Living and Dying by Lists

The following post is from one of our favorite bloggers, Teacher Mom.

Most people think I’m very organized. I think I am organized at work and at home, but deep down in my heart, sometimes I don’t feel organized. Sometimes I feel like the list is leading me right over the cliff! It is quite the quandary.

Organization is a life skill that I have acquired over 50-some years of living. A few people have guided me. My parents, for example, were both list-makers. I remember seeing lists on the kitchen table in both their handwriting, and noted the items crossed-off as almost a mark of pride for them in daily life. For me, the lists became essential when I entered the realm of parenting, because it was then I truly had to juggle two worlds – home and work. The lists of “must-do” and “gotta-get-done” were endless. I have used a range of tools to make and keep my lists handy – from scrap paper on the counter, to a special notebook, a calendar page, and now to my I-phone notes application. I, too, take great pride in the accomplishment of tasks on my list, and crossing off items provides a simple “high” for me on any day.

Sounds like a successful and productive habit, right? Yes…..and no! Here’s the catch: my lists, once created, tend to float, dance, or race around my brain. I always keep a list of things to do – never lived a day in my adulthood without one. And sometimes the ominous list haunts me; it makes me feel like I’m never caught up, always struggling to get more done in one day. It has been wisely suggested to me that I check my lists, add to them, subtract from them, only a couple times a day. And in between, I should go about my life and work without checking in on them. Leave the lists alone with the tasks. They will be there with all the important ideas whenever I need to check in on my productivity status, or be reminded of what I should do next. Balance…..here comes that flashing lightbulb again. Make the list, check in with it, but don’t hyperventilate and let it overwhelm me. There is always tomorrow to get more done.

Today I need to be both productive and peaceful. It always begins with a deep breath.

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