So guys, real talk: I’m a very passionate person. I get stoked on everything from writing, to painting to reading to gardening. I lose it over almost every animal I see and I cry with wonder every time I travel to a city I’ve never been to before. But you know what I really love? To-do lists! Huge nerd? Definitely. Pretty dang organized, though? You bet.
See, when you have a lot of things your passionate about, it gets a little hard to stay on track. Since I was a child, I have always flitted from one project to the next. And more than not, there were so many things I wanted to do that I would get overwhelmed and wind up hardly getting anything done at all. And then I was a full blown adult working two jobs to pay for the house I was renting, my elderly cat’s medical bills, my student loans, and my credit card debt and I was so wildly disorganized that I felt like, if at any moment I pulled the wrong thread, it could all unravel.
And then I started making lists.
I started with a monthly goals list. Then that felt so good that I decided to make one for the day, and the next day too. I put everything on the list. Bills I needed to pay, family members I needed to call, workouts, deadlines, wake-up times. And then I put in some things that were just for me too. Write a poem. Play guitar. Paint. Go to the park.
It might sound a little counterintuitive, but I was adding structure to my life, and in doing so I was creating more time for me. Yoga and meditation were on the same list as work and bills. They were no longer the things I did if I had time. I prioritized. I made time. Every day I was putting my happiness and growth at the top of the list.
Now I make a list for the following day every night, right before I go to bed. It organizes my mind so I don’t stay up, agonizing and stressing about all the things I need to get done. I already have a plan! And then, when I wake up, I can start crossing things off. I have a special book, just for my lists, and I take it everywhere with me. It transformed my life in such a discernible way that my friends and family and boyfriend started doing it too.
A few times, my friends came to me telling me they didn’t understand. How could I be putting so many things on my list? They weren’t getting everything done and they found that they just ended up feeling worse, kicking themselves for not accomplishing everything they had set out to do. And in talking with them, I found the philosophy behind my lists. They are there as a guideline. An organizational tool. A way to encourage yourself and pat yourself on the back for little victories. You don’t have to cross everything off, every single day. You’re not a failure if at day’s end, some things are left without a line through them. You know what it means? That you just have to add them to tomorrow’s list. And you just keep adding them to ‘tomorrow’s list’ until you get it done.
So, if you’re a busy bee with responsibilities up the wazoo, a creative who struggles with structure, or a just a gemini (lol, kidding, but not,) try writing a to-do list for tomorrow. Maybe it won’t work for you like it did for me… but maybe it’ll change your life.