By Jael Strong
Everything day, all day long, it is the same thing, a series of lists to carry this household from accomplishment to accomplishment. Every night, I sit down with my calendar and create a list of five to ten items I want to check off by the end of the next day. For Jackson, the routine is similar. I create a string of lists to carry him through the day. His attention span is shorter so I put five items on a list, let him choose the order of the tasks, and then he comes back for another list once the first list is completed. While we do not realize every goal, we do finish enough to feel satisfied at the end of the day.
As the one who delegates the tasks, I have to understand that neither I nor Jackson will be able to do everything on the lists. I also have to come to terms with the fact that just because I believe something is important enough to go on the first list does not mean that Jackson will want to do everything without arguing. It is amazing how a list consisting of mostly outdoor chores can be finished in less than an hour while a list of academic exercises may take the better part of the day, sometimes pouring over into after dinner time. Experiences like this have taught me a thing or two about how to construct those lovely little lists so as to get the most out of my perfectly capable but not always willing child.
The key to success
If you want to achieve any goal, you have to have a game plan, a map to get you to where you need to be, and lists are the only way to do this. In the business world, well thought out lists are the key to success just as they contribute to the success of a well-functioning household. Don’t try to aim for a goal without first sitting down with a pen and paper and constructing a plan of attack. Don’t assume that those who work for you or alongside you have the same objectives as you. Here are some guidelines to constructing a functional to-do list:
- Keep it manageable. You don’t want to become overwhelmed by an impossible list of tasks. Though we are not children, we don’t want to be bombarded by an endless sequence of tedious chores any more than they do. Choose a number that suits you personally. Set any extras aside for another day.
- Mix in some fun. As mentioned earlier, Jackson will finish yard work much faster than academic work. I use this to my advantage by mixing assignments that he enjoys doing with ones that he finds more challenging. He works faster just for the possibility of getting to one of his more enjoyable jobs. This can be applied to adults as well. Don’t let your list consist of only things you dread. Mix in the things that you look forward to also and you will work faster.
- Choose the right order. It may seem logical to put things in an order of importance, but psychologically this may sabotage us. Number your list in the order that you will approach them. Think about the shape of the day. What do you want to start with? What enjoyable task can you put right after an uninviting one? What can wait for the next day and can therefore be placed lower on the list?
- Check it off! There is no better feeling than when you can say that something is finished. It won’t happen all of the time, so take pleasure when you can scratch something off. Look at your list at the end of the day. Don’t focus on what you couldn’t get done. Focus on all of those check marks!
Personally, I don’t know how I would finish anything if I didn’t make a list first. In fact, I have, not one list, but many lists. I have a daily list, a morning list, a work list, a home schooling list, an exercise list, and a relaxation list! Too many lists? I don’t think so. After all, lists are the engine that keeps me chugging away on the road to achievement and every time I check something off, I feel a step closer to my ultimate goals.