My Love Hate Relationship With Lists

I have a love/hate relationship with lists. In one sense I love being able to cross completed items off my list. It gives me a sense of satisfaction. On the other hand, I never seem to be able to get through a list, leaving me with a sense of dissatisfaction.

In her book Full Cup, Thirsty Spirit, Karen Horneffer-Ginter talks about her puzzlement watching people in Bali move without rushing. She says,

I had never seen people engage in daily tasks without a sense of needing to get on to the next thing.

Therein lies my list conundrum. It is a fact that I have all these things to do. By writing them down, I do not forget to do them. However, having written them down, while working on one item I am very aware of what I need to get on to next.

It becomes a race to complete one task so that I can start the next task. The problem is, the finish line is a moving target.

So, I put it out to you.

How do you keep track of what you need to do, without getting frantically caught up in what you need to do?

Suggestions and advice please!

Book Recommendation

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  1. Julie Riddle says:

    I guess I do as you do, Eliza, always adding, never finishing. Except I consider the list a living thing, too.

    Okay, I just turned around to take a look at my own. It looks like this: a short stack of papers. A catalog folded open to the page showing an item I want to order when the finances are right. A slip of paper with movies we want to order on Netflix, when they become available. A typewritten list made some time ago (some things are scratched through). Shipping confirmations for Christmas gifts that have already arrived (saved for follow-up, now tossed away). A phone number on another slip of paper, just in case an order I cancelled hasn't actually been cancelled. There's more…

    What strikes me is how comfortable I've become with this tiny pile of clutter. (I hate clutter. It fries my brain.) But instead of the frazzle I always felt with adding to and scratching off a traditional list and seeing it never ending, always calling… I now feel calm. My little pile of images (it's not a list) is more friendly; it's alive, continually moving. I revisit it and shuffle bits around, putting the most doable or needed item on top, rearranging as priorities shift. What I'm learning — just now, by sharing here (wow!) — is that my life is in constant motion and so my list is, too. When I allow my should's and to-do's to flow in tandem with what's happening off-pile, there's no tension. There's only a complementary circling about. What exists, really, is a smooth dance.

    PS: I love your admission: "walk by the pile of laundry" :) I actually DO put the laundry piles out so I DO walk by them, and then they get done. That, somehow, does *not* work with all the things I line up on my kitchen island, waiting their turn for my attention. Now why is that?


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