Posted by: Hannah | 11/22/2011


I am a list-maker.

Grocery lists. Christmas lists. Song lists. And to-do lists.

In just about every drawer and junk hole in the house, there are half-used notepads with lists scribbled on them.

I also make mental lists. And these are the ones that break me.

I keep a continual running list in my head of all the tasks that need doing. The list tasks are sub-categorized into 1) things that must be done; 2) things that should be done and 3) things I’d like to have done, if I can find the time and energy.

Sometimes I write these down on the calendar in the kitchen. Sometimes they’re just in my head. And I’m pretty sure I’m driving myself and everyone around me crazy right now, because while the “must” list is generally under control (if never finished, because it’s things like “make dinner” or “take Harry to tae kwon do”), the “should” list is making me stabby and the “like to have done” list is nagging at me day and night but I simply do not have the energy and physical strength to tackle it.

Right now my “should” list looks like this:

  • clean & organize my bedroom, incl. figuring out where the bassinette will go
  • finally get the patio furniture moved inside for the winter
  • declutter in preparation for Christmas decorating in two weeks
  • get baby’s room organized (seriously, there is nothing in there right now except for plastic tubs full of heaven’s knows what, the still-unassembled crib, and some stuffed animals that the boys are tired of)
  • buy another stocking and put some baby things in it, just in case the baby comes really early

And then my “like to have done” list is even more alarming:

  • redo the floor in the baby’s room
  • clear out three separate closets in different rooms, all of which are bugging me just by existing
  • clear out & reorganize the kitchen cupboards
  • steam clean the carpets (that’s not going to happen, I’m not strong enough to push the machine. BUT I WISH IT WOULD)
  • make homemade spice mixes from the anti-Oprah gift list to give to family, friends, Harry & Ron’s teachers

I could go on but I’ll stop because I’m feeling a bit panicky just seeing it all written out.

Now – to the point. Some time ago a friend of mine mentioned on Facebook that instead of writing lists of things to do, she was going to try writing lists of things already done. Thus, at the end of the day, spending a few quiet minutes thinking over all of the things she had accomplished since morning and feeling good about that, rather than beating herself up over the tasks left undone.

I thought of this last night as I crawled off to bed, leaving the dishes unwashed and the lunches unpacked (thus guaranteeing that I’d need to get up at 6AM to catch up). At first I was feeling really shitty about it, but then I remembered to pat myself on the back for the things done. So I reminded myself that I kept the dayhome tidy, got everyone fed and napped (even Pixie, who has some kind of allergy to naps, or something), made it to a last-minute school advisory council meeting, started the necessary paperwork to help my dad get his brand-new furniture design & build business off the ground, and made sure the homework was finished.

It did help my state of mind. And I am going to try and remember to do this exercise every night.

New list item: Feel good about what’s done.



  1. What a simple but amazingly powerful idea. I also get stuck in my lists and I’m always getting disappointed in myself.

  2. …wait a sec…that was ME! COOL! 😀
    TaDa! lists are the best! I can’t take credit for the idea, though…my friend Ellie (the Headologist) came up with it. She talked about it in a guest post over here:

    She’s kind of a genius…TaDa! lists ALWAYS make me feel better! 😀

    P.S. Xander is a BIG fan of to-do lists too! He asks me to write one every morning. Today’s list includes: play Lego, watch a movie, and play puzzles. …he may be spending too much time with me 😛

  3. I have this super awesome agenda that has all these different columns for weekly to do things, and the importance, and daily to do things, etc., etc. I am obsessed with this agenda.

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