My wife just wrote a blog post called "It's a Mom's Life" where she discussed the numerous (and growing) list of things she wants to tackle on a daily basis. She pretty much called me out in her blog looking for a response from the "Dad's Life" side of things. I'm not afraid of a challenge, so here we go....
First off.. As you can see from the photo above, my wife and I have different plans of attack for our daily task lists. I'm not going to get into all the specifics of what we each attempt to accomplish on any given day because we all know the Mom list is far more complicated and lengthy than the Dad's list. I am going to focus more on the difference in how we plan to complete the tasks in general.
My wife is a list maker. I applaud her for that because a list helps ensure nothing is forgotten in the daily grind. As she pointed out in her blog, she doesn't list everyday items like making meals, doing laundry and the like.
As you can see from my list above, I rarely have a detailed plan of attack. The one exception would be when I prepare for a trip or vacation. In those instances, I go into full list mode because I get very irritated when I go on a trip and forget something like my toothbrush or underwear. For the typical day though, I pretty much fly by the seat of my pants.
It's kind of interesting that I do this in my personal life because the opposite is true at work. In my job, I work off of tickets in our company's Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system. I have every task listed with details, dates, contacts, actions taken, actions needed to be done, etc. It's basically the technological version of a list on steroids. It ensures nothing gets forgotten and there's a record of everything I do.
My wife related her mental to-do list and her physical to-do list to having multiple tabs open on your internet browser. Just when you're getting started on one item, two more will pop up. That can spiral out of control very quickly and if you don't make your list, it could easily get forgotten.
The down side to this is that with all the new items popping up and needing to be added to a list, you can lose focus on the task at hand. I personally have mixed feelings about the idea of multi-tasking. Doing too many things at once will often slow down the completion of any specific task and risks making errors on each task because you're not focused on a specific topic. (Kind of like most of my blog posts.)
An advantage to list making is that it helps you prioritize. If you see what you have to do and how important each task is, you can make a game plan to complete your list. Or, you may find yourself crossing items off your list completely.
There's nothing wrong with applying a little bit of LEAN management to your personal to-do lists. Reducing your steps, eliminating waste or duplication of work and getting rid of tasks that don't provide any real value is a great start for your list.
For example, if I had "reorganize my sock drawer" on my list, it should get crossed off. What value would that add? Would it save me time in the morning when getting ready for work? Has it been creating any inefficiencies in my day as it is? That answer is no. It would be a waste of time to fulfill some OCD need to have my socks lined up in neat rows based on style and color. My time would be better spent taking a nap...or completing a different task on my list.
Here in the real world, I try to plan out as little of my personal time as possible. I don't want to feel like I'm working when I am at home. As I said above, I prefer to fly by the seat of my pants. I guess it would be more accurate to say I let my to-do list prioritize itself. I will complete tasks based on need or by special request.
I am your average guy who came with selective hearing pre-installed. Somewhere along the line, I got an upgrade to selective vision as well. The girls are calling out for Mom in the middle of the night - clearly they don't want me, so I choose not to hear it. There's a basket of unfolded clean laundry on the living room floor - clearly my wife wants it there, so why would I fold it? If it becomes a higher priority, my wife will ask me to fold that laundry that I've "stepped over five times in the last 20 minutes."
I'm really good at doing what I'm asked to do around the house, but I put very little effort at prioritizing items that don't have a direct affect on my own to-do list. That sounds pretty lazy and selfish now that I write it so I should probably make a few changes in that area. I don't have problems prioritizing things like fixing the lawn mower today so I can mow tomorrow because it's going to rain the next day. I might be able to use some of that same thought process with items around the house where I could actually be helpful to my wife rather than just another one of the kids.
We'll see how it goes. I've seen what out of control list making can do. One of my sisters (I won't say which one) is, or at least was, a list making fanatic. I've seen her turn cleaning her room into a three day affair. She'll make a list for organizing her closet, a list for cleaning up her desk, a list for organizing her collection of books and so on. To top it off, she would then make a list to organize her lists. If you need a separate list to keep track of your others lists, there's probably some inefficiencies in your process.
Maybe I've taken my aversion to list making too far?? Maybe it should be a little more like my wife does hers. A single simple list to keep me on track. Then again, maybe I'm just better at procrastination in my free time that I give myself credit for. I guess I should end the post here so I can go start a list. Or, maybe I can do it tomorrow. Until next time....