The tyranny of the to-do list

The house needs vacuuming. Laundry needs folding. The two dogs need to be brushed. The garden – such as it is – needs weeding. The attic needs clearing out and organizing. As does the hall closet. There’s so much to be done around here, I don’t know where to begin.

I’m lucky to be married to a hard-working, helpful husband who does more than his share of the work around here. But the weather has been uncooperative of late, and our schedules have been so busy, that the chores and tasks keep piling up. When that happens, I tend to feel overwhelmed. And when I’m overwhelmed, I can’t think straight.

Sound familiar?

With or without multiple sclerosis, life’s to-do lists can be daunting. For many with MS, physical limitations add to the frustration: It’s hard enough to keep up with everything that needs doing when your body cooperates, and even harder when your body balks at doing the work.

I think it’s important not to give up. We need to keep active, do what we can, keep chipping away at the to-do list, remain optimistic that some day we will be all caught up.

But it’s also important to be realistic. I’m not going to vacuum, fold the laundry, groom the dogs, weed the garden, and clean the attic and the closets this weekend. It’s just not happening. So I need to prioritize and pick a handful of projects that ARE do-able over the next few days. The others? Well, they’ll just have to wait.

Most important of all is maintaining perspective. In the grand scheme of things, how much does weeding the garden this weekend matter? What will happen if I never get around to it? And is vacuuming the house more important than, say, hanging out with my kids or taking a nice bike ride? Is cleaning the attic more important than sitting down for a glass of wine with my husband?

I think not.

I’m not relinquishing my responsibilities around here. But I am acknowledging that if I don’t get around to everything on my to-do list this weekend, it won’t be the end of the world.

Because if there’s one thing I’ve learned from having MS, it’s that life is too short to be uptight about the small stuff.

How about you? Do you stress out about everything you think you need to get done? Has that changed since you were diagnosed with MS?
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Jennifer LaRue Huget, Blogger

Jennifer LaRue Huget was diagnosed with MS in 2001. A freelance writer and children's book author, she lives in Connecticut with her husband, two teenage kids, and two brown dogs. Her website is