Making Lists: Life, one thing at a time

OrchidI have SO many things I want/need to do, if I’m not organized, at the end of the day all there is to show for my busyness is dither, squiggles and chaos… or nothing. Back in the day I was – really, this is true – excellent at multitasking. Once upon a time I could keep several metaphorical balls in the air without dropping a one.

No more

If what I want/need to do isn’t on a “to do” list, carefully hand written on my honest-to-goodness PAPER calendar, it doesn’t get done, or I don’t remember that I did it. Okay, joking (a little) about that last one.

Perhaps it’s a consequence of getting older (and wiser) that I feel the call to keep a diary of daily activities. I mean, think about it, if you can’t recall from one day to the next what you’ve been doing – or need to do – you find yourself sitting around playing Candy Crunch, Gummy Drop, or some other silly and addictive computer game for hours on end. Or am I the only one who does that? I should say used to do that. I’m a reformed computer game addict. Can I have a hallelujah!

Since this is still the first of the year, you might think this is about making a New Year’s resolution to be more organized, but that’s not it at all. I don’t make New Year’s resolutions. If I’m going to be about the business of improving my life, it can start any day of the year. That’s why I’m a List Maker. There is a certain satisfaction at the end of the day when I have ticked off all the items on The List.

A caution here, be wise in how many tasks you line up for yourself on any day. Remember, you really can only do one thing at a time no matter how good you are at multitasking. A lasting lesson from my time as a Mary Kay Consultant was her advice to, “Deal with it, file it, or throw it away.” She was talking about paper clutter and how to keep it to a minimum. You can also apply that to setting priorities (making lists 🙂 ). You declutter your life by prioritizing those tasks and activities you decide are important and meaningful.

In our home, we have a glassed-in patio where our greenery flourishes to the point I practically need a machete to get through it – when I forget to prune. Or I go in after a couple of weeks of forgetting to water, and find the plants gasping and shriveling. Since we rarely use the patio – especially in winter – if I don’t have weekly watering on my list, I forget. The consequence is more work or the death of a plant or two. Pruning doesn’t end up on the list simply because it’s evident when that’s gotten out of hand, but watering is on the list, every Saturday without fail… except when I forget. No, The List is not infallible. It is up to me, that one-thing-at-a-time reality.

OrchidOver the holidays, I missed watering for three weeks. I know, I know, why have The List if you don’t pay attention to it? One plant thrived under my neglect. The orchid. The darned thing loved not being watered to death! Fortunately, I didn’t lose any plants, although for a couple it was iffy for a while.

I note this incident to say, spontaneity and the unexpected are the salt of life. Lists are well and good for prioritizing, but sometimes straying from or forgetting The List leads to something beautiful. You can do only one thing at a time. Leave room in your life for that one thing to be joyful no matter what it is.

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