Being "List"-less in 2013

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My New Year's resolution is to be less organized, less aware of what needs to be done and less productive. And in doing so, I hope to be more so.

Let me explain.

I'm a list maker. I have lists for everything: groceries, work assignments, house projects, errands, Christmas shopping, vacation packing. Honestly, you name it, and I've put a number beside it and, hopefully, a line through it.

My lists order my days, remind me of tasks and bear witness to my capabilities.

Or do they?

I recently read a devotional from Jesus Calling that stated: “DO NOT BE WEIGHED DOWN by the clutter in your life: lots of little chores to do sometime, in no particular order. If you focus too much on these petty tasks, trying to get them all out of the way, you will discover that they are endless. They can eat up as much time as you devote to them. Instead of trying to do all your chores at once, choose the ones that need to be done today. Let the rest slip into the background of your mind …"


As soon as I read those words, I started thinking of my to-do lists and what they really bring into my life.

My lists had been dictating my days, taunting me of things unaccomplished and revealing my inability to achieve.

The value of my days was being measured by the number of scratches I would see on a piece of paper. The value of me was being measured by the number of items that needed me, that needed my attention. And the resentment I felt toward others for not helping me was measured in the number of to-dos that became I-dids.

I have been deceived.

By getting my tasks onto paper, I thought I was relieving my brain, creating space for things of more importance.

But instead the lists were constantly beckoning me. The joy of checkmarks was replacing the joy of the experience. Buying Christmas presents should be more fun than buying Christmas presents.

A Harvard Business Review blog from 2012 titled, "The Magic of Doing one Thing at a Time," confirmed my first revelation and gave birth to my New Year's resolution. It stated that: "… you're partially engaged in multiple activities but rarely fully engaged in any one. … if you're always doing something, you're relentlessly burning down your available reservoir of energy over the course of every day, so you have less available with every passing hour."

That's me. I feel haunted by the to-dos lurking on my lists, the ones nagging me in my thoughts, the multiple ones I’m juggling all at once. I feel pressure "to do" rather than "to feel." I feel pressure to head off potential emergencies. If we don't get our electrical wiring set up for our generator, what will happen in the next storm? I guess we will go without, like we have been.

So what? We'll manage. That's the new me. Or the new me I hope to be.

So in 2013, I'm resolving to manage without the assistance of a list or lists. I resolve to trust that each day I will know what needs doing for that day. That I will feel the greater satisfaction of a day well spent doing what truly matters.




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