What to Do When Your To-Do List Gets Side Tracked

Sidetracked to-do list

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Last week was crazy busy for me. Holiday weeks sometimes are, however I was not totally prepared for everything that happened. I did not expect my to-do list to get sidetracked.

It started when my son got his wisdom teeth out on Monday morning. I knew that the appointment was coming and would require some planning on my part to make sure he got there and then was taken care of when he got home.

Because I normally work at my church on Mondays, I had enlisted my mom to come over and stay with my son after we got back from his appointment. I had not anticipated, though, what caring for him would entail. So, when the oral surgeon talked with me about the details, I realized I should not leave the early care up to my mom.

Thankfully, I really wasn’t needed at work until noon so I was able to get him something to eat and have him take his medicine before I left. While I was set back in the time I got to work that day, I was still able to go and get a few things accomplished.

Monday evening I realized that I probably shouldn’t leave my son at home alone while I went to work on Tuesday morning. Not knowing how he would feel, I decided I needed to be at home with him to make sure he ate enough and took his medicine.

While having some extra time at home allowed me to get a few things done, it left me wondering how I was going to catch up on my work at church. I knew I’d have to stay later than I wanted to on Wednesday to get everything done. And staying late would put me behind on my Thanksgiving lunch preparations.

Another thing that got me behind is that I had no clear plan for the week. I had not taken the time to plan ahead.

This is what my planner looked like for last week.

Blank agenda

This tells the whole story, doesn’t it? When you don’t plan you can’t be prepared for unexpected events.

I am happy to say, though, with a little last minute planning and preparation, I was able to get our Thanksgiving lunch prepared without too much stress.

So, how did I do it?

I’m glad you asked! Here are four steps I took that you can use to help get your to-do list back on track:

Give yourself grace. Having unexpected events occur happens to the best of us no matter how much we try to plan for them. Realize that you most likely will not accomplish everything you want to get done. It’s ok. As long as you complete the most important tasks, it will be fine. Which leads me to…

Make a list of the most important things that need to happen. I got out a notepad and wrote down all the things I needed to do for our Thanksgiving lunch as well as some other tasks I knew needed to be accomplished by the end of the week. Once I wrote everything down, I began to see how much needed to be done. I also was able to determine what order to do things in and what I could do before Thanksgiving to help out in preparing for our lunch.

Do or delegate. After you have your list of most important tasks, get to work! However, if possible, enlist the help of others. I had my daughter set the table the night before Thanksgiving so it would be ready to go. My son helped me to get the dishes out. And, my husband took care of some tasks in the kitchen. Remember, you don’t have to do it alone!

Make a new plan. Once the important, must-do items are taken care of, then you can make a new plan for the coming week. I finally sat down last night and filled out my calendar for the week, created my weekly to-do list, and mentally noted all that is going to happen this week. I feel so much better knowing I have a new plan. Hopefully I’ve learned some lessons from this past week in how to be better prepared for unexpected events.

With the Christmas season on us I know we all face a busy month ahead. I hope to do a better job of planning and trying to anticipate anything that might come up. However, I will remember I can’t plan for everything and will rely on these four steps to help see me through if my to-do list becomes sidetracked again.

What do you do when your to-do list gets sidetracked?

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