That Influential to-do-list.
I have a To-Do-List. Sometimes it is in my head, but most times it is on paper. Sometimes I have two lists: one in my head and one on paper!
The one on paper is easy to follow. The one in my head? Not so much. But I have figured out a way to remember what is in my head. I alphabetize it. I’m heading to the grocery, and I need B, K, J, and M [butter, ketchup, Jello and Milk]. I do the same with my “housekeeping mind list.”
My goal: do not allow THE LIST to rule my life and schedule. Instead, use itemization to help accomplish what is important. A second goal is to remember deadlines, which is why those deadlines are included.
When our tribe of kiddos was small, you bet I felt like I accomplished nothing all-the-livelong-day. I made a list so I could recognize I was not a failure. Every unmade bed was on that paper – one bed per line!
On some days, I included things such as: fix breakfast, fix lunch, decide what to fix for supper. Once that item was complete, you can bet your bottom dollar it got scratched off! By mid-morning when the main rooms of my house screamed chaos, I didn’t feel so under-accomplished because I had already completed some things on my list! Even though the laundry was piled high and yet unfolded, I’d already crossed off the following: sort laundry; wash and hang out; bring laundry in. It saved my sanity.
You know what I discovered as I went through my day? There were times I failed to play with my kids, mix up that batch of Play Dough I promised, or find toys for play in the sandbox as requested because it wasn’t on my list.
First things first
I started adding those things to my list. It wasn’t because my children had to have their mother play with them (they didn’t), and it was not because they were incapable of entertaining themselves (they were). I did this because it mattered that sometime throughout the day I showed them in their language I loved them instead of just telling them so.
You know what putting Time for Kids on my checklist did for me? It helped me slow down and look into their eyes, feel the softness of their skin, and actually hear the music in their voices. When I crossed that off, the feeling of accomplishment was not one of “There, that’s done!” but “I’m so glad I took the time to smile into their eyes.”
I included Interruptions on my daily goals. Interruptions were guaranteed, so I needed to “schedule” accordingly: a sick kid, a splinter; a cranky toddler; a call from a spouse with a plea for help; a phone call from someone who needed a listening ear. When I included Interruptions on my daily projects, I watched for the moment instead of resisting interruptions when they happened. And yes, of course, I got to mark it as an accomplishment! While this might not help you, it helped me recognize that life was more about relationships than things, plus it changed my attitude toward interruptions.
My changing daily tally
Now that my kids are grown and gone, my list keeps changing. The other day I finally added “mend Dave’s jeans” to items I wanted to accomplish that day. They’d been piled in a corner waiting for weeks while I ignored them because I do not like to mend. Yet, those jeans were always there, niggling my mind. So – you guessed it – I added them to my day’s agenda. Never got it crossed off that first day, but those jeans went right back on that list for the next day. Yep. They’re back in the closet ready for wear.
Adding things on my list that I tend to put off for later helps me quit procrastinating and stop being lazy. I am really good at procrastinating when it’s something I don’t want to do. It helps me take care of things that matter to Dave, even if they don’t matter to me (like Iced Tea in the fridge).
I no longer include “make bed” on my list because it’s something that just happens. But I do include my Bible reading and devotions, exercise, and drinking 8 glasses of water per day on that list. Those things are important, and putting them on my list helps me focus on what’s important; it gives me a goal and helps me aim for that goal.
Time well spent
Wasted time is not something of which we should be proud. We are here to serve others and not look out for ourselves. At the same time, we have responsibilities that must be tended to – and that includes upkeep of our home, doing our jobs well, and nurturing our spirit-life. We also need to take care of ourselves, which includes time for rest and rejuvenation.
If having that list stifles you, then don’t use one. If having specified things written down that you need to accomplish in a day (or a week), helps you attain your goal, then by all means, keep track of what needs to happen so you can mark it off when it’s complete.