Okay. Here’s the thing about lists.
We write them.
We scratch off the items that we’ve listed.
And then we throw away the list.
When we throw away the list, we throw away
the reminder that the job was once waiting on a to-do list.
We FORGET what we’ve accomplished. We forget about those things that we felt looming over us … that made us restless while we were talking to a child because we knew that “x” needed to be done. We forget about that tedious chore that made us fret before we went to sleep at night. And we beat ourselves up because we look AHEAD at the things that NEED to be done … like …. that doctor’s appointment that we really need to make … or that thing that needs to be returned … or that card that needs to be sent … or that closet that needs to be organized …. or the bath that the dog has needed for a week …. or that pair of pants that the child needs repaired because it’s getting cooler but finding the matching thread is a JOB in itself because the thread box is buried under _____ and the sewing scissors aren’t in the drawer where they belong and ……
and we forget about the things that we HAVE done …. our “victories.”
So, this summer, I decided to take six weeks to whittle away at some of the things that I had been putting off for days, weeks, months or … yes, even years. I started off by writing down seven things that I wanted to accomplish during the first week. Each week, I created the list for that seven day period.
Some of the things on my list might not look like much of an accomplishment – like washing the dog or cat-, but I assure you that each thing on the list is something that I personally dread or have put off … for some reason.
In the past, I have had a tendency to “crash and burn” if I fell short on my “ideal.” Knowing that, I set out with mercy and grace as my intentional friends. The point was to complete each week’s worth of procrastinated jobs. Some days I did two things on the list. Some days I didn’t do any. It wasn’t about doing one thing per day. It was about doing what I could when I could. In the end, I wanted to “average” completing one task per day.
By the time I got to the end of four of the six weeks, I realized this list was probably the most helpful list I had ever made. It became a list of what I HAD finished, not a list of “things to do.” It became a victory list!! It was a Success Journal … not a Mammoth, Looming, Every-Growing, Ever-Morphing To-Do List!
So, I changed the format before I even reached the end of the four weeks and decided to keep it going.
As I pulled up the list (that is saved on my laptop), so I could print it to photograph for this blog post …. I realized that I have not updated it in
….. almost six weeks. So, I filled in a few things that I remember accomplishing … and I still had a huge gap. I thought, “I can’t blog about what a success my list is … if it doesn’t look like a success. Right?” Should I just … sort of … make some … stuff … up????? Nooooooo! And then I thought about my original intention … that grace and mercy would be my friends. This list is a celebration list.
I remembered that every spare moment in the last month has been spent on a ladder in front of my bay window. Re-glazing my window has been an almost every day project and success story in my daily Anti-Procrastination List. I just haven’t written down the details each day. But, I will. Because when I finish, it will be a HUGE celebration. And I’m only talking about finishing ONE full window!
And I know that there are other things that I have completed along the way (like the dinner party Thursday that I put off for a month … and the little gifts that I gave to each friend, as well) that I need to add to my list. I’ll add these, and other tasks that have been completed. I don’t have to “make stuff up” … I’ll just have to look around and record these before I forget them. They are here. They’re just buried in yesterday’s memory. But, I don’t want to completely forget.
I have struggled in the past with that little voice that whispers things like, “you don’t finish anything,” or “look at this mess!!” I know that my Victory List helps me remember that I’m not lazy. I do finish jobs. I accomplish a great deal – in the physical and the spiritual realms. And I don’t want to forget these achievements.
Are you a list maker? What do you do with your lists? In light of my last post on negative-self talk (You are not a loser) wanted to share this list with you. Would KEEPING your list help you? Would transforming your “to do” list into a “done” list …. and thus, creating a Victory Journal, be of help? It has certainly helped me. I now have an ongoing list of accomplishments – no matter how small they may look to others – that reminds me that I get a great deal accomplished. I shouldn’t beat myself up. I do the big stuff (re-glazing windows, painting rooms, organizing under the house), the everyday stuff (meals, laundry, dishes), the important stuff (Bible reading, making and sending cards, violin lessons, blogging) and the insignificant stuff (cleaning the tub, giving the dog a bath, mending). And so that I won’t forget and let that little voice tell me differently, I keep my list.
My Summer Anti-Procrastination List
which has become my
Life Anti-Procrastination List
really makes me happy.
What makes YOU happy this marvelous Monday morn?