My Big Spring Project: The To-Do List





Every year I have a Big Spring Project. Big. Usually really, really big. Things like getting chickens and building a chicken coopturning my front yard into a vegetable garden or building a cob oven.

This year for the first time in years I haven’t planned a Big Spring Project. Not yet anyway. What I do have is a long list of stuff that has to be done because I haven’t had time to do them for the past several years because of … my big spring projects.

My goal is to get all this stuff done before the first long weekend, which for Canada is on May 16th, 17th and 18th.  Which is in less than a month.  So let’s factor in the 12 hours a day I work, usually 6 days a week.  Then add in the fact that I have to sleep and eat (usually things that don’t require chewing because that takes too much time), perform general hygiene and take care of things around the house that will die if I don’t feed them (chickens, cats, plants, dreams).

By my estimation that leaves me a total of exactly 2.74 hours to complete everything on my to-do list by May 16th.







In the past week I’ve finished 2 of the jobs.  I painted my fence and pulled up the slate that’s in the coop run.  I had slate in that area for years before the coop went there and I left it whent I built the coop because it made cleaning out the run really easy. The problem is the slate didn’t allow for much drainage when it rained, so when the straw on top of it got wet it stayed wet.  Forever.  Since taking the slate up, the straw dries  in a day or so.

So considering my time constraints I’ll have around 20 minutes to complete each project.  Uh huh.

Oh well.  A girl’s gotta have goals.

That’s the thing about a list.  If you write it down and mark it off, things doesn’t seem nearly as scary.  I love a good list.  I have so many things going on in my brain that a list makes things seem much more doable than them just floating around in my head.

So that’s your homework for today.  Make a to-do list for this summer and a target date for when you want it all done.

You’re 90% more likely to get those jobs done if you do that.  I made that percentage up but I think it’s probably very accurate.  In fact I’m 90% sure it’s accurate.

I’d even like photographic evidence which I’ll be asking for in Friday’s  post. You’ll get the chance to post a photo of your to-do list.  See?  That way you’re going to be accountable because you’re showing the whole world your to-do list.  Which makes you 10% more likely to complete that list.  If you add that to the 90% chance you have just by making a list, you’re up to having a 100% chance of completing the things you need to do by your target date.

Interested in getting more incentive, motivation, tips and assignments like this?  Join the other readers who’ve signed up for my The Art of Doing MORE Stuff course.

Get making that list!

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  1. Edith says:

    Hi Karen,

    I’m the queen of lists. I keep a small notebook with four To Do sections: Inside, Outside, Errands, Research. I’ve done this for years and it keeps me efficient and on track. I tried the electronic versions but always go back to the notebook…guess ’cause it feels so good to mark the items off.

    • Karen says:

      It does! ~ karen!

    • Rondina says:

      I think it has something to do with the tactile action of using your fingers. I don’t have “feelings” about typing. I do about writing. Think about how important someone’s signature is. Down here, it is common for signatures to be inscribed on the back of tombstones. Writing is an extension of ourselves—even the part when we check or cross off something on a list.

  2. Suzanne says:

    Yeahhhhh, the problem with my lists( and i have a couple going) is that I keep doing things that are not on the lists . But it doesnt matter, I just write them down and presto, I cross them.

    • Karen says:

      Ha. That’s probably because you’re doing the jobs you want to do and not the jobs you don’t want to do. That’s why those jobs usually don’t get done. It’s pretty much what everyone does, lol. ~ karen!

    • Maggie says:

      I too am the queen of lists. For me it’s a necessity. I have a horrible memory. I also do things not on my list. I rectify my “forgetting” to write these tasks down on my list by adding them to my to-do list then I cross them off. Voila, I’ve completed one of my tasks!

  3. Cynthia Jones says:

    Did your ring arrive yet? I love the jooools.

  4. Sherry in Alaska says:

    I hate to be the bearer of bad news but I think you need more sleep. Which is going to cut into your 2.75 hours to work on the list. What makes me say this? Your proof reading skills seem to be impaired. I think you need a day off! For God’s sake Karen, it’s not meant to be a race! Ease up on yourself so we can continue to enjoy your wonderful posts and not have to wait for you to recover from your impending crash!!! Please…

    With only the best intentions you know what gets paved…..

    • Agreed, though I was thinking maybe a bit of drinking going on while writing this post and, of course, taking a break from the list.

      • Sherry in Alaska says:

        So, Linda,
        Are you the fun police? I’m just concerned about Karen over working. Shish… a little drink never hurts anything if you’re a blogger and not a brain surgeon.

        • Hahaha, not at all, a little drinking might not hurt anything but your ability to proof read and/or type. Give me a break, I mentioned taking a break too:-)

        • Karen says:

          LOL. I”ll have to go look at the post again. And you’re right. This is a PARTICULARLY busy week for me and I probably just forgot to do my proof read before sending the post out. What happens is is I write the post, then I might go back and change something and then touch it up. Then before it sends out I proof read it to correct any inconsistencies in grammar, typos etc. Here we go. Gonna read it. This oughtta be fun. ~ karen!

        • Kellie says:

          I wrote a post and forgot to hit send. Ha,ha.
          As far as grammar and spelling go, I think we all know what you are trying to say.
          Just blame it on autocorrect. He,he.
          Here’s to being busy, If we weren’t we’d be dead.

    • Rondina says:

      Actually, I think Karen is one of her most relaxed moods right now. Probably because there is no Big Spring Project.

      • Karen says:

        Ha! I’m not completely relaxed at the moment, lol. This is/has been my busiest week in a long time and i’m a scatterbrain. Honestly I have lists everywhere! What do accomplish this week, today, this afternoon, this hour, this minute! If I didn’t have this list of stuff I needed to do by what day I’d be an even bigger mess. ~ karen

  5. Mel says:

    I love lists… I have so many, both on paper and electronically. I prefer paper though. The feeling of checking something off is the most magical feeling of accomplishment.

  6. Mel says:

    And my to do list for this summer is painfully short but it is a big project…
    1. Survive.
    I have a 7 week old and another turning 2 the end of June so this is all I’m focusing on… I’ll be productive again somsometime in the next 18 years I suppose.

  7. Mel says:

    And my to do list for this summer is painfully short but it is a big project…
    1. Survive.
    I have a 7 week old and another turning 2 the end of June so this is all I’m focusing on… I’ll be productive again sometime in the next 18 years I suppose.

  8. Danni says:

    I have a list already, and fixing up my cob oven is on it also. Poor bitch took a nasty beating here over the winter.
    I have a daunting list, but committed to a clambake in September for extended family, so that is my kick in the ass to get things done!

  9. Cheryl says:

    I currently have a spreadsheet on my fridge that lists every room in my house and all the projects that need to be done in each (mostly painting as we had our house “retro-insulated” and there are lovely white blotches of drywall compound everywhere). Checking off the “Done” box beside each item is incredibly satisfying!

  10. Ann says:

    My husband is leaving tomorrow to go to Florida to start a summer’s worth of radiation therapy and I will be alone. Blissfully alone. Boringly alone. Boohooingly alone. I have always liked having a few days here and there to be by myself and I get so much done. Projects just go faster for me alone. But this is an entirely different animal and for this time projects will be of the upmost importance. I have a partial mental list going and I do need to start writing it down, fine tuning it and making final decisions on what I want to tackle and in what order. So I will get started writing it down and getting ready to post it. I know it will help me stay focused. I do better with lists but honestly, rarely make them. But this summer seems to be the one where making it and sticking to it will help it all go much more smoothly

    • Karen says:

      That’s right! Good luck to your husband. He leaves already does he? Wow. You’re right though. It’s always easier for me anyway to get things done when no one is around. ~ karen!

  11. Susan says:

    My dog ate my list. Seriously. He tore apart my day planner up to the second week in May, which is when I will have to start doing things again. And keep appointments.

  12. Jack Ledger says:

    One thing I do know is that all those “slip-ups” in your post content were not by accident. Either that or you have taken up peyote. Do we get a prize for spotting them? .I counted twelve, not including the unplaced commas.

  13. Karen says:

    Karen-What ‘cha doing with the slate? I’ve got a stack of slate sitting at the end of my driveway just begging for a real job. Any ideas?

  14. Jody says:

    I always have various lists on the go. So by Friday all I have to do is add TBCB (to be completed by) date.

  15. Beckie says:

    I’ve been doing a Bullet Journal for about 2 years. I had been a compulsive list-maker with a list of my lists. (seriously) The Bullet Journal system really helped simplify my compulsive list making tendencies.

    My current List of Things to Do is unremarkable. Housecleaning, garden chores, etc. They will all be complete before *our* first long weekend, which is May 23, 24 & 25.

  16. marilyn says:

    i want that necklace

  17. Ev Wilcox says:

    My lists happen mostly when I am hosting a family event, and yes, the crossing off of each item is a wonderful feeling! The other lists, the ones I SHOULD be writing (boring, chorey ones), most often don’t get written. When my spouse of eleventy million years is out of town (yay!) I do get more done, sometimes with lists!
    Your list looks fine to me, Karen. Happy crossing off!

  18. Su says:

    around here me and the guy joke about stuff that each of us has on ‘the list’…. Question – ‘did you get this or that done yet?’ Answer – ‘it’s on the list!’ Maybe I’m not that organized or refuse to feel the pressure…. what needs to get done, gets done……

    BTW – keep feeding those dreams…. now THAT’S important

  19. Karin says:

    I, too, am a dedicated list maker. I have a book club meeting mid-May and a surprise birthday party for the guy over the holiday weekend (May 25) AND we’re in the middle-towards-the-end-if-it-ever-ends building of a new shop for the guy out in the back-back yard, so my list is even longer than usual. What’s worse is that the last two weekends have been miserably rainy, so on top of not getting anything done out there, the weeds are many and huge. But I still hope for the best and long to cross something off this damn list. Good luck on yours. Love the jewelry. Karin

  20. Heather says:

    A few years back I got myself a household notebook & it’s great for just keeping track of anything. To do lists, packing lists, things to remember, etc. All in one place. If I am taking notes during an important phone call – there it goes. The pages get ripped out when I no longer need them.

    It always helps to have a list & then cross things off otherwise it just gets too overwhelming. I think I have 21 things to do when in reality there are only 20.

  21. Melissa in North Carolina says:

    The thing about my lists is that they have to be paper lists, not electronic. Like everyone else, crossing a completed task off feels good, sometimes good enough to motivate me to complete another task just so I can cross it off. Sometimes I’ll write a task on the list I’ve already completed, just so I can cross it off!!! Currently, I have a couple lists. One for a big baby shower I’m putting together for a friend on May 16th and then my personal list for around the house and the patio. Karen, you need to take some time to smell the roses!

  22. SuzyMcQ says:

    Lovely photo styling. You had me at the color turquoise. Add a deer antler and I’m over the moon!

  23. Jenifer says:

    ” take care of things around the house that will die if I don’t feed them (chickens, cats, plants, dreams).”

    I LOVE that you included dreams!!!! I always forget that one! Well, and the chickens because my husband is a party pooper…and the cats because I don’t have any but I do have dogs and kids so it’s like the same thing. I just have to remember my dreams!!

  24. Rebecca says:

    I love writing lists. I can’t believe a picture of a To-Do list can look that beautiful! I like what Edith said about having 4 lists: Inside, Outside, Errands, Research. Very organized, very efficient. I will be doing that from now on.

  25. Grosir Dream catcher Kalung Dreamcatcher | Jual Dreamcatcher Produsen says:

    Nice sharing!
    Keep spreading good vibes, xoxoxo

  26. Jennifer White says:

    You stole my list!!!!

  27. Diane Amick says:

    Alas, I, too, am a list maker – lovelovelove making lists. AND, it really does help me stay on track. Since my hubbie retired I also make lists for him. We put a white board up in his workshop and it has categories (things I want him to do, things he wants to do, things paying customers want him to do). He seems to love his list also – loves crossing off the items completed. He does NOT want to erase them after they are crossed off – likes to see what he has accomplished, so they only get removed when the board is full and we have to erase everything and start over. Currently we are making a huge shrub bed at the front of our yard that encompasses the fence line and several rather large trees. Most of the planting has been accomplished, the border lines painted and trenched, and yesterday he scalped the grass in that area with a weed-eater and purchased the first of many loads of bulk mulch. Today – after applying the first coat of polyurethane to the desk/work table combination he made for our 30-year old son – I begin laying and wetting thick layers of newspaper while he scoops (using the tractor’s bucket) and delivers mulch (he never complains when he gets to use some type of mechanical equipment while I do the manual labor part). I’m off to attempt a list cross-off!!

  28. Connie S. says:

    I totally agree Karen – I luv Lists too ! and they have to be written down on paper becuz the electronic thing doesn’t work for me either. Keeps me organized with all the thoughts swirling in my head too – i calm down once my list is written . YUP – type A thats me and I get great satisfaction crossing items off it 😉 There is my master list and the wee little lists of things i need to remember but not so critical as the other BIG things i have to do. Believe it or not , when i’m really busy i DO pencil in some fun things to do on that list or I’d be working all the time and at the end of the day that’s all i’ve done- work work work! A girls’ gotta have her fun too:) If i go to the grocery store without my list – heaven help me , for the life of me i can’t remember a thing i need. Hubby gets a ” honey- do” list too which he absolutely loves (NOT) but I think secretly he finds it helpful. Bring on those lists;)

  29. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    Good! I need to do this anyway..Thanks for the motivation Karen..Seeing how hard you work every Spring is always a help..I just have to work a a slower pace because of all of my health problems..I have so much that needs done around here..Don’t know if I can show you my list but it will be done!!

  30. Ei Con says:

    I’ve been happy with an iPhone app called Clear for making lists. You can have several lists going at the same time and the app makes a rewarding swish sound when you swipe a list entry. Which then appears with a line thru it. It even has a reminder option. My most active list is called Thrift Store to help remember the odd stuff that need but Only if I can pay a dollar for it.

  31. christine hilton says:

    I am going to make a list of my lists and take it to the new adult ADD study at MacMaster.I’m thinking they’ll make me the Queen and give me a sash.If not I’ll pin 300 sash diys for later.

  32. janpartist says:

    I’m an artist, I don’t do lists. I watch time fly by. Every weekend I have a project, maybe it’s only laundry sometimes it involves actual project like things that take several weekends to complete. I find it amazing when large projects get accomplished. Last weekend I finally completed landscaping the front of my house. The previous shrubs had been torn out 2yrs ago. And, in the interim I try and be an 8-5 office worker, artist, Mom, and Grama. When I had more energy, I made lists, somewhere along the line I realized I never included being me on the list. Now, I try and accomplish what I can while I enjoy a little being me along the way.

  33. Irene says:

    Oh oh! 😀
    The BEST list I’ve ever seen was written by the WORST procrastinator I have ever met; beautiful soul, lovely man, but he so very much wore the procrastinator crown.
    He lived in our house, and one day, for one reason or other, I had to look for something in his wardrobe. Stuck on the inside door:
    1.) Wake up.
    2.) Pee and poo.
    3.) Make coffee.
    4.) Drink coffee…
    and so it went. SERIOUSLY the best list evaaaa; look at how many things you get to cross off before your eyes are even properly open! Such a sense of achievement. 😀

  34. Jay says:

    My Dad loves a good list, I love a good list and now my 9 year old daughter writes lists for everything. Today, home from school feeling ill, she wrote my To Do list for me and crossed off each job as I completed it. “Everything’s better with a List, Mummy.”
    My list for this year includes:
    – take driving lessons (my personally phobia)
    – volunteer weekly at food bank and school
    – plant wildflower mini-meadow at bottom of the garden
    – write a resume and get career advice (after 16 years self-employment working from home – eek)

    Two of those things terrify me. I’m being brave because I like me better when I face up to the stuff that scares me. But it doesn’t make it easy

  35. Debbie says:

    My to-do lists have to-do lists. I live by lists. I cross out and recopy. It keeps me sane.

  36. Mindy says:

    I’m OBSESSED with lists. I LOVE them. I make lists for every single thing. I crossed two things off a major to do list yesterday and it was amazing. And yes, there are different levels of to do lists. The, maybe when I’m rich list, and the, I’m poor, vacuum your damn self, list. I love them all.

    • Karen says:

      I’ve had get a weekly housekeeper on my list for about 5 years. Everyone thinks working from home you should be able to clean your own house, but working from home just means you’re making a mess of it every hour of the day. Plus … it’s a housekeeper. Who doesn’t want that? ~ karen

  37. Laura Bee says:

    Oooh I have not been making lists lately & I think it’s because I am afraid of it all. I’ve been grocery shopping without a list too. Today I needed bread, cheese & laundry soap. $104 later…..

    Making that list in the morning. Thank you for getting me (hopefully) back to my lists!

  38. Sue says:

    Keep it up Karen. Your industrious nature is inspiring.

  39. I make lists all the time….I think it is genetically encoded in the woman in our family. The list that is going right now is about half done. I decided to build a wood shed and that has stumped me up for the last two weeks as I usually don’t build them and figured it would be a three day job. Needless to say my list is 11 days behind. I think I will put a new list on my list, that way I can scrub out the old list!

  40. Kimmi says:

    I love a good list. It’s the ONLY thing that keeps me focused on things that need to get done!

  41. Wow! I love that you have goals. I agree, “a girls gotta have some goals.” I have a few goals of myself this summer. These are the big ones I need to do for sure:

    1. Run half a marathon
    2. Move into my new house.
    3. Plan my trip to Mexico.

    Thanks for sharing your to do list with us. Hope you enjoy mine as well!

  42. Leslie says:

    I think your chickens are going to enjoy having a soil floor in their run. Lots of interesting things will creep in there for them to scratch & peck. Watch out for escape tunnels, though. 😀

  43. leslie says:

    Just FYI- I took up all the straw in my coop and run a few years ago because it would pack down and get moldy during our NM monsoon season. I put a thick layer of sand down in their run and now it drains beautifully within hours of raining (I switched to wood shavings in the coop which I can turn over several times before I add it to the compost). Even if you put straw on top, the sand will provide a drier layer between the straw and the dirt.

  44. rica says:

    That blue n gold necklace of yours is realllyy adorable. Love it…love it…love it.
    Sorry for not commenting on your post.

    • Karen says:

      LOL. That’s O.k. Love my necklace too! In fact I love it so much I bought the same one for one of my sisters for Christmas! ~ karen

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