I am a list maker! I make shopping lists, to do lists, invitations lists, gift lifts and bucket lists.. They often give me a sense of control and comfort for when I write something into a list I free my mind from having to remember it right then and there. The task lives on paper instead of my head.
But we write lists for things we have yet to do. So inherently they highlight that which is not yet complete or accomplished. So while I enjoy the release of placing a task on paper instead of carrying it in my head, I also often find myself feeling disheartened when the list doesn’t get entirely crossed off within a day. Because I tend to gauge my sense of efficacy and accomplishment by the number of cross offs, my lists often times also bring about disappointment and defeatism. I mistakenly measure the items remaining instead of the tasks accomplished. I evaluate my day's work based on whether or not i got rid of the list.
Using lists to remember responsibilities and organize and prioritize tasks or goals is a highly useful tool. But there are some techniques that build on their positive outcomes and reduce the negative ones.
Include in your lists a sense of date priority as well as importance priority that considers what can reasonably be done by when. One simply can’t work an 8 hour shift, get to the grocery store, dry cleaner, dentist, and offer homework support and a home cooked meal in one day- or at least one shouldn’t have to! But we all know that a to-do list could easily have all that on it!
When the list isn’t a shopping or invitation list but task or goal oriented one …. Make your list in one column and leave a parallel empty one to its right. Then when you cross off something on your list, also write the task completed or accomplishment on the right side. Then when you review, you aren’t highlighting what you haven’t done,but rather what you have done!
Acknowledging what you have done has so much more power- it recognizes effort and achievements and thus motivates you to persevere.