Discipline,  Organization,  Perils of a Mom Writer

How To Face A Tantrum-Throwing To-Do List

My to-do list is long. It taunts me.

As soon as I cross something off, three more things jump on.

The battle I have with my to-do list is like chasing a naked, hungry, willful toddler through the house. I yell and reach. I grab and contain. I wipe, dust, clothe, scold and hug and yet there are more things to do. My list is ever demanding, ever whining, ever messy. 

I asked for this.

I asked for the expanding boundaries and the places of influence. I asked for blessings and abundance. (And it comes with more responsibility and more tasks?) I asked for more people in my life with whom I run the risk of disappointing. I asked for more opportunities with which I run the risk of missing. I asked for more challenges and I now stare at them,  convinced I won’t rise to meet them.

The one thing I must do today is look at these things, these tasks, and these events and call them what they are.

They are symbols of my blessing.

They are connections to people. They are the pathways to my bigger dreams. And I am in control of all of them. They submit to me, not I to them. I will not let their tyranny, their demands nor their temper tantrums control me. 

How should I face my to-do list?

I will tackle each task with grace. It’s rare that these tasks are life-threatening. If while I am doing them, I think for just a second about what the very worst that would happen if I failed, then I’m shocked at my own self-importance. I’m not that powerful to destroy the world because this one task didn’t get done. This realization helps me face the task with grace. And a smile on my face. 

I will be calm and discipline in doing them. Usually, I am always in a rush (the timer is ticking, after all!) But rarely the gains that I make in going quickly are worth it. I’m just as likely to make mistakes, spill the milk, or trip over my own feet because I can’t slow down. I also set a poor model for my children.

I will not fear failure. I don’t know why this has such a hold on me. I’ve failed plenty before and no failure was so terrible I couldn’t survive it. I think I’m more effective if I have a “so what” attitude toward failure. 

I will anticipate success. This is the antidote to fear. If I believe that I can do this, then I probably can.

I will inhale this truth — that few of these are life and death issues. I will exhale power and confidence. There is no deadline I have written down that owns me. My failure will never materialize if I handle these tasks in my best. And if the worst should happen, if I fail, if I disappoint, if I crumble, my identity is not wrapped up in this list. 

I am more than this. 

These tasks are what I do.

They are not what I am. 

I will do my best today. I will hold my head up high, grab this to-do list by its hand and say, “I’m the boss of you. Now let’s get busy.”

And watch it behave as it dutifully complies. 

Katharine Grubb is an author, poet, homeschooling mother, camping enthusiast, bread-baker, and believer in working in small increments of time. She leads 10 Minute Novelists, an international Facebook group of time-crunched writers. She lives with her family in Massachusetts.