Hi everyone, I hope that you have had a great week and are looking forward to a weekend of relaxation!
Four days a week, I help manage a bakery called La Bête à Pain in Griffintown. (This is a shout-out. You should definitely come visit me there because this place and the people who work there are amazing.) I usually work about 35 hours a week. That leaves me with 3 days to myself a week. I recently decided that I could dedicate one of those days (Mondays) as my days “off”. That means no scheduled appointments or meetings. I can work if I want to, but I won’t schedule it ahead of time and I’ll only do it if I feel like it that day. Otherwise, that day is dedicated to nurturing my mental health (that might mean cleaning the apartment or doing laundry, spending time with friends and family, batch cooking, reading, exercising, sitting and staring at the wall or whatever else tickles my fancy that day).
The other two days a week are devoted to growing my own artistic business. That includes writing this blog, where I’m hoping to share with you something about my work and myself and give us a place to connect. Social media is ok but I’ve always preferred having my own unmediated platform. Next week I’m planning to write a bit of a sneak peek of all the projects that I have lined up for this year, so that you can look forward to those with me. I’m inspired by all of them.
Today though, I’m going to write about my favourite organizational trick. I use it to stay focused even when it feels like I have a million unrelated things to accomplish in the course of a day. If you are like me, you have big dreams and ambitions but might be missing the skills or resources to realize them. I think that it can be especially difficult to focus on self-motivated projects these days when there is always something vying for our attention. Though I suppose it has mostly always been this way, smart phones feel to me as though they were designed to be inherently distracting.
I have always been a person who tends towards being overwhelmed by the “big picture”. Breaking large projects down into manageable pieces was not something that I came into this world knowing how to do. Luckily, my mother noticed this in me when I was struggling to get started on projects for school and so she started teaching me how to do just that.
My new love isn’t actually new, and it’s simpler than you can imagine, but until I adopted it regularly I did not realize how much of a vital tool it is in maintaining my inner peace on a daily basis. I started doing it intuitively as a way to combat being overwhelmed and then read about it in a book that my mom gave me called “Best Organizing Tips: Quick, simple ways to get organized and get on with your life” by Stephanie Winston.
The trick is to have two to-do lists. One is a daily to-do list and the other is a Master to-do list. The daily one is pretty straightforward but the Master list is where the genius comes in. It functions as a mental inbox. Anytime someone asks you to do something, or you have a thought like, “oh yeah I really need to do that thing,” you write it down on the Master to-do list. Doing this decreases your mental load and allows you more energy to be fully present with the tasks that you have scheduled for the day without having to worry about forgetting that other thing. Things on the Master to-do list are eventually shifted onto your daily to-do lists.
Another benefit of this is that if there are items that have been on your Master to-do list for months (or years) that have never been shifted onto a daily to-do list, you can see that that item may not be a priority for you at this time and let go of it, rather than criticizing yourself for failing to complete it.
I have tailored this method to suit my current lifestyle by using an app by Google called Keep. (This is not an ad, just me sharing something that I have found to be useful.) I have an Android operating system on my phone that allows for widgets. So I use Google Keep as a widget and keep my daily to-do list pinned to the top so that I don’t even have to open the app to see it, it’s just on my home screen. I change the title of the list to the current date every morning. It has the option to make checklists, which are what I use. When you have checked off an item, it moves to the bottom of the list and is crossed out. It tells you how many items you have checked off of your list. I find this very motivating. I think it works for me because even if I don’t necessarily feel like doing something on my list, I feel accountable to my past self who decided that it was an important thing for me to do.
List-making was probably the first ever organizational tool and it remains one of the most valuable, on top of being infinitely adaptable. You can make it work for you and your lifestyle.
As a silly aside, I have become such a list-making-supporter that my friend Talia told me that she would let me know that I have gotten out of control if ever she sees “go to the bathroom” on one of my lists.