Are you a list-er? Do you jot down lists to keep yourself on track?
Over the last few years I’ve heard people spin a negative vibe around lists & list-makers. Especially in the wellness world. You know the saying “less doing, more being”. They describe lists are too masculine and don’t go with the ebb and flow of life. How lists are linear and puts things in a box. And how they set you up for disappointment.
I even began to despise the ‘lists’ myself especially after one teacher described me as a diligent jackhammer – powering through life one task at a time. But in this busy world I can’t expect to sit around and hope these tasks just complete themselves. First of all I wouldn’t have a job! Secondly, I likely wouldn’t have many people in my life either since parenting involves many daily tasks. These many responsibilities also come with many obligations of ‘doing’. And because of that I get easily distracted, often getting pulled out of the moment from fluctuating priorities that need my attention. I’ll suddenly have a needed grocery item pop into my head as I’m running our son to ball practice, or a reminder about an event will show up on my phone that I need to drop things to get ready for. Life would just be complicated and disorganized if these things didn’t make it to a list. Disappointing people, being late, having to run back to the store because I forgot an ingredient. I mean yes of course these things still happen. I’m not super woman after all. But they certainly would happen more if I didn’t have a list.
Those to-do lists help keep me accountable. They conjure up some determination and commitment. I find myself more diligent at keeping on track and at the end of the day I usually feel good about what I have accomplished. It’s when the list becomes too long or overwhelming that I beat myself up repeatedly for not ticking enough things off – hence my negative attitude. But throwing the lists out all together doesn’t work for me, my life, or my personality either.
I don’t want my life to be overwhelmed by lists though! I need time on those lists for myself — to refuel, to fill my cup. And what about making space for spontaneity too?! Because that’s a huge part of my personality also.
So whats the deal – we can’t survive with or without them?!
Well personally I think we can have lists and enjoy life too.
Here’s some super simple but helpful tips I’ve found more realistic for those everyday to-do type lists: (oh you know I’m going to list them right?!! Hahaha)
1. In no particular order make a long list of everything you can think of that’s in need of ‘doing’.
2. Then shortlist it! Look at the long list and prioritize what would serve your life right now best. Write down separately only the top 5-10 things from the long list with the 1st one being top priority. If they are big tasks or huge priorities then list fewer of them.
3. Then do one thing at a time. ( big eye roll here)! Yeah yeah, I know, I’m famous for multitasking too. Here’s the thing though. How often do you start something, then another thing, and another, and never finish any of it because there’s too much on the go? Or things are done half-assed because you were only able to give part of your attention to 5 different things?
I get it. Some things can’t be finished over-night or can be started without requiring a lot of effort or attention. But the point is we get more accomplished if we are fully present with what we are doing. Life is not all about accomplishments either. I know this. Believe me, I come from many years of believing accomplishments were the only thing that would make me happy. But accomplishments don’t have to be winning a nobel prize either. Maybe one to-do list item is to make a meal for yourself or your family. Pouring my full attention into all aspects of that task. What’s wrong with that accomplishment? Nourishing yourself and or others. Check! Simple, honorable, & purposeful!
4. Re-evaluate your list the next day or week perhaps. Looking at the long list first. Seeing if anything has jumped up the scale in priority or do you need to add more things to it.
5. Repeat step 2 & 3.
So what if there’s a train-wreck of a day and nothing gets ticked off the list?
Of course this is bound to happen. Life throws us lemons after all. But that’s the beauty of trying our best and letting go of the things we can’t control. The sunrises each morning and we are blessed with another chance. So we start over with a new list!
On the bright side, not ALL lists have to be to-do lists!
If someone asked you right now to list your top 5 favorite songs, what would you say?
Need some time to think about it?
I know I would. And maybe you’d surprise yourself with what you came up with. Or maybe there’d be far too many to narrow it down to just 5. Or maybe you have 5 songs that are your favorite when you are in the mood to chill and maybe you have 5 that help you stay motivated during a long run. Or maybe you don’t have time to even think about it!!
The nice thing about listing things not related to necessary tasks is you can learn about yourself. And sometimes that can lead to a slight adjustment on your path’s trajectory. For example listing just 3 things you are grateful for each morning can change your whole mood for the day and perhaps change the direction things are going.
So yes I’m a list-er. But I’ve found that like everything else in life there needs to be balance.
Summer is a time of pure busy-ness for me and my family. We are constantly on the go. More daylight equals more time to do things and subsequently more pressure to find stillness and self-care too. And with a baby arriving here in our household in only a few weeks it’s bound to get even busier.
So in the spirit of officially rolling into Summer this week, I’ve decided to make a commitment to making more non-to-do lists. Yes, haha, another ‘thing’ to-do, but if it helps balance out the ‘to-do’ ones and also provides some insight to my busy life then I see that as a positive. Plus, I’m terrible at being consistent with journaling. So I see the list making as a friendly invitation to turn my lists into more journal entries. If you’re not into journaling or find it a tedious task then this might be just what you need too!
I went out and bought Moorea Seal’s ’52 Lists Project’ book/journal. And this summer I want to share with you on a weekly basis a new non-to-do list from the Summer section. Perhaps you’ll be inspired by the prompt and hopefully take part in the list-making too. The purpose of her book is to help us ‘discover the beauty, joy, creativity, and power’ that already exist in our lives right now.
On Sunday morning for #selfcaresunday I’ll post a new list from her book. I invite you to purchase the book yourself and jot them down with us and/or feel free to share your list on social media with each new post! Hopefully by doing this tiny selfcare act, we will find ways to make each week ‘more thoughtful and vibrant by looking deeply inside to reveal our inner wisdom and confidence!’
Additionally, we can start to find a more positive vibe around ‘lists’ in general. Balancing our non-to-do lists with a short priority based to-do list that helps us stay focused and organized. And perhaps we can find some time to enjoy the feminine ebb and flow of our perfectly imperfect lives while knowing ourselves a little more deeply!
Find a new list prompt starting tomorrow on VivaLaLemon’s Facebook or Instagram account. As always, thanks for reading dear ones!
And as Moorea says, ‘happy listing’!