front of my mind recently but breaking the chains of old habits is a tough thing to do.

At school, I always used to leave doing my homework until the last minute, never doing the appropriate amount of reading necessary to tackle an assignment properly – this trait has followed me throughout my adult working life and now this bad habit of leaving everything I don’t really like doing to the last minute is coming back to bite me on the bum.

Late tax returns, late regulatory returns, research and reports all done in a last minute rush – this isn’t a good way to conduct my life but for some reason this is the way the way that I treat everything.

I ask myself am I lazy ? – but I don’t think I am – maybe you might think so.

The crazy thing is, that I know what I have to do – but if I think its going to be boring, hard, tough or I don’t fancy doing it – then it doesn’t get done. I can spend hours knowing that I should do a task immediately but delay, prevaricate, dither, even invent new more important things to do, than actually tackle the task at hand. Then it gets put off until tomorrow when I persuade myself that I will feel more like doing things. Then the whole process starts again.

Its a form of mental torture. I know it needs doing – I can’t bring myself to do it.

If I ask myself the question ” are there anything tasks that I do straight away” then to be honest I can’t think of anything that gets done immediately.

Am I dynamic in any aspect of my life ? – other than running an amazing fishing club I think the answer has to be no. Not at all good.

If I want to be successful, to transform my life then this behaviour pattern has to change.

I set off to work this morning with the intention of writing out a new “to do” list – and getting on with things, but like everything else that should be on the list, I’ve found more important things to do – this blog post for example!

So….. now…..what to do ?

I write a to do list, but then do the easy, unimportant stuff but leave the tough, unpalatable tasks until later. I’m sure there is a scientific name for these characteristics that I’m showing. I call it being an idiot.

I’m signing off now til Friday, time to man up and get some of these tasks that have been hanging over my head for ages done.

I’ve written out a huge list of the jobs that I need to do to bring things up to date (yet another list), this time I have ranked the jobs from 1 to 5.

All the 1s and 2s are nice easy simple enjoyable tasks, the 4s and 5s the stuff that I always leave until later.

For the rest of this week, I am going to complete two category 5 tasks each morning before I do anything else, then move on to the 1s and 2s after lunch. I work better in the mornings, so hopefully this will make things easier.

I hope this little system works for me. Something has to change. I hope its me.




  1. I see a lot of patterns in our behavior. I am bad at tackling certain types of tasks: namely, anything I don’t see a lot of value in but sometimes still needs to be done (mowing grass, pruning trees, folding laundry). Then, there are things I do see value in but procrastinate on because they are hard and take a long time to complete, so my typical short bursts of activity aren’t going to cut it.

    I’ve had success with using a “do it now” approach with the former of those two activity groups, but it doesn’t work on long-term goals. Back to the drawing board…

  2. It’s sometimes hard to focus and do things, and lots of people use the excuse of the lack of time. If I had the money I’d outsource some of the crap I don’t want to do!

  3. To-Do Lists are hard for me. What I have settled on is not necessarily trying to do one on a daily/regular basis; however, on days when I feel my stress level rising, I will take the time to write down 4,5, or 6 things I WILL get accomplished that day. This works well from and I have found that as I cross the items off my list, the stress level comes down.

  4. You are not alone in this predicament. In fact, I struggle about the very same thing but then I do my best to work on it and proud to say that so far, so good. Having said that though, I cannot help but acknowledge that there are some people who will only move yet do great once the pressure of time is already on their shoulder nagging them like crazy. I know because one of my family members is like that.

  5. I love my to do lists….when my girls were little they were known as TA DA! lists. Both of my daughters (in college now) are really good at using lists too. I think the secret is to make and use them in a way that works with what is important to you. I break larger, more difficult projects down into smaller tasks and include those on the list. I do the most difficult tasks first thing in the morning. I don’t have to finish, but I must spend at least 30 minutes working on it/them. I still have days when I finish few list items, but I don’t beat myself up over it.

    Good luck finding a system that works for you.

  6. I don’t use to do lists, I recently moved and luckily the home is in great shape. I have been taking care of some small repairs and some painting as needed.

  7. You’re so much like me! I had the same problem till about 3 years ago when someone turned me on to “Getting Things Done” book by David Allen. It outlines a great way of sticking with a list “system”. Of course, like any system like that, it requires a certain amount of discipline, but he builds such a great case for the benefits that it as really kept me sticking with it (in one form or another) for 3 years now and has literally changed my life, work, etc.

    Love the posts. You have a great personable writing style and it’s great that you aren’t afraid to write posts about your weaknesses. Keep it up!

    • I will take a look at the David Allen book – but maybe buying and then reading it will just add to my replacing actions with procrastinations

  8. I know what you mean, it can be tough at times to get the right things done first. What I’ve found is that when I tackle the really tough stuff first and early, it really brightens and energizes me for the rest of the day. Kind of like feeling good after eating healthy food and exercising. Comparing that to the alternative is motivating for me. It doesn’t always work, but I’m a lot better at it than I once was.

  9. Thanks for all your comments – I’m not finding it easy.
    I go to work with all the best intentions but they seem to slip away the moment i sit down at my desk
    I’m determined to stick at it though – I WILL get out of this negative behaviour pattern !

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