Ticking off the To Do list

My love of list making and planning goes into overdrive at the start of a new year. I’ve got notebooks full of lists for the next five years, lists for jobs to do in each room of the house, lists of sewing, crafting and of books to read. One year I even got into bullet journaling and made lists of lists. I’m also a big fan of New Year resolutions.

For Christmas I got two beautiful Fenella Smith notebooks to add to my collection and before I start filling them up I decided to think about why I make ‘to do’ lists and how they make me feel.

One weekend late last year I did what I do every weekend. I woke up early, full of energy (I’ve become a morning person as I’ve got older, my teenage self would be amazed) and thought about what I wanted achieve that day.

As well as the notebooks full of to do lists I have a shared iPhone note for me and Matthew and a rolling iPhone note for myself. All these lists are far too much to do in one go. So I made a quick list in my head for that day.

I hadn’t sewn anything for ages so I intended to, at the very least, stick together a sewing pattern pdf and cut out the fabric for a dress. There was the usual weekend housework to do: clean the bathroom, run the hoover round etc and I wanted to allow myself a couple of hours one afternoon watching one of the many films on my ‘to watch’ list. Or the next episode of Gossip Girl (I know, I came to it late). There’s a painting I wanted to do and the spare room/sewing room/room of doom was a disaster needing solving. But then Matthew was at home because his work was rained off and so we ended up doing a different set of jobs.

We moved furniture in our bedroom to create a new shelving area; we cleared, took down, relocated, put up and refilled our String shelving in the living room and we went to Ikea for a new set of drawers and shelves for the room of doom.

By Sunday afternoon I was exhausted but dissatisfied. Ikea didn’t have the shelves I wanted and without them I couldn’t clear my sewing table to start the project. I had worked nearly all weekend but I hadn’t achieved anything on my list. Too tired to do anything else and unable to agree on a film we spent the afternoon on the sofa on our separate computers and phones, me browsing Instagram and feeling increasingly fed up about my lack of creative output over the weekend. Luckily a WhatsApp moan to some excellent friends put things in perspective. I had achieved loads, I was being creative because I was making the flat look better and I shouldn’t feel like an afternoon on the sofa lost in Instagram was wasted because it’s all allowing the creative juices to reset and refuel.

I realised that to do lists are great but can leave you feeling like you haven’t achieved anything if you get side-tracked and do something that wasn’t on it. So I advise adding the task on the bottom and ticking it off, even if it was just browsing the internet. Allow yourself to celebrate what you have done and not what you haven’t.

As we begin 2019 I’m making some new rules (or a list of rules, if you will) about how to approach task list making. I’ll be sharing these with you all soon.

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