I Hate Lists
by Kathy Gates
List making comes naturally to me. I learned how to spell writing out
grocery lists for my mom. She would walk around the kitchen checking to
see what we were low on and call out things for me to write on the list.
My job was to spell it out as I wrote it, or she would have me sound it out,
correcting when necessary. I not only learned how to spell, but the value
of that list as well.
But I know a lot of people balk at lists. It makes them feel too rigid,
too focused. They want to be creative, flexible, spontaneous. Or as
one client said, "I hate lists. Lists just show me how far behind I really
am. I don't want to be reminded."
Another client says, "Lists don't work. I make a list, but then none of it
gets done." Oh, so it's the lazy list's fault? I see.
And I'll agree - all valid points. But the Real Life bottom line is that
list-users tend to be much more efficient than list-avoiders. And because
they are more efficient with what they need to do, they therefore have much more
guilt-free time to do what they really want to do.
And isn't that *really* the bottom line? Here's some tips to help you make
lists work for you:
First and foremost, make sure you have a clear goal for the list. I know
it sounds odd, but it's one of the most important things you can do. It's
essential to tie it into your motivation; otherwise, as my client indicated
above, you may just write it then forget it. Decide -"What's the point of
it? What do I want the item or list help me do?"
Think of this *specifically*, not just "be more organized". The list might
help you stop being embarrassed at your son's soccer game because you were in
charge of drinks. It might stop those late fees on the video rentals you
hate so much. Make it personal.
Normally, you'll want to keep the keep the list specific - grocery items,
weekend projects, or errands to run. If you prefer a Priority Daily List,
try dividing a piece of paper into 4 quadrants. Label each one - to buy,
to call, to finish, to mail -- whatever fits your lifestyle.
Be sure that there's a clear reason that an item is on the list at all. Is
it's really your job to deal with it? Can/should it be delegated to
someone else? Is it important to be done at all? Is there a way to
combine it with something else to simplify it?
Get creative with your lists. One client of mine hung a giant chalk board
in her laundry room near the back door. She divided it into 4 quadrants.
To Call, To Do, To Buy, To Go. She used different colors for each
quadrant, drew happy or irritated faces, all kinds of things. It was her
creative response to a dull task.
You might use different colored papers for different lists, or different colors
for work vs. home. Or use "Top 10" to have some fun with it - Top 10
Errands to Run Before Saturday. Top 10 Things To Do In February.
Probably most important of all is that you link your daily/weekly lists to your
calendar/schedule. A list without a date/time link, is like a fish out of
water, or a car without fuel. It just doesn't work. The lists must
fit into the way you live your life, and that is inextricably linked with your
Directed lists can be a simple, yet powerful tool in your daily happiness.
Real Life Coach - where self improvement meets self acceptance.
Life Coach Kathy Gates specializes in focus and motivation, helping you maximize
what you already have and focus on a clear path. Want to know how?
http://www.reallifecoach.com to learn more about how Life Coaching can help