This week, I spoke with a friend about the reality of an endless to-do list. Lists include work responsibilities, children’s activities, household duties, familial obligations, and personal tasks. We commiserated that these lists have the hope of an ending — but the reality is that the list hustle is not set up to end because we are conditioned to continue to add tasks to our lists.
Do you remember what it felt like while adjusting to the reality of life during the pandemic? I remember getting comfortable with the idea of a divine reset. Finally, a forced clearing of my calendar.
No time for kids’ sports because they were all canceled. Great! Family game nights and cooking dinner with kids.
No more in-person meetings due to COVID-19 restrictions? Woot! I can finally get to upgrading the technological aspects of my law firm.
Virtual school because the campus was closed? Woohoo. You get to be a school teacher and try to do all of your work. (Wait. This was indeed the worst.)
However, like hamsters on a wheel, we have reversed the positive gains of having a cleared-off calendar, spending more time with family and friends (virtual counts), and learning how to perfect that sourdough bread. I have noticed the switch to a typical prepandemic attitude of doing the most, saying yes to more and more, and spending less downtime.
I was tempted to write a list of three to five things to do to avoid piling on work and commitments to your day, but I didn’t want to add to your list. I’ll leave you with this advice: say no to more things.
That may mean not always volunteering to be the room mom for your elementary kids. You may even decide to take the entire year off. It may mean saying no to duties at your law firm that are a time suck and take you away from completing your work — for example, serving as the chair of the party planning committee or managing the hiring process. If alternative solutions exist, like outsourcing or delegating to someone with less on their plate, do that. If not, consider whether you can handle the task differently next time.
The word “no” has served me well. With four kids, having the ability to say no is a superpower. It allows me to show my family that I have boundaries, and that’s OK. At work, delegating has allowed me to see the benefit of taking tasks off my plate or letting them go altogether — no one available to train and supervise an intern, then no intern for this season.
Can you relate to having an endless to-do list? What things can you take off your list to make your life easier? Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to let me know!
Iffy Ibekwe is the principal attorney of Ibekwe Law, PLLC. She believes that women deserve to make decisions that affect them with wills, trusts, and other estate planning documents. Activating women is Iffy’s calling, and she also loves speaking internationally about entrepreneurship, estate planning, motherhood, and supporting other women lawyers. Currently, Iffy is writing her first book on culturally competent estate planning, available in 2023 (prayers up!). A double-Longhorn, Iffy graduated from The University of Texas (undergrad and law) and has practiced law for over 15 years. Iffy can be reached by email at email@example.com, her website, LinkedIn, and Instagram @iffyibekweesq.