Christmas will soon be here and as we get ready to ‘make a list and check it twice’ or thrice or even four times over I came across an interesting post by Kelly Exeter which spoke to how making a list can help us feel less overwhelmed. I not only agree; I’m so happy to know that I, the Queen of Lists, am not alone in this kind of thinking!
So let me get it out in the open: even when it’s not Christmas I love lists, cannot live without them, and sometimes have two or three different ones competing for attention all at the same time. It is so bad that I can do something not on my list, add it to the list, and of course tick it off afterwards – such a satisfying feeling … there’s no other like it.
In the past I used to create To Do Lists mostly for my job but found as I got older (and it got harder to retain tasks to memory) this led me to making extensive notes to take care of my life outside of the office. In addition, I recently realised that it’s best to plan for your entire WEEK (Sunday evenings are usually a good time) rather than day by day. I do have a friend who swears to the value of monthly plans but admittedly that’s even a stretch for me so we’ll start where it’s more realistic.
Steps to Becoming a Master Planner & List Maker
- Sit down and analyse what a normal day looks like in your life. Create a To Do timeline outlining what is to be done, and include an estimate of how long each activity will take to be completed. For example, my outline would show that I meditate, exercise, eating a healthy breakfast, shower and dress before going off to work in the morning. My detailed plans for each activity will fall under these headings initially.
- Plan: Wardrobe. Decide on what you will wear to work (whether you go to an office or work from home). A lot of unnecessary time is wasted wardrobe-gazing when we are not sure beforehand what we will be wearing. Note exactly what you will be wearing on what day and with what accessories.
- Plan: Menu. Decide on what you will cook for breakfast, lunch and dinner, especially if you are watching what you eat aka healthy eating or dieting. It may be better to prepare this list however a week in advance so that you can go grocery shopping to ensure you will have what you need on hand (and to avoid wasting time freezer-gazing and pantry-gazing when you have no clue what you’re going to eat).
- Plan: Meditation. Decide on your mantra and select the verses from the bible you want to focus on each day. You would be surprised how beneficial 10 minutes of deep cleansing breaths can be in starting your day off on the right foot.
- Plan: Exercise/fitness. Decide on your exercise routine i.e. list what exercises you will be doing each day and at what time.
- Plan: Family/friends. Decide on how you will spend time with your family, including where and when. If it’s slotted into your calendar you are less likely to brush it off as being unimportant.
- Plan: Self! Decide how you will secure some ‘me’ time! If you don’t take care of you, you won’t be able to take care of others. Pencil in some space for you even if it’s uninterrupted moments with a good book or creative activity like writing in your journal or blogging.
- Plan: Errands/housework. This list should also be shared with your family and if applicable ‘work’ assignments handed out. We list-makers usually need all of the help we can get!
- Plan: Volunteer/donate. Note how you will give of your time and efforts to charity. Community is important and giving back even more so. If this is too much for you then plan to pay your blessings forward and perform a random act of kindness for someone as often as you can.
- Bonus Plan: Gratitude. At the end of each week, plan to be thankful – and to write down every single thing over the past seven days for which you are grateful.
Does all of this seem like overkill? Maybe, but you would be surprised the amount of time to be saved by simply referring to a note and moving ahead with a plan vs. being undecided and subsequently paralysed into immobility.
But don’t take my word for it. Try becoming a Master Planner for at least one week and see how it goes. A stitch in time saves nine, but an effective list will save you more than nine minutes every day – guaranteed. Trust me; I know.