Organizing Your Life Through Your Lists

Are you a list person?

I can name about four places in my home where a running list can be found at any time. My work life? Forget it! Although I consider myself to be quite organized, I have a constant circulation of about 15 sheets of paper with scribbles written in every which direction. That is how I have established “order”.  The irony is that “the list” is the origin of a lot of the stress and anxiety in my world. I mean, who feels at peace when they are constantly visually reminded of all the unaccomplished things that are still left undone? Puh-lease… I have items on some of my lists that have been written and rewritten more times than I would like to admit. Sure, there is great satisfaction in crossing things off. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE that, but it definitely doesn’t happen as often as I would like.

Let’s DO Something About It…

First, where are your lists? They may be stored in our minds as ongoing ticker boards of tomorrow’s responsibilities. You know, the lists that don’t turn off when the lights do. Maybe it’s a magnetic note pad on your fridge with honey-do’s and grocery items. Perhaps there is Google Doc that you can access from one of your eight different electronic devices, or a Life Planner that lives in your purse (that always weighs 862 lbs. no matter how many times you clean it out). Let’s  simplify.

Give things a home. Do your best to have 2-3 lists, dedicated to their own topics and responsibilities. Maybe you don’t even need that many! For example, I have a traveling spiral notebook list to keep in my purse, a fridge list for groceries and errand items, and a work list for you guessed it… work only. Separating does not mean having 12 lists. Get real about it. If you are a digital person, check out Wunderlist. I personally need to physically write it and be able to hold the piece of paper, but that may work better for you.

Next, prioritize. This has been a life saver, and an ongoing effort. You do not need to look at “it” every day on the list if it is something to be accomplished in three weeks. I have a daily list of tasks/ actions that must be completed each day. If we only include the “musts”… the list gets a lot shorter. Be gentle with yourself and your time. I have been there, booked minute to minute with a demanding work schedule or juggling over-commitment. Not cool. The fortunate and unfortunate reality is that YOU are the only person with the power to make this change. So take a baby step and try.

Lastly, be flexible. Creating habits organically through seeing what works and what doesn’t has served me best, especially with the new welcomed responsibility of managing a home, our joint finances, and dual schedules/ social circles. MOST importantly, control the list – not the other way around. Each day is sweet and precious gifted with the intention of joy. Don’t let your to-do’s rob you of that opportunity! Share a smile, take more deep breaths, and count your blessings. Those three things can turn just about anything around.


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