Amidst a turbulent year, one of the actionable steps I took to keep my feet planted was making lots and lots of lists. Although it may seem trivial, there is something to be said for staying organized by way of achieving small, even minute tasks, taking pressure off of keeping all of the balls in the air.
There also seems to be a pattern in my list building: accumulating more small successes ultimately position me to achieving my bigger, more abstract goals.
In fact, making lists actually helps with short-term memory. Not only does list making keep track of all of the tasks at hand, but it reinforces all of the information stacked in your brain so you are less likely to forget. This gives you space to let go of all that you have to keep track of, allowing you to relax into the work.
In short, the more you put down, the more you retain.
Another key component to my list building is the act of handwriting, said to increase retention. Making a million running lists on your phone or computer, though important in the short-term for making sure you don’t lose your train of thought, does not have the mind to hand connection. The more you hand write your lists, the more you are invested in your tasks and their importance.
Now, these do not have to be grandiose lists. Think, start small — Mail letter, clean kitchen, tell Lucia to find her tutu, take out trash — then move into bigger tasks that you can divide into two days or three or four, such as start blog post, edit blog post, post blog post.
There is something really satisfying about checking off the baby goals, the completion of tasks propelling you to finish the bigger, more pressing tasks. These are the stepping stones to achieve a greater outcome.
And just a tip: The more enjoyable and aesthetically pleasing the list, the less arduous it will feel and the more enjoyment you can get out of decluttering your daily needs. Perhaps get a moleskin (my journal of choice) and use your favorite pen.
List making can be as meditative as it is useful. Whether you make one for the day or for the week, keep it simple.
What can you do today to make a better list?