27 July 2009

To Do, Or Not To Do?

I was going to write you a list of all the things I need to do today to restart my brain and focus on one thing at a time, but instead ... this post developed out of thin air. Hurrah for that! Enjoy!

I am a list maker at heart. A serious list maker who cannot accomplish anything really unless she has a list of all the other things she needs to do. I don't like to have to keep thinking about things that need finishing. I would rather write them down and let my brain release the space their throbbing reminder was taking up. Every night before bed, I add to the list. I don't necessarily get everything done (often times not even close ... sometimes, nothing), but at least my brain can stand down from "Do Not Ever Forget One Single Thing" mode. List making also keeps my day simpler. I don't have to multi-task as much, because I don't sporadically "remember" something in the middle of doing something else, then distract my energies to doing both half way. I just write it down.

There are a number of lists floating around, as you can imagine. I have a traditional 'to do' list, which I call my Taaa Daaaa (!) list. I really do say it like a cheap Reno magician every time too. On that list I keep the things that randomly need to be accomplished:

[] Pit cherries for dehydrator
[] Put movie in mailbox
[] Finish packing up basement boxes
[] Etc.

There's also a housecleaning list. It is a standardized format and I use it every time we clean the house (or a portion therein). There are two versions: one for the weekly rotation of what gets cleaned when and one for absolute crisis mode (like Be's propensity for inviting his adorable perfectionist grandmother over for dinner on 2 hours notice after I've worked a 60 hour week and let them trash the house in the interim ... pure crisis). I've modified them over the years from the FlyLady system. I don't know that it shares any resemblance to the original anymore, other than the division into four distinct 'Zones'. It kind of looks like:

[] Start at the top of the room and work down
[] Knock down cobwebs in corners
[] Dust light fixtures
[] Etc.

Of course we also have grocery lists, which I insist on writing by hand. We don't buy the same things repetitively enough to warrant a reusable format. I tried one for awhile, even customized to what I thought we needed, but it just felt like a big ole waste of paper every time. My grocery lists are deal-oriented. They include the sale items we are for sure stocking up on, sales items that I need to check prices and units for with the intention of making a split second in-store decision, and items that aren't on sale but we (read: my ever hungry family) think we need. The items in that last category are often overlooked and "forgotten" (oooooops, how very clumsy of me to forget your $3/package corn syrup laden cookies ... for shame). Be says the grocery lists are indecipherable because of the chicken scratch and hieroglyphs of stockpile shopping. They look a little something like ...

[] Duncan Hines Cake Mix: $1 - 1/2 MQ - 1/5 cake MBQ = 40c/ea - B5/ea = $4 total
[] Hunt's Ketchup: $1 - 20c/1 MG - 1/5 MBQ = 72c/
[] Wheat Thins + ^cheese = $8 - 1/2 cheese - 1/1 wt = 5 + CL cat
[] Etc.

There's one final list I keep, called the Someday List. It's large, long, and slightly unwieldy. It's the singular place where I write all of my ideas for future projects, home improvements, system changes, blog posts, and on and on. Every so often I go through and nix the things I have finished or no longer want to do. The list is kind of big, but it works beautifully as a brain dump for ideas I have without cluttering up my regular to do list with things that I can't get to, afford, plan, think about every day, for a longer period than this week. It changes constantly, this Someday List, but I like it a lot (more than the other lists for sure). It's a bright little reminder of the long term:

[] Marble magnets
[] Try hand at herbal soap making
[] Urban chickens!
[] Etc.

One last note on lists from me, and then I'm off to tackle today's Taa Daa. There are tons of places that will keep track of lists for you online. I've tried ... most of them, well, the free ones at least. I hear there are others, but I refuse to pay for them. Writing the list is a great step, but if you lose it the next day, what good is it then? All those things your brain let go of once they hit the list are gone if the list disappears. To remedy that I find the following solutions:

For the internet saavy ...
[] Springpad
[] Google Calendar

For the not so willing to always find a computer to check their lists ...

You can type your lists if you like, then print them. I'm not the biggest fan of this, though, because the sheets wander off continuously. I do have printed copies of the housecleaning to do lists, which are kept in a binder so that my family can find them (if they were ever to look for them, that is ...). For all the other lists, though, I use a plain jane spiral bound single subject notebook. I buy a veritable ton of them for next to nothing during back-to-school sales, and they live in a stack in my office closet. I start with page one, make a list, use the back, make a new list, and on and on until all the pages are full. This takes quite awhile, usually. I use reuseable post-its to mark the current Taaa Daaa, grocery, and Someday lists so they don't get lost in the pages. Everything is in that one notebook until it runs out, then I pull out a new one and start again. I absolutely looooooove this process. I don't lose lists anymore, nor do I clutter up my dayplanner with giant running lists of things my brain cannot stop thinking about. This is how I keep it simple.

Oh, lists, how I adore thee.

Are you a list maker? Join in the comments and tell me all about it!



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