Being a compulsive list writer has been both a blessing and a curse. I would be lying if I said that I don’t LOVE a good list. It makes me feel on track and secure that I won’t forget anything. It also gives me that little dopamine boost when I manage to tick something off my list, because that’s how I’ve been conditioned. If I complete a task, it means that I’ve done well. The result? DOPAMINE!
However, the deep driver of list making is perfectionism. The lists are there make sure that I don’t forget anything, and if nothing is forgotten, then I must be perfect right? How insane does that sound!
Now, let’s think about the different kinds of lists that we have in our lives, and how they can cause us stress. I’m talking about the “to do” list that is keeping us “busy” (blog post to come on that word in a few weeks) at work. The “to do” list that keeps our homes running efficiently, and our general “life admin” list.
Let’s start with our work list. Some of us take a lot of notes and re-work those notes into lists that need to be done. Some of us use the task helper in outlook, or even write our “to dos” in the sticky notes. Or, if you’re like me, I kind of alternate between all of them depending on what’s going on in my head. However, a few things that I’ve started to do to reduce my list taking are:
- If the task will take 30 minutes + then I block time in my calendar to do it.
- If the task is something that I can complete within 5 minutes, then I will do it straight away.
- For reminders to follow up on topics I use the task helper in outlook.
- For the everything else that is left, it goes in my notebook and is reviewed and prioritized daily.
This way to manage my lists helps me to stay calmer in my work and not become overwhelmed by 30+ things I need to do. It shaves off the small stuff, and gifts time to the big stuff. The rest I fit in based on my day.
Now, let’s move onto our private lives. I think this one can be big one especially if you have a family. Once you’ve finished your 40-hour work week, the list of things to do does not stop. There’s laundry, groceries, beauty appointments, dentists, pick up the kids, pay some bills, visit the city hall, do your taxes, and whatever else you have on your list to do. In my opinion the best way to handle these lists are to identify who they serve. Are you doing your laundry so that you can have fresh clothes for the week? Maybe your favourite pair of pants are in there! You might not like doing laundry, but doing it serves you. Are you cleaning the house because you want to have a safe and hygienic environment to raise your kids, cook for them and play with them? Or because you yourself love to come home to a place where you can truly find a sanctuary? Having a clean house serves you and your family.
Think about who the task serves. It will change your outlook on doing it and help you to shave off anything on your list that does not serve anyone. You must give yourself permission to do the things that only serve. Everything else comes second. And remember, that lists are not carved in stone! You can change the priorities; you can delete and add as it serves you.
To wrap this up I want to share a tool that I use for the lists that I keep, and that is GOOGLE KEEP. In here I have a shared groceries list with my boyfriend, meaning that we can both keep track of what we need and whoever goes shopping has access to it. I have a list on things that I want to learn more about through recommendations with friends, but there is absolutely NO pressure to fulfill this list. It acts more as a reminder when I find myself in the right state to learn something new. I also take notes here of my thoughts for blog posts and things that I want to talk about. But again, there is NO pressure to tick anything off these lists (except perhaps the groceries).
If you have any other tips to share, please write a comment below!
Or let me know if you found this post useful – I’d love to hear from you.