Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Tuesday's Time To ... Write A List!

I love writing lists!  At this time of year, there are quite a few for me to write ... along with the usual ones that I keep in my "Daily Treasures Box" I have lists for birthday plans, lists for autumn menus, lists for Christmas, and lists for goals I want to have reached before the start of next year!   Of course in previous years, we always had lots of homeschool lists too and I think this is why, at this time of year, I get a real impulse to sit down with pen and paper, and make lots of plans!  I like planning - it helps me to stay in control of what's happening, and make best use of my time.

This may sound a bit daunting, and perhaps as if I have my life a bit too organised, but in fact I find that writing lists brings me more freedom and time, than if I didn't have any.  Having lists means that I know exactly what I need to do throughout the day, and how long it is going to take me, and I can work around those commitments to make more free time for myself, than if I stumbled through the day from one chore to another without having any kind or organisation or method to my work. 

The best sort of lists though, are the ones that detail all my future plans and ideas!  They give me goals to aspire to, and can be as ambitious as I want.  I like to start making lists for Christmas at around this time, as it means I can get started on my Christmas gifting nice and early, and therefore spread the cost and expense.  It also means there's no last-minute rush later on.  Lists are great for straightening out in your mind what your priorities are.  Before I write a list of plans for the future I like to pray about it first, so that I can ask God for His guidance and wisdom in making the right plans for me - and for us as a family.  I like to feel that my goals are sensible, that they will benefit all of us, and that they have some purpose other than just being pleasing to me.  For example, as I mention above, I like to have some goals to achieve before the end of the year.  These might include things like - redecorate the hallway, make a new cover for the birdcage, declutter the cupboard under the stairs, start a patchwork quilt.  It helps to break down lists of plans like this into more manageable goals.  Just writing "redecorating the hallway" doesn't give me an idea of what will be needed to bring this plan to life.  I need to divide it into smaller, more easily achieved goals.  So I might write something like ...

By end of September, decide on colour scheme, measure up for paint and border paper, decide on fabric for new door curtain, measure up for fabric.
By end of October, have paint, border paper and curtain fabric bought.
By second week of November, have hallway sanded and 2 coats of paint on walls.
By end of November, have border paper put up.
By middle of December, have new curtain made and lined, and hung at door.

This way, as well as being able to see what needs to be achieved in steps rather than in one large, unmanageable job, I can also readjust my plans as needed.  If Little Bear is around and able to help me, we might get the work finished sooner.  If my arthritis is troubling me and making work painful I may need to reschedule some of my plans and make the goal a longer-reaching one than the end of the year.  It can be more flexible, worked in stages like this, rather than just thinking "I need to redecorate the hallway" and rushing out to buy the materials without really planning it.  Too often we've done that in the past - and the paint has fetched up sitting in the shed outside for months!  Nowadays we like to plan more meticulously.  It actually buys us more time, and helps us to prioritise our goals better.

Sometimes personal goals can seem a bit daunting too.  Often people like to write "New Year Resolution" lists, or personal improvement lists.  They may be intended to motivate us to work harder at getting rid of bad habits and developing new ones, or to improve our relationships with those we love.  They may be designed to make us healthier, or to broaden our skills.  Once again, whether it is in January or July, breaking these lists down makes them much more manageable.  For example, if you hope to lose 2 stone by Christmas, writing this down can seem like an impossible goal to achieve.  It seems too much, too far off, to be a goal anyone could hope to realise.  But breaking it down into smaller, more easily reached goals, means that you have a far greater chance of success.  If your goal is to lose 2 lbs in 2 weeks, you will have a much higher success rate.  You can then re-evaluate after the goal is reached, and perhaps aim for 2 lbs in a week, or 3 lbs in 2 weeks.  Or just keep going steadily.  It's a bit like a savings account.  If your aim is to save £2000 in a year, you may feel as if now, when your savings account is empty, it will never be possible to have that amount of money in it.  But if you steadily put away £200 a month, it will only take you 10 months to reach that goal!  Somehow it seems much easier to save £200 in one month, than £2000 in one year.  Of course, it still takes willpower and focus to do this, but if your ultimate goal is more manageable, you have a greater chance of sticking to it.

Lists also make a great way to keep records and look back, a bit like a diary or journal.  I love seeing shopping lists that were written in times gone past.  Not just the prices of everything, but the sort of things people were buying!  It's a piece of social history that means far more than a text book.  Why not keep a scrap book of your favourite lists - wedding lists, baby shower lists, new home lists, holiday destinations - in fact, the LIST is endless!  I really enjoy organising my day with a list.  Even if I don't manage to get everything on my list done, there is still a great sense of achievement and satisfaction in being able to put a tick beside all the things I did do - and know that I am still getting through more than I would if I just left it all to chance.  And sometimes, I also realise that things I thought were "must-do"s, don't really matter all that much at all.  It gives me a sense of what's really important, and helps me to stay calm and organised!

Now, I'm off to add a few things to my shopping list for this weekend!

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