Aussie ‘to do lists’ can last a decade

Kate Willbourn-Trevett, with her daughter Isla, admits her own to-do list has grown as she juggles motherhood and work. Picture: Justin SansonSource:News Corp Australia
Kate Willbourn-Trevett, with her daughter Isla, admits her own to-do list has grown as she juggles motherhood and work. Picture: Justin SansonSource:News Corp Australia

WELCOME to the procrasti-nation of Australia - where if something needs doing, it can wait until tomorrow.

More than 500,000 of us have had errands on our to-do lists for more than a decade. Even the most diligent 1.5 million of us take at least two years to sort our lists out, while another one million Australians say they deliberately avoid opening letters that look "admin-related".

And another 14 per cent of Aussies admit to ignoring or simply not returning phone calls from companies looking for payments.

The surprising findings come from research commissioned for Medibank's new 24/7 on-demand service, which also shows that too many Australians are procrastinating when it comes to health.

Of more than 1030 Australians surveyed last month, 75 per cent of women said they avoided medical appointments while 62 per cent of men admitted to doctor dodging.

"What is concerning about not being able to keep up with 'life admin' is that we can see this may be impacting people's health, from skipping appointments to putting up with symptoms," Medibank clinical director Dr Sue Abhary said.

Women were the worst dental shirkers, with 57 per cent of females avoiding the dentist's chair compared to 44 per cent of males.

All up, the average Australian has 13 outstanding tasks ready to be tackled but forever turned over to a new day, ranging from sorting out tax returns, dealing with superannuation and simple medical appointments, to taking care of household bills.

The researchers calculated Australians collectively have some 238 million "life admin" items on our to-do lists - but three-quarters of us reported a sense of dread about them.

Social researcher Neer Korn, who has been running focus groups for a Nestle Good Life Quiz wellness project, said today's mums faced enormous pressure juggling work and families and while they aspired to lead a balanced life, they also struggled to find time to get things done. "You will find many women exercise early in the morning or late at night - it's the only guilt-free time they can find," he said.

"Mum has a constant spreadsheet running in her head all the time, managing the household. It's a very difficult thing to do. She's doing far more than 20 or more years ago."

When Fairlight mother Kate Willbourn-Trevett had a baby, she traded her corporate life to start a business called Foodies Collective, sending gourmet food boxes around the country - but she admits her own "to-do" list has fallen far behind.

"With a toddler I'm now the busiest I've ever been, it's been a whirlwind," Ms Willbourn-Trevett said.

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