One in four have items on their to do lists that will never be done

Article date: 30 September 2013

  • Three quarters of parents use ‘to do’ lists to manage family matters
  • ‘To do’ tasks include spending more time with family and friends
  • People most likely to procrastinate over financial matters UK

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:

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

The great British put off

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.

Aviva has today launched a campaign to promote the importance of life insurance. Adverts can be heard on Heart FM, Absolute Radio, Capital FM, Bauer, Free Radio (West Midlands) and Total Real Radio UK.

To support the adverts, short films where consumers explain their experiences and understanding of life insurance will be available on The materials will also be used to support a digital advertising campaign that utilises new media such as KindleFire, a first for UK life insurers. In addition, consumers will be encouraged to think about protecting people who matter most to them through a social media campaign via Facebook, Twitter, blogs and through a partnership with Mumsnet.

To find out more about life insurance from Aviva visit or contact a financial adviser.

- Ends -

If you are a journalist and would like further information, please contact:

Sarah Poulter : Aviva Press Office : 01904 452828 : 07800 691569 :

Notes to editors:

The research was conducted in September 2013 by OnePoll Research. 2,000 parents across the UK were interviewed in an online poll.

Aviva provides insurance, savings and investment products to 34 million customers worldwide.

We are the UK’s largest insurer with over 14 million customers and one of Europe’s leading providers of life and general insurance. We combine strong life insurance, general insurance and asset management businesses under one powerful brand. We are committed to serving our customers well in order to build a stronger, sustainable business, which makes a positive contribution to society, and for which our people are proud to work.

We are ranked as one of the UK’s top ten most valuable brands and Aviva Plc is in the top 10% of socially responsible companies globally in the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index.  In 2012 we invested £5.7m into our UK communities. One in three of our employees were involved in community investment activities which included giving nearly 30,000 hours.

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