I am a lover of lists- long ones, short ones, lists in beautiful notebooks that I buy just to keep track of them, or on the back of old envelopes when I’ve misplaced the notebooks. Lists are a way of capturing all of the constantly swirling ideas and thoughts in my head and pinning them down into a place where I can keep track of them, and later address. Crossing items off of my lists once I have visited the website I read about in a magazine or reached out to a contact gives me a sense of accomplishment, knowing that I am progressing towards… hmm, I’m not sure. Perhaps someplace where I will no longer need to make lists.
Lately, though, I’ve noticed the items on my lists have growing more numerous, and that more and more of them are not getting crossed off. Number one, write three articles for my website on the weekend to give myself more breathing room during the week- uncheck. Number two, create curtains for the bedroom window with fabric I purchased on sale two months ago- uncheck. Number three, develop personal budget that cuts out many unnecessary shopping trips and deposit extra money in my rainy day fund- uncheck (and which possibly explains why those blog articles never seem to get written over the weekend).
What’s happening here? Without lists my life feels like it’s quickly spinning out of control, but when the lists multiply rapidly with items that never get accomplished, I struggle with the sense of never actually getting anything (or enough things) done.
Thus, I have come up with a strategy for wrestling back control of my life from a somewhat arbitrary list of things-to-do, one which never seems to grow smaller than ten lines. I am simplifying my goals and plans into the three most important items from my overall to-do list, items that I can accomplish in a single day. Three seems to be a meaningful, doable number, one that lets me know I am making progress without making me feel like Sisyphus, forever pushing a boulder up a hill. Following this system, I know that at the end of the week, I will have accomplished at least 21 of the most important items on my list, which seems to me to be pretty impressive. Furthermore, I will do these three things before doing any extraneous activities- flipping through magazines, watching TV, and especially shopping, which always derails my most pressing tasks.
Will my strategy work? I’ll update you in a later post on my progress…