The Art of the List

lists

Lists make me happy.

An article I read recently actually puts science behind the fact that lists can calm anxiety and bolster creativity.  For me, that’s just the icing on and already delicious cake.

What is it about writing out words on a note pad that is so magical?  I think it’s an OCD organizational thing.  If I feel like my life is getting out of control or becoming too chaotic, writing out tasks gives me some clarity.  By bringing some order to what needs to get done I can see that in reality my life is not quite so crazy as I think it is.

list of lists

Besides would late night tv be without David Letterman’s Top Ten List?  Even Shakespeare references lists in Hamlet.  The Bard refers to “a list of landlesse resolutes” in Act 1 Scene 1.

So what does it take to make a good list?  Well for starters you never have just one list.  On any given day you will find multiple lists in my kitchen.

  • Master To Do List
  • Thing To Do That Day ie: Wednesday
  • Groceries
  • Ideas or Posts to Work On

But it’s not that simple.  There is, I believe, an art to it.

You must have the appropriate piece of paper.

Sure, the right size is important, but so is the layout and look.  You wouldn’t put your Master To Do list on a tiny pad of paper with some realtors face on it.  But a quick shopping list?  Totally okay.  It has been suggested to me that I use my smart phone to record my lists.  It just doesn’t sit right with me.  I’m not sure if it’s an old school things or a tactile thing.  Regardless, the right tool for the job is always key.

blank page

Lists need to be about timing.

Now obviously making a Christmas card list in March is a bit of overkill.  Although, now that I’m saying it, it does make perfect sense.  What I am saying, is that one of the purposes of a list it to save time.  So make it work for you.  Writing out your grocery list in the order that you walk the aisles at the grocery store is a huge time saver.  If you have half a dozen errands to do not only will your list remind you what needs to get down but it can serve as a map for your route.

Tasks on your lists need to be realistic.

If you make a list of things to do that are unattainable, the list can’t serve it purpose.  It will only serve to frustrate you when you are unable to complete them.  There’s definitely a sense of accomplishment that comes with crossing things off of a list.  Even if you are just crossing it off because you have decided that it belongs on a different list.  Ya, that counts.  Bottom line?  World Peace shouldn’t necessarily  be on your list.

It’s really not rocket science, but lists can make you feel like a super hero. Everyone admires somebody who can keep things on track and get stuff done.  Don’t they?

The Best Thing in Life is a really good list.

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Just Do It

just do it

Three simple words that Nike has used for years to inspire.  But sometimes even the great and powerful Nike can’t make you “just do it”.  Quite often, the even more powerful foe, procrastination, wins the battle.

How many of you out there have something that you need to get done and well, you just aren’t doing it?  I’m gonna go with about 97% of you.  Maybe more.  And if you are one of the 3% that are doing everything.  Call me.  We need to talk.

I had a small task I needed to get done a few weeks ago.  Nobody else would be effected if I didn’t do it.  Nobody would even know if I didn’t do it.  But I knew that I needed to get it done….for my own good.  Yet, it sat there on my To Do list for days.  Taunting me and laughing at me each morning.  I could have just crossed it off and moved on.  But I didn’t.

I did it.  Eventually.  And once it was done it felt so good.  I actually felt good about two seconds after I started doing it because I knew then that it was going to get done. And it only took me about half an hour.  Half an hour.  So why did it take me so long to get it done?

According to Psychology Today the underlying reasons most people procrastinate is fear of failure, fear of success or perfectionism.  Fear of success?  Pretty sure that I think I can cross the last two off.  But I knew that nobody else would see or judge what I did.  How could I fail if that was the case.  Yes, the mind is a strange and powerful force that can make you do things without you even knowing.

The funny thing is that I see my son and my husband doing it too and it drives me crazy.

“Why haven’t you booked your drivers test yet?”

“Dunno. Busy.”

Busy?  Doing what?  Now me, I’m really busy.  I could be busy all day long.  There’s laundry and cleaning the cat’s box and sorting my sock drawer.  (No really, that actually is something I need to do). The fact of the matter is none of us are so busy that we can’t do that thing that needs to get done.  Typically it’s something that we know will help us.  Be it financially, emotionally or spiritually.  But yet we put it off in favor of a menial task that has no consequence.

Is there a solution to this dilemma?  Other than Nike’s?  A way to put aside the fear of whatever it may be that is holding us back?  If there is, I really need to know what it is because once I completed my small task……I realized that it had led me to an even bigger task.  And now I’m not getting that done either.

The Best Thing in Life is just getting it done.

PS. I’ve been meaning to write this for a while now but well, you know.