Balancing your to-do list!

[notice]A fortnightly column by Anna Heydenrych.[/notice]

Do you sometimes find it difficult to turn your brain off, to slow down the internal dialogue in your mind?  There is an analogy of the difference between the brain of a woman and the brain of a man; you might have heard it before.

Apparently, a man’s brain is full of little boxes and none of these boxes touch each other.  For example, there is a box for work, a box for sport, a box for his wife/girl friend etc.  You get the idea.  Now the woman’s brain is quite different as it is full of boxes too, but each box is connected to every other box.  I suppose this explains why it is that my husband seems to be able to shift quite effortlessly and quickly from conversation with the wife mode to sleep mode.  I, on the other hand will lie awake long after he has fallen asleep, with all kinds of thoughts passing through my mind.

This is not to say that my husband does not have a lot on his mind. I know that he does, it’s just that the boxes in his brain don’t touch each other.  Has a man ever absolutely forgotten (or by his account “was never told”) something that you told him?  You possibly told him something while he was in watching sport mode.  Timing is everything, but I digress.

What I really wanted to write about today is how to create a bit of balance as a busy woman with a long to-do list.  In my last column I wrote about how rest can actually make us more productive.  I enjoy painting, and am busy painting a picture at the moment.  I can sit for hours focused in on my artwork, but it is only when I take a step back and pause that I see the whole picture and where I have gone wrong.  If I don’t step back, I might miss a mistake I have made and might even make more mistakes because something key is out of line.

I find that because I have so much on my mind, and a long to-do list every day, I am tempted to keep going, and feel guilty about taking a moment to stand back and pause.  I was reading a glamour magazine the other day (something I am vehemently against, but nonetheless the magazine came with a free mascara) and I laughed at something I read.  It was a humorous column about things women should do to allow themselves a bit of balance in their lives.  It said “Instead of scoffing down your tuna salad in front of your computer every day, allow yourself a break to eat your lunch.”  This made me laugh because it’s such simple, silly advice, but it spoke directly to me.  In fact, I just finished off a slice of toast (burnt because I was multi-tasking) while writing this column!

Well, I have just gone and admitted that although I have set out to write about how to create balance, I am still eating burnt toast over my keyboard, so it would appear that I am not yet an authority on the subject.  Balance is a bit of a vague term anyway, isn’t it?  And when it comes to real life, as good as our intentions are to ‘create balance’, things come up and we have to add them to our to-do list, we have to rely on our excellent multi-tasking abilities as woman now and again.  The important thing, I think, is to be aware of our need for rest and regard this need as important enough to add to our to-do list.  So there you go, if you are a busy woman struggling to get through everything in your days, add one more thing to your list – rest.  Maybe it’s a 10 minute walk around the block after work, or maybe a cup of tea by yourself in the morning. Remember rest means not thinking about your to do list!

A daily quiet time is wonderful, and it’s called a quiet time for a reason.  I find that my quiet time can sometimes turn into a recounting of my to-do list as I pray to God about what’s going on in my life.  This is important, but I also need to have ‘quiet time’, to just meditate on God’s word and rest in His peace.

I remember some advice from a woman’s conference that I recently attended.  When asked how she maintains balance in her life, the speaker said, “I remain present at whatever I am doing.”  What she meant was that when she is with her children or husband, she is a mother and wife, and isn’t distracted by her work.  While she is at work she focuses on her tasks and gives them her best without allowing her mind to wander, so that she is able to leave work behind and to be fully available to her family when she is with them.


  1. Your comments are always so simple, yet so true and a wonderful reminder to us all. Thank you, Anna, I really enjoy your column & will in future enjoy it with a cup of coffee during my rest period.

  2. Lovely column Anna – you are on the right track – and be blessed and take it easy as souls don’t come with replacement parts !!!

  3. Dear Anna Thank you for good practical advice….. phone me when you are ready then you and Fred can come out to our Grootnek Guest Farm again just to balance your to do list…it is excellent food for the soul out at Grootnek. Kind regards Gawie & Erika

  4. Thank you for the encouraging comments, and we will definitely get in touch with you, Gawie, about a weekend to your lovely farm, a great place for a bit of rest and relaxation!