The Power of the List

Sometimes everything becomes too much doesn’t it? Your mind races, you don’t know what to do when, it overwhelms you and you can’t achieve anything. It happens less these days, but there are still moments when I’m overcome by the things which I should do. However, I’ve learnt that a list can be a friend; writing things down can really help clear the clutter in your mind.

Just putting things to paper is often all that is needed to slow the swirl of thoughts and enable me to have clarity in my thoughts. A list also serves an other purpose. It enables you to celebrate small successes; to be mindful of the little things that you achieve. Ticking off a task, however small, is an uplifting act; putting a smile on your face as you know you’ve succeeded in something. When you’re feeling down, just being able to tell yourself you can achieve is a huge boost. Even if its the washing up!

As my understanding of the power of lists has developed I’ve realised there’s a knack to a good list. You need to separate out tasks into little bits. So instead of bake bread; have separate items for mix, prove, bake, deliver. Each small step completed fosters confidence in yourself and encourages completion of more tasks. Another trick I’ve developed is the addition of items on the list which I know, however bad I may be feeling, I will complete. So, have breakfast appears often on a daily list; and I’ve even been known to write down something which I’ve already done, in order to ensure a tick straight away. Ticks, as I mentioned before, breed confidence and help to get things done.

As a cook and a gardener, lists are also brilliant. We manage our food budget best when we make a shopping list; using what needs to be used up and buying new ingredients to supplement those in the fridge, cupboard and on the allotment. On the plot, with so much to do, the list of jobs on the blackboard in the shed is what keeps things going and helps to ensure that important, but boring jobs, get done when they are needed.

I can’t extol the virtues of the list without touching on the fact that a list has got a dark side; a way of making you feel worse. It’s all well and good ticking off items on a list when you have done them, but what if you don’t complete them? The feeling of having a list; then ending the day with the same list (nothing checked off), or worse still more things on the list, is not necessarily a positive one. It can make you feel down and a failure, but I’ve found the way to cope with this is to make sure the items which go on the list are very specific and achievable. The big, ‘life-changing’, to-dos go on a master list, and get checked off occasionally. The day to day tasks get a list each day; and yes, I do put the occasional task onto the list I have already completed. It’s all about gaining confidence and getting the ticks on the page!

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3 thoughts on “The Power of the List

  1. Simon, I love it. As you know I have always been a great list maker, and even in retirement, I find them incredibly useful. Maybe it’s because the memory isn’t as sharp as it used to be!

  2. I have always made lists . Mostly because I have a butterfly brain and need a bit of organisation in my life. It is so easy for me to get distracted and flit about from job to job. I will eventually return to my list and hopefully get stuck in!
    I tend to have several lists on the go some more important than others.

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