Has anyone else ever gone to the store and realized you left your list on the fridge, but think you remember what you need, only to return home and find out that you bought everything except the one thing on your list that you really needed? That one thing is usually something like, say, toilet paper? Please tell me I am not alone here.
I rely on my lists. My obsession with lists almost matches my obsession with research. Sticky notes are my best friends! I was so excited to find that I could have post its on my desktop so now my home screen looks like a patch work quilt of reminders.
When I worked on my rough draft of THE LAST CHERRY BLOSSOM, and as I work on what I am writing now, I make to do lists from my character’s point of view. What would be the character’s top five things to get done in a day? It helps me to flesh out their personalities.
I have always made lists, but making a list took on greater meaning to me shortly after my RSD diagnosis. I struggled to accept that pain now intruded on every hour of my day. I had to give up the career I worked so hard to obtain and worse- I could not be the active, involved mom or wife I once was. I sank into a depression.
During this time, my doctor suggested that I make a list of things I wanted or needed to do each day. I would get to check the item off with a feeling of accomplishment. Focus on what I could still do and not what I lost. Easier said than done, but I am a people pleaser (you had to see that coming didn’t you?), so I started on my list:
– wake up ( I might as well be sure there is always one thing I can accomplish immediately…and if I don’t get to check it off-it won’t matter anymore anyway…)
– get my daughter ready for school (remember she was 4 at the time)
– make a grocery list (yes, I wanted to remember to make another list…)
– iron (who created a school’s jumper with so many darn pleats anyway?)
The list went on with several more items. As you can imagine, there was no way I could accomplish over 20 items(yes 20) that I put on that list and the anxiety it caused only made my pain worse. I failed at making a list-where does one go after that??
A very good friend suggested I limit the list to 5 things—genius! But her best advice– I needed to realize that the listed items would not define me as a good person/mom/wife/daughter. If I couldn’t get to all five, just move it to the next day. This Type A personality had a tough time accepting this sudden shift in my life that RSD delivered.
However, after spending much time praying for strength, I wrote my new list:
– wake up (Easy and still my best way to start the list)
– spend time with my family
– iron (or throw in dryer with wet towel and remove immediately)
– rest (another easy one, I had no choice)
That first year I had to accept my life had changed. I also found out that I hated change more than I thought I did(and I thought I hated it a lot). I have good pain days where I can push through most of it and manage to do an additional couple items not on that list. There continue to be bad pain days when wake up is the only item checked off on my list.
To do lists are necessary for most of us over the age of say 9, but we have to resist the urge to focus only on the tasks to get done. If we make ourselves so stressed about the tasks ahead, we might forget to enjoy the day we are Blessed with before the To-Do list even gets started. We can always shift a task to another day. Oddly enough my task of ironing still gets placed on the list for the next day, then the next day……
What are your top 5 items on a To-Do list? Please share below.