I write them at night and get things off my mind. I can sleep better, knowing my reminder will be there for me in the morning. Sometimes I wake up early and write my list and feel well organized and calm for the day ahead. I have lists on my kitchen counter, in my calendar, in my purse, or in the car, creating them sometimes on a daily basis or for the week. Special days or weeks seem to require more attention to these lists, offering a greater feeling of control and certainty that nothing will be forgotten. Whatever works best, to-do lists can help us feel more organized and keep us focused at home or work—like a roadmap that keeps us on track when we become otherwise interrupted or feeling overwhelmed.
“They cause me more stress than they are worth,” I’ve heard people mention.
That happens to me at times. When I put those big undesirable jobs on my to-do list ~ counting thousands of milk caps, organizing and cleaning my office, or pairing socks. I know these jobs need to get done, but it takes a bit of time. They end up getting carried on to my next weeks’ list, and it makes me sweat! I don’t sleep as well, I feel more edgy and I’m less focused on the present because I’m thinking of that big job I have to get done. Breaking to-do’s into smaller, more achievable steps and limiting the big dreadful jobs that go on the list, can help. Decide what is realistic and what is a priority for that day. Decide what you expect to have both the time and energy to complete and put only those things on your list.
We can manage better what we can see and we can only keep so much information in our heads at one time. Have you ever tried to keep a grocery list in your head? “I don’t need to write it down,” you say. Then you reach the store and you’ve forgotten some of the items? It isn’t uncommon. Our short-term memory is said to hold seven plus or minus two digits of information for a short period of time. Consider your grocery list, or the things you have to do in a day. Likely it is more than five to nine things. Unless you can come up with some kind of memory trick for retaining it all, it will be a challenge. Maybe your list is only eight things, in that case you better hope nothing catches your attention on your way to the store, (a phone call, a note, an event, etc.) or those things may take up that allotted space.
Some people are naturally list makers and gravitate to it more easily. Some don’t like lists, but if you give it a try, there are some great benefits to it and nothing beats the feeling of crossing something off that to-do list! To do: Make a to-do list.