Could this be my life’s work?

Allison Tait author
Posted on August 2, 2010

I looked at my To Do list today and realised that it has become a To Do Book. A whole damn book. When I get to the end of the day, all the stuff that doesn’t have a line through it just gets transferred on to the next page, all bright-eyed and bushy tailed and ready for a brand new day.

This does not even include the stuff that I’m ‘getting around to’ (GAT). The GAT List is made up of the stuff that I never remember to do. Not even to write on the To Do list. Like cleaning out the pantry. Organising the carpet cleaning. Taking my receipts to Medicare. Finding my receipts for Medicare. Every once in a while, The Builder will ask me why the carpet cleaning brochure is still on the kitchen bench. “Oh, I’m getting around to that,” I say.

Buying recordable DVDs has been on the GAT list so long that it’s now a crucial task. Please wait while I add it to tomorrow’s page of the To Do book.

At my Big Night OutΒ on Saturday night, I had a conversation with a friend in which we both agreed that, much as I am living a Treechange life, I haven’t as yet embraced the lifestyle. If I had, would I need a To Do book? No, I’d be busy doing and they be things I wanted to do, not this neverending list of ‘musts’ that never seems to end.

My biggest concern is that this will be the sum total of my life’s work. Forget the Great Australian Novel and its GAN spawn (it’s all about the Great Australian Series now, surely?) Any writing time I have spare these days is dedicated to updating the To Do Book.
Worst of all, it will never be finished.


  1. Anonymous

    I love writing a to do list in the morning, and include something I may have thuoght of that morning, but have already achieved, but put it on the list, just so I can cross it off! I start the day and I’m already ahead. Good feeling -even though I’m only tricking myself πŸ™‚

  2. Megan.K.

    Loved this post – can relate. I can’t even find my to-do book… buried under the paperwork I should be “doing” something with!
    I agree with you about the idea we bring our old ways with us, even when we are having a tree-change or whatever lifestyle change. I’m trying to live a simpler lifestyle, but I even complicate that by blogging about it!! Doh.

    Laughing at the comments here too – I think you may be onto something with this book idea.

  3. Anj (@anjwrites)

    LOL – this is so me. Though I have found that I get a certain amount of comfort from my lists. Sometimes I cannot sleep if I’ve not written stuff down. And it IS rather amusing flipping back through old lists (To Do within 6 months) to see where I thought I’d (Living glorious life up on Sunshine Coast) – that was circa 2004. πŸ˜‰

  4. Kylie L

    I am a slave to my to-do list. I stay up until it’s done! #sadbuttrue
    At the risk of sounding like a complete anal nutcase (technical term) I schedule a day every three or four months to do all those GAT tasks- book the carpets, go to medicare, sort through photos, restock present cupboard… it’s boring and it’s banal, but it helps me relax and work without worrying about them the rest of the time.
    My other piece of advice is that it will all feel so much easier when you have both boys at school. For the first month anyway, and then you will get used to it and be back to square one. Comforting, huh?

  5. Jamie

    How about creating a ‘probably won’t ever get around to doing this year’ list, as a subsection of the ‘to do’ list? Reads like an act of defiance, but with practical postponement at its core.

  6. Tracy (ruddygood)

    Speaking as another Tree-changer (though, in my case, it was more a Return-to-Trees), the To-Do Book is still very much a part of my life. Single mother/uni student/blogger/writer/community volunteer…yeah, life is so much simpler now. Not. Heh. Thanks for reminding me I’m completely…well, not normal, but a word like that. πŸ˜‰

  7. Melissa

    I loved this post – I can so relate! My GAT list is positively enormous, not helped at all by the fact that we moved home just 3 weeks before my second son was born (well, that was well over a year ago now, but hey). I do get a sense of achievement once I’ve updated my ever-expanding ‘to do’ list. It’s a book also, but I keep ripping out the page before to hide the fact that I just keep writing the same things over and over and over again πŸ™‚

  8. Maxabella

    Oh, I love lists. I write loads and loads and loads of them. And loads and loads. Love them.

  9. Lucy

    Megan and Deer Baby…..you are certainly onto something.

    (And as such, watch this space (or my blog) for a posting regarding the archiving of Things To Do Books……..)

  10. Deer Baby

    I had to google treechange too. I like learning new terms.

    Could you publish your To Do List? Publish it every year for 10 years and see how much you got done. What a USP!!!

    I’ve been flying by the seat of my pants and not doing one recently. It’s just too depressing. That’s probably why I got clobbered by a massive library fine and forgot my friend’s birthday. Oh well.

    Love Lucy’s comment above! (or below – however this comes out).

  11. Megan

    In my house, if it’s not on a list, it’s just not done. I have a shocking memory, so I write everything down.

    I wonder if To Do Books will be the future of publishing? They say publishers are looking for a voice that readers can relate to…

  12. Lucy

    I could write a bloody book on this, I really could.

    Alison, I am a project manager by trade.

    I have a To Do Book.

    It is like a compressed gantt chart.

    I live my life through critical path analysis.

    I have tried to give it up.

    I cannot.

    Even when on holiday, even when lovely husband forces me to leave the spiral bound notebook at home, I still have lists & arrows on the backs of napkins.

    It is a state of mind.

    It shits me.

    The connundrum is worse than the doing of it all, because it is never finished and I never ever feel organised and I never feel ahead, and even if I am ahead, I never sit down and revel in it……arrrrggh.

  13. A-M

    You are not alone! As long as ‘feed the children’ is on the list….. and crossed off each day, then we’re doin’ ok! A-M xx

  14. Tricia Rose

    Thank you Allison, I have just discovered the concept of Treechange (I had to Google)! Hadn’t heard the term here in the Evil Empire.

    Don’t worry too much about the To-Do list: either it gets done or becomes irrelevant with time.

  15. Our Park Life

    i was working on my To Do list today…I am REALLY good at writing the list but not so good at doing the list (sometimes even not so good at finding the list)…ahhh, there is always tomorrow!

  16. Cinda

    The To Do list goes on and on…

    I’m terrible at keeping those list esp. when it comes to shopping. I’ll spend the morning writing the list and put it in my bag or pocket and when I reach the shops it’s gone. I seriously think the To Do list has a mind of it’s own.

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