I make lists and charts to organize my thoughts AND relieve the tension in my brain. I find that the act of writing down ideas and goals activates a subconscious problem solving feature of my mind. It seems to be the programming that came with “the unit.” Earlier in my life, I used to feel more pressure from lists. Now, lists set me free!
That’s not to say I don’t refer to the lists and check things off. I do. But just the act of making the list stimulates some sort of automatic scheduling process.
- Some things are priorities,
- some are time sensitive, and
- some are just reminders.
Perhaps it is strange, but one of the best times for me to make a list is at the end of the day. I think it is because what I haven’t gotten done is floating in the corners of my mind. In fact, keeping something to write with by my bedside has resulted in much more peaceful sleep. Those floating ideas inevitably come up right behind my eyeballs as soon as I get comfortable.
There are other things I have learned about lists and charts:
- Make use of permanent, sometimes re-printable, lists and charts to save time. Post them where you need it. For instance, the garden watering chart is close to the back door – with a pen handy.
- Make categorized lists or charts every few months. I have separate lists for gardening, home repair, gift giving, vehicle maintenance, accounting, etc. These lists and charts tend to make family communications flow better. :-) Once over half of the items have been crossed off, it gets hard to read, so I re-do it. Post these types of lists at the administrative center and/or the location of activity.
- Write a new daily list for most days. Each day is different. (However, I usually give myself one day a week to do whatever I want whenever I feel like it.)
- Use a blank page, journal-type book (best) or spiral notebook (these tend to fall apart more easily…), so that it is easy to flip back and see what might have gotten missed recently. Put the date at the top of each day. I don’t use a highly structured planner because it doesn’t leave me enough flexibility for how I want to make notes.
- Don’t be bothered by “carry over.” It will either reveal to you that something really isn’t a priority OR it will remind you enough that you will finally get it done.
- Have codes for how things are marked. I put a straight line through completed tasks. It visually blocks it, but neatly. However, I use a squiggly when transferring something to another day. That helps me when I am looking back and forth between lists. I sometimes use different color highlighters when items involve different family members. I will often highlight time sensitive items.
- Leave room for notes and adjustments. Just a calendar with appointments is not sufficient for me. Life is more that just filling time slots.
- Leave yourself wiggle room. Don’t let the organization inhibit useful creativity or worthwhile conversations.
- Schedule fun and relaxation to some extent. Sometimes tell yourself when to stop working. Sometimes make sure you do something you want to.
- Be realistic. Okay, I don’t really know how to do this. And on second thought, why? If you want to have fun with your lists and enjoy the challenge, make them as crazy as you want. Just realize what you are doing and don’t get stressed out about it!
- Make people in your life a priority. For me, this means two things: 1) I treat what they want done as important, and 2) I try to be aware of just being with people, instead of always doing things.
The lists and charts are your tools. You are the Master. They are there to be used as flexibly or as routinely as helps you accomplish the things you need and want to do. Sometimes, you could even make the list from another point of view, say the family dog’s, just for the fun of it.
- Do morning check of the yard, including walking the perimeter for guard dog practice
- Help lick the left-over breakfast bowls while Mom cleans the kitchen
- Let chickens out and sniff their feathers, since the fam is letting me do that now…
- Sing while kids practice the piano
- Check on the cats sleeping indoors
- Go on run with Mom
- Lay around on Mom’s feet while she pays the bills
Let your kids make your list and their lists some days and see what they come up with. :-) Have fun while you get things done!