One of the strange contradictions about my personality is that while I absolutely love unstructured, unscheduled time — and need it to rest and recharge — I can easily get lost and depressed with too much of it. I figured out a few years back that if I make a to-do list for myself for weekends or other stretches of free time it helps keep me focused, without taking away the sense of independence and freedom that I love.
So here are my own general guidelines to list making. Your mileage may vary.
1) Make little boxes next to the items. Making check marks is even more fun when you have little boxes to make them in.
2) Include one or two items of house cleaning on the list. I realized that doing a little cleaning every day is really good for my peace of mind. My environment is important to me, and I can sit down and pray or write or draw much more happily if the room I’m sitting in is neat and clean. I also took up yoga this year, and there’s nothing like lying on a mat on your living room floor to bring the multiple dust bunnies to your attention.
3) Include the creative things you want to do. My free-spirited, artistic brain wants hours to have deep thoughts, write, draw, get lost in books, dance outdoors in swirly skirts, etc. But left to its own devices it will most often end up scrolling through Facebook and watching Ugly Betty reruns for those hours, then go to bed unhappy. But if I put “write something” or “draw something” or “read for awhile” on my to do list, I am more likely to spend time actually doing those things.
4) Break things down into little parts so you can make lots of check marks. On the list above, instead of just writing “sweep and vacuum” I broke it down into rooms and tasks. Look at all the checks I got to make when I was done!
5) Include the small things. As previously mentioned, the more check marks the more accomplished you feel. And, to be honest, showering sometimes does feel like quite the task — I deserve a check mark for getting it done!
6) Absolutely write down the things you have already done! Sometimes I don’t get around to writing the list for a while, so I have already done quite a few things. Check, check, and check!
And now that I’ve written this post, I can check off “write in journal or somewhere” on my list, and enjoy some of the iced tea I made yesterday. Cheers!