By Daniel Hunter

Three quarters of parents use ‘to do’ lists to manage family matters, but according to life insurer Aviva, one in four (24%) lists include items that will never be done.

The ‘Family Matters’ study of 2,000 UK parents has found that while six in ten families (58%) feel more in control using ‘to dos’, for many they are a wish-list rather than a reality.

Half of respondents (49%) admit they have had things on their lists for three months or more before getting around to them, while a further 5% say there have been items that took more than five years to complete.

List items are usually practical with ‘paying bills’ topping the poll of most popular must-dos. However people’s busy lifestyles are also evident, with one in five (20%) adding ‘catching up with friends’ to their list and one in seven (14%) committing to spending more time with their children.

Top 10 things on people’s to do lists:

- Paying bills (51%)
- Reminders re family birthdays etc (45%)
- Sorting out paperwork (44%)
- Doing odd jobs around the house (43%)
- Going for medical check-ups (38%)
- Budget planning (37%)
- Sorting out insurances (36%)
- Spring cleaning / sorting out cupboards (35%)
- Fixing or mending things (35%)
- Gardening (34%)

While ‘to do’ lists document the jobs that need to be done, six out of 10 parents admit there are times when they purposefully procrastinate.

Financial matters - such as sorting out insurance or banking matters - are most likely to make people stall, with one in five (20%) putting them off. This is followed by washing and ironing school uniforms (14%) and dealing with paperwork from school (12%).

Even when people know it could be in their interests, there’s still the temptation to delay. Almost a quarter (22%) say they plan to take out family protection, and a third (33%) plan to review savings and investment products - but have never quite got around to it.

Louise Colley, protection distribution director for Aviva says: “With such busy lifestyles it’s no surprise that families use lists to keep on top of things. However there’s a temptation to focus on things we like doing, which can mean really important jobs stay on the list. It’s vital that people make time to sort out the things that don’t just keep the household ticking over, but help to protect family life too. Taking a little time to do this, could really benefit your family in the long run.

“For example, we know that many families mean to take out life insurance but find themselves putting it off until tomorrow. Sadly for some people tomorrow could be too late, so we’d urge people to take action and start looking into protecting their families’ futures today. After all, it could be one thing to cross off the list!”

Aviva’s research also found:

- Mums are more likely to use ‘to do’ lists as a memory aid: 81% compared to 63% of dads.

- A third of people (35%) review their list every day, whereas a similar number do so every week.

- Three in 10 (30%) of people carry their list in their heads, while 27% have a written list. A list-loving 18% do both.

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