You hear it on the radio, or in the backseat, or over the loudspeaker at the store. “He’s making a list, checking it twice…” He of course is Santa. But he’s not the only one making lists this year. I am too. And to-do lists are saving my sanity, though my husband might argue that it isn’t there to save.
My list does not care who is naughty or nice. It is all about what needs to be done. The holidays are full of to-do’s. Most of them have a timeline. Some of them have a price tag. Without writing them down, something is sure to be forgotten. Even when writing my to-do lists down, I’m sure there are more things that I will either handle as they come up or they will pass by and just not get done. And that will have to be okay.
I make lists all the time, but this season I notice their necessity even more. Writing them calms the noise in my head so I can rest at night. It inspires me to get up and get going in the morning. I feel accomplished as I work through them. Making lists is a form of self-care for me. Beyond writing them though, my self-care includes being flexible with them.
My lists are flexible in three ways. Some things will get checked off, some will get changed, and some will come right back off the list.
Check It Off
Cross it out or put a check by it… either way when something is accomplished on the list, you can bet I’m recognizing it’s completion! I even have a special color pen for showing things are DONE. Right now I have a couple of lists going. One is the traditional to-do list. There is also a gift list. Another is a food list. And a to-take list for our various places we will go this season. A common theme this year- ORANGE means done, bought, packed. If I see orange I know I don’t have to mess with it, whatever it is, anymore.
Most of the time, I’m of the opinion that a to-do list should not include things that are done unless they started un-done. Not right now. This time of year I start every to-do list with something I can check off right away. If I do something extra while I’m out running errands, I write it down later just to check it off. I’m human. I need extra encouragement when the lists feel overwhelming. The orange makes me smile, so an extra ten seconds to write an already done task is worth it right now.
Change is Queen
The biggest example of having to be willing to change is the gift list. It’s ever changing. Not just because I buy something and check it off, but also because a gift finds me while I’m out or something I had in mind is out of budget. Being able to adapt, change, and adjust is imperative in all things- gifts included. This is also true for the to-do list though. Some things get shifted in priority. I happen to be by the gas station but it isn’t truly necessary that I get there just yet. It isn’t anywhere near the top of the to-do list. Good strategy suggests that I fill up now before I’m on empty and have screaming kids in the car and have to brave the line and the cold right now. Murphy’s Law tells me that is exactly what might happen if I put it off. So I get the gas and save the pressure later. Being flexible with my lists and considerate of my time and energy right now is a true sanity saver.
Take It Off
Cut it out. Take it off. If it isn’t contributing to the solution, it is part of the problem. For instance, I was planning to make some cute angel ornaments for the staff at my girls’ Mother’s Day Out program. Their teachers and the director are fabulous. We definitely want to celebrate them. I have fond memories of making angels from growing up. And they are adorable and last for years. I have a few on my tree. But right now, I need less to do not more.
I will have time to craft with my girls when they are big enough to help. We can make angels for their teachers and friends in a few years and memories while we are at it. This year though, I found some adorable ornaments for a killer deal and I jumped. My list changed- flexibility! But more than that, the time-consuming craft that had to be done when my toddlers were not underfoot (read: after bed or while they are at MDO itself) is off the list. As soon as I crossed off that big task that also required creative energy that’s in short supply, I felt ten pounds lighter.
As you make your to-do lists this year, be flexible with yourself. Enjoy pretty pen colors! Cross things off, change things up, and let go of the things that are adding to the noise. Hopefully it will help you enjoy the holidays along with those around you that you are creating magic for.