Friday, July 20, 2007

The benefits of lists

As part of my post yesterday I talked about lists. I really can’t emphasize enough the benefits of making and using lists. In the past when I was overwhelmed I just shut down and did nothing. I let my problems compound. But when I discovered the power of making lists everything changed. Lists not only keep me aware of and working on my tasks, they also keep me from being weighed down by them.

As an example, when I first bought my house it was in need of a total overhaul. Except for being structurally sound almost everything needed work. So I added the house to my list of things I needed to deal with in my life. But when I looked at my list and saw the word “house” and thought of all the work, time and money that implied, I was overwhelmed.

So I made a separate list for the house. It included all of the general categories – floors, doors, windows, paint, yard, exterior, garage, electric, plumbing, etc. It’s a big house for one person and it has a big lot. The list added up to over $50,000 worth of work. I was overwhelmed.

Next, I made separate lists for each room in the house and for each section of the yard. For instance, for the upstairs, part of my list was:

1. Repair and refinish wood floors
2. Insulate outer walls
3. Install new electrical throughout
4. Attic insulation
5. Install attic stair unit
Back Bedroom
1. New window
2. New closet and doors
3. Scrape popcorn off ceiling
4. Paint
5. Trim
Front Bedroom
1. New window
2. New closet and doors
3. Scrape popcorn off ceiling
4. Paint
5. Trim
1. New tub and surround
2. New floor
3. New plumbing
4. New window
5. Refinish vanity
6. New vanity top
7. Add another electrical outlet
8. New light
9. Paint

This is an example of how detailed my lists were for each area. I had lists for every room and every section of my yard. I had notations on the list of which things I could do myself, which things I could do myself with help, and which things I had to hire out. I also had information on where I could get supplies and how much it was going to cost.

Once I did this the lists were still daunting but they weren’t overwhelming anymore. The beauty of the detailed lists is as I accomplished each task, no matter how large or small, I could cross it off and have proof of my progress. It also allowed me to prioritize the tasks and helped me focus on finding ways to pay for them. Even if I had no money there was always something on the list I could do that didn’t cost anything except my time and effort. My original list was almost five full pages long. I revised that list a couple of years ago. It’s now one page and some of those things have been crossed off too.

My life is very full and there are lots of distractions. My lists keep me focused and on task. I have lists everywhere and constantly update them or just make new ones. Having my lists has made a huge difference in my ability to accomplish things. Accomplishing things makes me feel good about myself and my environment.

Lists are beneficial! How do you stay on task?


Bernita said...

Sometimes I can fly by lists in my head, but there always comes a point when I need pencil and paper - especially for renovation plans.
Thank you for stopping by my blog. So nice to meet another Libra.

The Anti-Wife said...

I like your blog. Thanks for stopping here.

mcewen said...

I have a variation on a theme.....[a guilty one].....I make the list at night and include all the things that I've already done, that way in the morning I can cross them all out as completed as it give me a feeling of productivity.
Yours, a slightly deluded person

The Anti-Wife said...

Very creative. I like it!

Anonymous said...

1. make list
2. life intervenes
3. waste time looking for the list
4. get boxes
5. hide things in boxes
6. store boxes
7. buy bigger house to store boxes
8. use stacks of boxes to hide unfinished projects
9. invite compulsive sister to visit
10. wonder why she can't commit to coming back for regular visits!

Anonymous sister of Anti-Wife;
"Comfortable with ambiguity"