List Lover

I confess, I am a devotee of lists. Lists are my friends. I take great satisfaction in making lists of things, and then I enjoy crossing these items off my list, one by one.  I will not admit or deny that I add things to my list just so I can have the pleasure of crossing them off.  I have my standards. I cannot add a chore to the list I made today if that task was completed last week.  However, I can add very short tasks (inhale, exhale) if I need more guaranteed check marks or a boost to my self esteem. For those of you who also love lists, you do not need to read further, but you are probably the only people who will keep reading.

I don’t expect everyone to be this nutty, but I may be able to convince you that lists can be very useful.  Here’s the trick – think of lists as a compilation of things you WANT to do, not things that you have to do. For example, I have “Watch Project Runway,” on this weekend’s list.  I also have laundry, pay bills, and sweep the garage on the list and they are not quite as appealing as things-to-do, but I do want to get them done and will be pleased when I have finished.

Tips for list making:

  1. Most importantly, have enough things on your list that you WANT to do, like, “Shop for a camel jacket.”  I was able to check that off rather quickly.
  2. Decide if your list is for a day, week, or six months and make the number of chores appropriate.
  3. If you need to carry things over from one list to another, do it – so what.
  4. Be reasonable.  For a daily list, don’t write, “Lose 8 lbs.”  Maybe you want to say, “Eat a salad” or “Go for a walk.”
  5. Lists that are ridiculously impossible only make you feel bad; they don’t work. Keep it somewhat reasonable.
  6. You are the boss. Change your list if you need to. After all, this is not homework for 6th grade and your teacher isn’t watching.
  7. Break things down into small steps (baby steps).  For example, my monthly list has, “Paint the dining room,” but this weekend has, “Take down the cabinet.” The full week’s list has, “Pick paint color, Buy paint, Tape woodwork” – very possible with llots of check marks.

Lists work.  They get the chores out of your head and on paper; you can think about other things; you won’t forget; you are focused; you feel organized; and you will get more done. Tell me about your lists and share your tips.

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