What Every Woman Should Know … An Evolving Project


What she can and can’t accomplish in a day…

A month…

And a year…

– Pamela Redmond Satran
The view from the lawn of the Albany Institute of History and Art, Albany, NY. Too often, I feel as though my life is going off in strange, jarring directions, because I’m trying to do too much, all at once, without rest. Time for a bit of sanity….

The quote above could have been written for me.

Every day, I think of so many things that really can benefit from my time and attention, and when I list them out, it seems reasonable to stretch for more, and then a little more, and then even more…

And it’s almost universally too much.

So, for the rest of this year, which has presented me at least a mountain range of things to do in addition to the things I was already doing (and made some things that had consumed a great deal of my energy suddenly irrelevant), I am going to shift my focus and make my first steps toward acquiring some vital information…

I need to learn where my personal limits are:

What can I accomplish in an hour?

What can I accomplish in a day?

What can I accomplish in a week?

What can I accomplish in a month?

What can I accomplish in a season?

What can I accomplish in a year?

But those questions feel like I’m asking myself “how much can I squeeze in?” And, reading that list up there, I feel the same old tension, the same slight edge of panic that I will never get to it all, or be doing enough.

I think that’s where the problem is. Looking at it this way  puts me in checklist mode. I need to tip my head, look at it sideways, upside down, maybe even through funhouse mirrors, binoculars, microscopes, 3D glasses, or stained glass…

I need a different angle, and new shadings.

Dandelion gone to seed in the front yard. Photo by Lise Burton. All rights reserved; used with permission.

And so the noodling begins…

I need to see not how much I can get done, but to figure out what is most important to get done:

For myself

For my children

For our animal companions

For our home

For my wider circle of family and friends

For professional development

For others

Aha! Now I think I’m on to something. There’s kind of an order here – maybe the beginnings of a priority list?

My next post will deal with just this – how to set newer and saner priorities. Look for it at the end of the week, in this space!


  1. What you’re saying reminds me of the days I had an accomplishment book. I got so overwhelmed by what I didn’t do that I never celebrated what I did do. So for a while, I listed all my wins for a given day. But slowly it reverted to a checklist. From there, I went into militant mode and scheduled the larger part of my day (7am to 4pm) by 15-minute chunks. But as I fell behind schedule I started to drown in despair as I failed to meet my timelines. Right now I have a hierarchy of priorities in which I try and tack my to do-s. Though, the feeling of not getting enough dones eats at me.

    Basically, I’m wishing you luck. I’m wishing you success in finding the right balance for you. And I am letting you know, keep at it no matter what happens. If you outgrow systems or need to revisit old/create new ones. Whatever it is, be good to you.

    • Hi, Gloria!

      I so know that feeling of overwhelm. Since Jim died (maybe before, when he got sick, or even earlier, when he started his business), there’s been a tremendous amount of of things to do. At first, I thought I could do them all, or that I should. And maybe I can, but not all at once.

      I’ve had to accept that I can only do so much, and that that’s going to be far less than I want it to be. I’m trying to learn to be okay with that and celebrate the things I do. I’ve been blocking the day into two hour chunks and only schedule three things per block. If I finish them, I don’t move ahead; I keep the time for myself.

      If I don’t get any of these things done, it’s okay. Sometimes life works in a different way – dogs need to be walked, kids need to be talked to, and the house always needs all kinds of things.

      And sometimes I just need to do something like yesterday, when I decided to go with Lise to a home decor consignment shop more or less on a whim.

      Jim used to have a motto. “Eat dessert first.”

      I’m learning.

      I hope you will, too, and that you’ll be good to you, as well.

    • I’ve gotten pretty good at being good to me over the last several years (and especially this last one!)

      I tend to always think I can (and often SHOULD) do more than is remotely feasible.

      I’m learning to relax more, and that the desire to play Plague Inc. or Cake Mania usually means I need to simmer without putting anything else in my brain or on my to-do list.

      Ta-das sprinkled in help, too, especially when what I did was productive, but not what I planned to do

      No militancy for me. I’m mostly paying attention to how I function best, so I can use it to my advantage.

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