By Daniel Hunter
Everyday tasks that fall outside the normal 9 to 5 are so overwhelming that the number of people lying awake at night fretting about tasks from paying off their credit cards to booking a doctor's appointment is almost the same as the population of the North West of England1, according to new research released by the Payments Council.
The Life's Long List report1, has been put together using research from a Populus study of 2,085 UK adults. It found that one in five of us find our daily ‘to-do list' so overwhelming that it plays on our mind all the time, and nearly one-in-seven of us (14%) are so worried by our ‘life admin' tasks that we lose sleep over them.
Surprisingly, it is younger people who are suffering the most. 30% of 18-24 year olds - around 1.8m people, almost the entire UK student population3 - are so concerned by their list that they feel ill and 21% of young people - almost 1.3m people, equivalent of nearly 10 Glastonbury Festivals4 - admit that they lie awake thinking about the things they are yet to strike off their list.
Overall the research reveals that nearly all of us (96%) have a list of tasks that we never seem to get to the bottom of. Household chores appear on 60% of our lists followed closely by tackling home improvements (57%) and general de-cluttering (56%).
Health concerns are also high on our lists. Just under two thirds of us (59%) want to exercise more regularly, but of more concern is the fact that over one in five (22%) of us are failing to book and attend doctor's appointments and over a quarter (27%) keep putting off eye tests.
Social psychologist and life coach Dr Gary Wood, who co-authored the Life's Long List report, explains:
"Today's everyday tasks have a tendency to mount up and appear overbearing if we let them. Stress then triggers our 'fight or flight response'. This distorts our perception of time and limits our sense of the options available to us. We think 'survive' rather than 'thrive'. Instead we need to give ourselves space to sit back and appraise our lists - identifying activities that can be easily tackled and finding a logical way to do so."
Financial planning tasks are not so pressing though. A third of people (35%) keep intending to save for a rainy day and 25% plan to pay off their credit card bill. Moving bank accounts for a better deal features on 16% of our ‘to-do lists', a task that will be made easier from September with the launch of a new Current Account Switch Service. This new service aims to increase competition in banking, making it simpler, quicker and hassle-free for customers to switch their current account.
Lack of time is the reason given by most people for never reaching the end of their ‘to-do lists', with a third (33%) claim there is just not enough time in the day to get on top of everything.
As the number of tasks build up our ability to cope is also compromised. If we had no choice but to start tacking our list tomorrow, 20% of us think it would take a whole week to complete and a massive 61% think it would take a couple of weeks or more.