Resolving the problem of extreme list making

Were you one of the gazillion readers who pushed sales of The Lifetime Magic of Tidying Up through the rooftop? For those who didn’t read the book, author Marie Kondo shared tips for the sport of extreme decluttering. Kondo gave one piece of advice I’ll never forget: “Believe what your heart tells you when you ask, ‘Does this spark joy?'” If an item doesn’t give you joy, she advises getting rid of it.  I tried to apply this rule to my efforts to declutter kitchen utensils, my underwear drawer, and linen closet. Although using the items in each of these locations does not make me want to clap and sing aloud, I  find them to be very useful and, consequently, felt compelled to shove the drawers closed.

I bring up this topic, because it reminds me of a blog post I just read about overcoming another bad habit, titled “How To Only Do Things You Actually Want to Do.” In this, writer Christine Carter takes on the topic of things-to-do lists. She says, “Ineffective task lists make us feel like we have too much to do in too little time, which makes us feel overwhelmed. Ironically, this makes us worse at planning and managing our time.” I agree with her on this point. But then, she asks list makers to highlight any items they dread doing, and delete or delegate these items. Cleaning my oven, a task I dread, seems to never make any of my lists. So far so good. But notice the next step. Delegate what you dread?

Even to delegate what I’d rather not do, as in shopping for groceries, doing errands, cooking and cleaning up the kitchen, would be impossible to achieve on a daily basis. I don’t want to try to push off anything more to my husband who does his fair share.  uke-and-gordonAnd Gordon the cat hardly has the energy to wake up from his long winter’s nap except to make it to his food bowl, and filling it every ten minutes is also a hard job to delegate.

Sure, I could pay someone to do everything I don’t want to do, but that seems more like hiring a household staff comparable to the one that reigned in Downton Abbey. Rather than resort to extreme editing and costly delegating, I believe I’ll skip list making. If on occasion I feel pressure to create one, I’ll do it the day of and fill it only with activities I love.


About stillalife

I retired June 30, 2010 after working for 40 years in the field of education and most recently doing school public relations/community outreach in a mid-size urban school district. I wrote for superintendents and school board members. Now I'm writing for me and I hope for you. In this blog, I offer my own views coupled with the latest research on how to preserve our physical and mental health as we age, delve into issues most of us over 50 can relate to like noticing wrinkles and forgetting where we left our keys, discuss the pros and cons of different ways to engage our minds and bodies after we leave the workplace, and throw in an occasional book review, all peppered with a touch of humor, irony, and just plain silliness. Also, I'm on the third draft of my second novel since retirement.
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6 Responses to Resolving the problem of extreme list making

  1. Sharon Howard says:

    I read once that being an aril means doing what you don’t want to do.

    Sent from my iPhone


  2. stillalife says:

    I thought an aril was the term for pomegranate seeds.

  3. Martha says:

    Gordon looks as though he could stand just a bit of delegating. However, knowing cats, I don’t think that would actually achieve completion of any task.

  4. Words to live by! I still struggle (after 10 years of retirement) to simplify my life! I am making progress, though…no Christmas cards this year, and I’ve cut down my decorating to the mantle, the door and the tree!

  5. Mary says:

    I retired in February 2017. My husband is seriously ill. But there is a lot of paper work to be completed and a lot of old paperwork to be pitched. It could take this year to complete. But I reward myself when I have finished pitching a box. Just about anything will do. Making hairdresser appointment, trying new restaurants, getting together with old friends and making new friends.Almost forgot getting out my list of writers that I really enjoy reading. Going to read now.

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