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Making All the Lists

by Kate McDevitt about a year ago in advice
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Groceries, schedules, goals, and mindfulness

Making All the Lists
Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

I’m just 1 person making lists. Lots and lots of lists. My bullet journal is packed full of lists, but they’re also in the time management program I use (Habitica), on the whiteboard by my desk, and on sticky notes or pieces of scrap paper.

I make lists of things to do each day, things I did each day, items to buy at the grocery store, chores that need to be done, and blog posts or stories I want to write. I list how much I’ve slept and how much I’ve worked out. I have lists of books I’ve read, books I own but haven’t read yet, and even books I’ve heard about and one day want to read. I have lists of TV shows, movies, RPG series and one-shot episodes, google Earth locations, and so many more.

When I get overwhelmed with life, my go-to is to make a list. I write down everything I need to do or process, breaking it down into smaller pieces whenever possible and comfortable for me to do so. Usually the very act of physically writing something down one step at a time is enough to calm me down a little and set me on the right path again. I’m able to focus on one task at a time, rather than trying to keep it all in my head at once and worrying that there might be something I’m forgetting about.

Sometimes, breaking tasks down into smaller tasks can be helpful, but other times it just makes my lists look longer and even more overwhelming. So it’s good when I learn the right size and types of list that work for me in my current mindset.

When I get emotional, my coping mechanism is logic, so I end up making numbered lists to process what’s happening. Breaking down choices into lists of pros and cons is useful. Looking at a list of items that I’ve been putting off for a long time can make me feel guilty, but it can also feel amazing (dare I say empowering?) when I get to check something off that list.

I have a bucket list of goals I want to accomplish, but I more often consult my 101 Things in 1001 Days list. Also called the Day Zero Project, it’s a list of 1001 things I want to do in all walks of my life, from saving more money to cleaning my house to watching movies I own but still have never seen. I enjoy having to do lists, and my 101 Things list is my go-to list for whenever I have spare time and want to fill it by feeling productive working toward a larger goal I set for myself. It’s sort of a backup list so I’ll never get bored.

Every so often, I’ll make a different sort of list. I’ll do some journaling with a self-care prompt. Apart from it being a useful exercise in the moment, the physical lists act as resources I can look back at later when I’m struggling. Here is an especially meta list of lists I’ve found useful to write lately:

  • Beautiful things that made me smile today
  • What I’m grateful for
  • Things that have inspired me
  • What I’m really good at
  • Songs that always make me feel good
  • Things from which I want to free myself
  • New things I want to bring into my life/heart
  • Things I do that make me feel energized or drained (so I can find a balance)

Often, it feels like my life is just one big list, and there isn’t enough time to get it all done before I die. That’s when I step back and remember that as useful as it is to make lists, it’s also just as useful to revisit and reevaluate those lists from time to time.

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About the author

Kate McDevitt

Just like the creations I build out of LEGO bricks or the stories I create on the page, I am constantly working on building a life and figuring out how to adult. I'm Just 1 Person Blog: http://imjust1person.com

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