Thursday, November 3, 2016

Why you should use a Reverse To-Do List

Mom2MomEd Blog: Why you should use a reverse to do list
Before you read today's blog post, you should probably take a look at yesterday's post, How REAL moms get it all done, as the two topics are so closely related.

As moms, we are often expected to get EVERYTHING done EVERY DAY. On top of which, we are expected to look a certain way, behave in certain ways, and to basically be the caretakers of all things at all times, right?

Even in this day and age, 2016, women--moms in particular--are still expected to wear pretty much all the hats possible and to manage everything in the home and outside of the home too. We are still stuck with stereotypes like the stay at home mom who eats Bon-Bons (do they still make those?) while watching TV with her feet up all day or the stay at home mom who is so stressed out that she stays in a ratty robe with curlers in her hair and babies hang off of her or the working mom who still cooks and cleans and does all the chores, even if she is married and has a husband perfectly capable of pitching in. 

My status as a single mom doesn't exempt me from these expectations either.

And, the worst part of all? As women we often put pressure on each other to live out various stereotypes--we simply can't win!

It's so easy to feel like we are failing ourselves and our families. 
It's so easy to feel like we get nothing done.
It's so easy to feel like we have nothing to show for our significant efforts to "do it all."

Years ago, when I was still in a relationship with my son's father, I hit my breaking point with all of these negative stereotypes about being a woman, a mom, and a wife. 

I was tired of my son's father coming home and making comments about why dinner wasn't ready, why toys were strewn about the living room, why laundry was piled up on the bed, and on and on. I was tired of comments about how nice it must be to "sit around and watch TV and drink coffee all day" while he slaved away at his desk at work. 

I was tired of feeling like I was putting in 150% of my energy to take care of my son, our home, our relationship, and everything necessary to keep us all going only to have it discounted and undermined by my ex's negative statements. 

It was wearing away at me and I was starting to feel like maybe something was wrong with me. Maybe I wasn't really doing very much. Maybe I was failing to live up to a certain standard...

But, I knew that was all bogus! 

I was working my butt off to "do it all" and I knew I was doing A LOT every single day. And so, I set out to prove it to myself...

Thus was born the Reverse To-Do List.

I decided to start keeping track of all the things I WAS doing every day. The list was long every single day! I was doing a lot to keep us afloat, healthy, and moving forward! 

Fourteen years later, I still find my Reverse To-Do List to be a sanity saver, especially when I'm feeling overwhelmed, stagnant, and just plain stuck. 

How to implement a Reverse To-Do List:
Implementing a Reverse To-Do List is so simple! First, grab a piece of paper or open a notes app on your phone or computer. Next, as you go about your day, instead of adding things you need to do later, write down the things you have ALREADY DONE

Keep items you need to do LATER on a separate list so you don't confuse to the two or get side tracked. 

After you've begun to start tracking things you have ALREADY DONE, periodically stop throughout your day to look back at your list and give yourself a little pat on the back for how much you've actually gotten done!

What should go on your Reverse To-Do List?
You may be wondering what to put on your Reverse To-Do List, and ultimately, that's up to you. You may want to list every single little detail or you may want to focus only on larger chores and tasks. For me, it really depends on how I'm feeling about my day. On days when I feel particularly out of control with anxiety or worry, I find it helpful to list more detail and every single little task, no matter how big or small. If I'm not feeling overly negative about my day, I may only focus on writing down larger items.

What do you do with your list at the end of the day?
At the end of the day, I do a couple of things with my Reverse To-Do List: I compare it with my regular To-Do list to see if I can cross anything off, and I review it and take stock of how much I ROCK at getting stuff done! I like the sense of accomplishment of seeing all my hard work in writing. 

When I was still with my son's father, I also used my Reverse To-Do List to show him that I actually was working hard both in and out of our home. Now, I think you should do this type of list for YOURSELF only...if you are doing it to justify your hard work to someone else, you might want to question what else is going on in that relationship--in my particular situation, my ex was controlling, manipulative, and abusive. His comments and statements weren't friendly spousal banter or playful teasing--he took stereotypes and negative comments to a whole new level as part of something called gaslighting (a particular type of mental abuse). I hope that this is not the case for you...

I want you to start a Reverse To-Do List for YOURSELF and for YOUR OWN satisfaction. 

Today, many years past that old relationship, I use the Reverse To-Do List as a healthy self-check, a way to control anxiety, and a way to just get stuff done in general. 

I take great satisfaction in seeing my list grow and knowing that the things on the list are ALREADY DONE

I mean, think about it for a minute...

How do you feel every time you add another item to your regular to-do list? How does it feel to see the list of things you have NOT accomplished yet growing longer and longer?

Undo all of that and instead take satisfaction in knowing how much you already got done and how strong and powerful you are as a woman, a mom, and a spouse or girlfriend.

Ladies, YOU ROCK and YOU deserve to give yourselves a pat on the back for how much you ALREADY DO! It's time for you to recognize it yourselves!

So far, today my Reverse To-Do List includes:
  • brushed my teeth, showered, got dressed (be honest, often do you skip at least one of these in favor of something else?)
  • took dogs out twice
  • cleaned up dog poop
  • put a big box filled with other empty boxes in the garage (it has been in the middle of my living space for weeks!)
  • gathered papers and put them in recycling
  • made and ate a real breakfast
  • discussed some plans with my son
  • worked on Mom2MomEd's Facebook page
  • worked on Mom2MomEd's Twitter and Instagram accounts
  • took my uncle to his radiation oncology appointment
  • picked up my uncle's prescription
  • put away some laundry
  • gathered dirty laundry into ONE pile
  • meal planned for today (I'm not as on top of meal planning as about her meal planning HERE)
  • wrote this blog post
 ...and that's in only four hours! Notice I listed both big and small things. I feel like I've accomplished A TON!

What is on YOUR Reverse To-Do List today?

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