Featured Image: Some of the lists I found in my room — the homework one is from 2016!
I make lists. Lots of them. For everything.
I make to-do lists — daily, weekly, monthly, and life-long-bucket lists. I make packing lists — for traveling anywhere from twenty minutes away to across the country. I make grocery lists — because I can’t be trusted to remember everything we need. I make self-care lists before going on dates — clip nails, shave legs, pluck unibrow. I make lists of ideas — as few and far between as they are. I have a list of every person I’ve ever slept with. I make pro/con lists for big decisions or boys I like. I even have a list of my favorite words.
I use lists to compartmentalize everything when I’m anxious. When I feel like I have a million things to do, I feel immediately better when I write everything down. I feel organized and ready to tackle everything one by one. Or, I feel relieved because I realize that it’s really not that many things.
For example, I was nervous about my date last weekend, as I always am, no matter how long I’ve known them or how lowkey the date. I was anxious about how we’d stay safe covid-wise, I was anxious about finding parking, and I was anxious about how I would look. So I made a list of self-care things to do that would make me feel good, like a bubble bath and a face mask. I made a list of questions I should ask him and topics we should hit on. I made a list of things I should pack in my bag — an umbrella in case we got caught in the rain, chapstick since I know the wind would chap my lips, gloves because I knew it would be chilly. I felt prepared, and so I was (slightly) less nervous.
At first glance, having several notebooks scattered around my room with various lists looks like I have an obsessive-compulsive problem. But my addiction to writing everything down is from years of forgetting literally everything. In college, I forgot a presentation that was worth 10% of my grade, all because I didn’t bother writing down the date. I was lost in depression and anti-depressants for years; my brain always felt like a puddle of mud. I would forget entire conversations, even when they were important.
Lists not only remind me of the things I intend to do, but they also hold me accountable. I see the tasks that don’t get crossed off, and while it’s okay to cut yourself slack on bad days, those tasks will still be there on the good days, and they ache to be scratched out with extra enthusiasm. It feels good to cross things off a list, and it gives you the momentum to get more done.
Next time you’re overwhelmed, make a list of the things that need to be done that week. Make a list of everything that’s making you stressed–even little things like the dishes. Make a list of everything good that’s happening– even little things like your plant grew a new leaf. Get it all out of your head and onto a piece of paper.