The Balance of the To Do List

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It's so important to stay organized, balanced, and inspired. That is the goal of this post. I believe that being organized AND inspired balances you out. The way I do this is by having two ongoing lists and then breaking them down into more manageable pieces so that you don't get overwhelmed. This is easier said then done. The goal is to get you to this picture on the right. You have everything off your to do list and you are just sitting and enjoying life while drinking your favorite drink (mine is lemonade) and relaxing. Trust me this is not impossible it just takes a little organization and consistency so lets get to it!

This picture is why I always have two lists going on at all times. The first list is for the things that I am not looking forward to do...hey i'm human it happens. And the other list is for things that excite and inspire me. The key to this list tho is the due date I place on them. Lets go deeper but start with organized list which is really important to making sure our lives are on track.

The organized list

Ok in real life I don't call it the less fun list. I'm going to admit something to you that only people really close to me know. I call the list....THE SHITTY ADULT LIST. That is a basic summery of what the list is. It's a list of things that I really don't want to do but have to. Let me give you a snapshot of mine.

  • Passport
  • Driver's license
  • New tabs for the car
  • Jury duty
  • Get new hard drive
  • Get everything off old computers and organize
  • Clean out cars
  • Get Stoick neutered
  • Go to dentist
  • Consolidate all electronic cords and cameras
  • Sell shoes and box online
  • Fix car break light that went out
  • Get coat dry-cleaned
  • Drop off donations

This list is obviously less than glamorous but it keeps me on track. This list is on my notes app which means that it is on me wherever I go. It seems that there are always a few items that are on the list but when that list is at zero for a week or so it is the most glorious feeling ever!

When my list is this long I make sure to put in my calendar at least one thing a week. If it's a relatively quiet week I will add up to three but no more or it doesn't get done because it can be overwhelming. This list is so important because we have so many things going on in our life and so many demands that often aren't of our doing. For example, I am going to without a doubt forget about jury duty unless its in my calendar and on my list because it isn't a part of my normal everyday life. The same goes for kids and the demands from school that are often yearly like curriculum night or that one mandatory sports meeting that is always scheduled on the most inconvenient day. If you don't have it on your list and/or in your calendar odds are it will be in the back of your mind nagging you but you wont be able to remember what your forgetting. In my opinion thats the worst feeling. I use this list like a brain dump so I don't have to have that nagging feeling.

          We want to go from this                  ---->                                 to this!

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So thats the first list and now that the practical stuff is done lets move on to the fun stuff.

the inspired list

The inspired list balances out the ongoing shitty adult list. The inspired list has to be more fun than the shitty adult list is well uhh shitty in order to balance everything out.

Every season of life you have things that you really want to do and during that season of life I propose that you make a kind of bucket list for the season. Let me give you a quick example. In college I had a list called the College Fun and Friends List. It was all the things I wanted to do in college. Here is what was on it.

  • Study abroad
  • Go to a concert
  • Go on a road trip
  • Go to a fair
  • Play a sport
  • Take a fun literature class
  • Participate in swing dance club
  • Have monthly roommate nights
  • Get group photo of friends once a year
  • Go on an unexpected adventure

So this may seem like a silly list to some but it was important to me. The good news: I did every single fun thing on that list but I don't think I would have if I didn't have it all in one place. I am out of that phase of life now but like I said I always have a list going.

The phase of life I am in now is called The Baby List or in other words, the things I want to do before starting a family. The difference with this list is that they are all much more flexible as in they can be done before or after but I would love to get them done before. 

Here is that list not in any order.

the baby list

So I have already started crossing things off the list and have some in the works which is exciting. But this not only gives me fun ideas for things to do with Pat but it gives me something to strive for and to look forward to.

What does this list have to do with minimalism? Well it has to do with a happy life and gaining control of your surroundings. It also has to do with balance. That shitty adult list could crush me at times it can get so long quickly but I always have this little list of dreams that I like to plan in as well. Its almost like I am rewarding myself when I do the shitty adult list, chores, and stay on budget. This list helps you make sure that you are having fun and planning adventures. Its a proactive life not a reactive life. Each week I include a place to minimize (or re-minimize). It's a simple task that will take about 15-30 minutes. This helps me stay on top fo the house in a systematic fashion. For example I will do one cabinet or section each week in the bathroom. It's not overwhelming (but mind you this is already after I have decluttered just to keep on top of things). We are being proactive before things get bad. 

Here are some more ideas of the kinds of lists you could create...

  • Infant list
  • Elementary exploration (things to do while have young kids)
  • Flew the coop (for the empty nesters)
  • Retired and energized
  • Newly weds
  • Before the hill (before 40)
  • On top of the hill (I would call it king or queen of the hill for those over 40)
  • 30 under 30 

If you are about to be an empty nester, or if you have things you want to do with your kids while they are in a certain stage of life just imagine all the fun you could be having and stress free if you followed this simple recipe.