Lists Serve

My next big personal project is to get better at lists.

  • To Do lists
  • Completed lists
  • Goals
  • Groceries
  • Skills
  • Accomplishments
  • Dreams
  • Books (hmmm…..currently using Goodreads for this, maybe I can check this one off my list)
  • Document inventories
  • Projects
  • Subscription emails to cancel
  • Subscription emails to join
  • Bills
  • Cleaning
  • Repairs / maintenance
  • Routines / schedules
  • Meal planning
  • Gift ideas / needs
  • Appointments to make
  • New things to learn
  • Spring cleaning / winterization
  • (this list could go on…..sure, this one I can tackle right away!)

I try to be organized. I have more pen and marker colors than the office supply store. I have baskets and file folders and special clips to keep me on track. But I do not have a functional system in place. My biggest downfall is my aversion to lists. My perfectionist soul balks against lists because I know they can never be complete or inclusive. Something will always be left off. And if it’s not correct, why do it at all, right?? Ugh!

I have a wonderful Passion Planner that I use to schedule my days. It is my one source of calm in the midst of the chaos of life. There is a special place on each weekly layout to add lists for work and for personal use. There are endless blank pages for lists in the back of the planner. I have no less than three list-making apps installed on my phone. And yet…I still don’t do it. I just can’t get the hang of using lists. How I’m I this inept?!

I’ve read The Checklist Manifesto hoping it would help me use lists effectively and efficiently. I put my new learning to work and started building lists. Then it was 3 weeks later and I was back to my old, non-documented ways. I downloaded project management software for work to help me keep my days on track and my projects moving forward. It’s wonderful! Except for all the days I don’t even remember to open it and then spend half of the next three trying to remember all the follow up I’ve done so I can record my progress. I need to get a handle on this for both my personal and my work life. Is there a 12-step program for lists somewhere?! Wait….the 12 steps ARE a list!!

It these days of bullet journals and gratitude lists and bucket lists I feel out of step. In these years leading up to my retirement I feel poorly prepared. Why are lists so difficult for me? Just write things down! Write things down after you have them done if you have to! This is not an advanced concept! And, yet, its execution still escapes me.

The end of another (very trying) year is upon us. This is the traditional time to take stock and propose changes. I’ve never been one for new year’s resolutions, but a plan for life improvement is something I can get behind. Next year will be my year of lists. I probably should make a list of the steps I need to take to get better at lists……ugh! Do you see why this has always failed for me?!

For this to work I need to step outside my comfort zone (ever notice that’s where all the good stuff starts?). It is not the mechanics of the list that cause the problems for me. It is my fear of being wrong. I have tried so hard for so long to follow the rules that when I am left to make my own rules I am still looking to check my work against the right answers that must be out there somewhere. There are no ‘right’ answers for personal lists. It has to be my words in an order that makes sense for my life. The toughest part will be knowing that my lists will be incomplete and learning to be okay with that. This will be my place of growth.

I begin today.

Lists are appropriate and useful and purposeful even when they are:

  • Incomplete
  • Re-written 3 times
  • Crowded with after thoughts
  • A bit out of order
  • Too specific
  • Unfinished

This process will be messy and filled with tears. Yes, I will cry over making lists. This will be neither a new nor unique situation. I am not good at this. And I am really not good at not being good enough. Perhaps in the end I still won’t be good at lists, but maybe I’ll be a little bit better at me.

Step 1….

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