Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Lists of things to be done

I never considered myself much of a list person. I never considered myself a person with a life that's too full, either. I try to take care not to cram it with too much because whenever I do I get easily overwhelmed. But sometimes I wake up with a feeling that there's a surprising lot to be done for a person who just wants to live a simple life homeschooling her family and doing a bit of writing. And it all seems to be urgent. So I started writing it all down on a list to keep track of it. And I discovered to my astonishment that these urgencies are most often quite little things.

Here are some examples.
Buy birthday cards for Andrew's sisters
Answer 3 emails
Remind Emma to write a thank-you note for a bracelet she was given
Tell Andrew we need to renew an account
Pick up Logan's new epipen from the chemist
Organise for carpets to be cleaned before rental inspection
Buy a few groceries
Clean through cupboards
Get car oil changed
Plan a couple of Sunday School classes

I know we all get the idea. I was stressed but I was surprised to notice that I was stressed chiefly with little things. Although they are all little things they quickly multiply if I just leave them whirling through my head. I could make it into a sum. Little thing + little thing + little thing + little thing etc = stress. I'd been inclined to wake up in the morning thinking, 'I've got so much to do.' But they can't all fit into one day. So I started jotting down everything on a master list that I've called WTDTW (What to do this week). Then I itemise each one into WTDT (What to do Today). I try to make sure to include a few boring nasties to spread them out evenly. And I have to say, it has been helping. I've been ticking them off as I go through them and feeling as if I've been getting everything done with not so much running around.

Here's a prime example. I had to visit the local High School to enrol Logan on their books as a homeschooler. It's something our state requires us to do, just to keep track of all school aged students. Logan and his sister have been enrolled on the Primary School roll book as homeschoolers, but the Primary School have notified us that they'll be removing him this year as he's now a highschooler. If they hadn't reminded me I probably wouldn't have given it a thought. So we had to chase up all the people at the High School and fill out a lot of red tape and rub shoulders with all the big, loud senior students in the corridors on our way to the office. That's a perfect example of something that takes time from your day, isn't a pleasant task but really needs to be done. Just a one-off sort of thing, but one-offs keep coming up. (I'll have to go and enrol Blake at the Primary School as a home-schooler next year.) And if I hadn't started my list system and had it there in black-&-white staring at me, I'm sure I wouldn't have got around to it yet. So something as simple as jotting things down is working for me.


  1. It does help to write things down. Provided you don't lose the list. That would be me. Our biggest problem with thank you cards is that I always lose the envelopes and mail them 2 months late. It's the thought, right?

    By the way, I think oil change and buy groceries needs to be moved to the top of the list.

    Peace and Laughter!

  2. I'm a list maker - big time. Only I make little lists that sometimes get lost. Sigh. But it's SUCH a good feeling to put a line through something I accomplished (just checking it off isn't enough - I want there to be no doubt that I've finished a task!) And yes, it's true, most of what I do turns out to be little tasks. They do add up, don't they? I'm also a big procrastinator. Another sigh. Sometimes an item on my list goes onto the next list and so on ... That equals stress to me! Maybe I think that if it goes onto enought lists, it will disappear all on its own!

    Boy, if I had to walk down the halls of our local high school, it would make me cringe! I'm so glad you homeschool your precious children.

    By the way, I loved your comment on my HSB post! The irony of it all!

    Enjoy the remainder of your week -

  3. I can't survive without lists. Right now I have the mommy list and all the little baby lists for some of the things on the mommy list that need more specifics.

    By the way, that book about your grandpa sounds like it would be great! What a great lesson for homeschool history!