You are so busy that you feel like you are going to have a panic attack and/or brain aneurysm.  The worst part is that you don’t really have a concrete idea of what you’re supposed to be doing; you just know you’re busy.  We’ve all been there.  The solution is literally thousands of years old!

That’s right, some of the earliest writings (that archaeologists surely enjoyed weeks of excited banter over when they were discovered) amount to nothing more than grocery lists.  Do as the ancients did and prioritize by taking the stress out of your mind and putting it on paper.

When it comes to the list, it is a matter of personal preference.  Some people don’t like looking at a monster with twenty things and counting on it.  I personally think it can be therapeutic.  

When I’m stressed, everything is bouncing off the walls in my head and it’s hard to know what to do first.  When I have a visual representation of that stress, I can develop a plan of attack and I know I can conquer it.

I have a strategy when it comes to lists.  Sorry if I’m over-complicating something simple, but this really works for me!

1. The Weekly List - This list is for the short-term.  I make it every Sunday night, including every due date (that I’m aware of) for class assignments, meeting dates for group work, and mundane chores like paying bills.  I hate this list, because it takes up the majority of my time, time that could be spent working on…

2. The Creative List - Here, I organize my design work for clients and any creative project that I have decided to go forward with, whether it be music, art, or writing.  In an ideal world, I would love to concentrate on this list and hone my creative skills.  Unfortunately, that is not the case as long as I am in college and classes are in session. I would say that these are somewhere in limbo between short-term and long-term goals.

3. The Life List - This is where I put my long-term life goals.  It is essentially my bucket list.  Currently, I have things ranging from learning a foreign language to writing a full-fledged novel to creating my own roast of coffee.  Diverse, I know.  Whenever I am able to cross just one item off this list, a celebration is in order.

4. The Budget List - I am a strong proponent of not buying crap you don’t need, which more often than not, is the majority of things I want to buy.  So I make a list to keep my consumerism in check.  I try to keep this one as short as possible and never, NEVER deviate from it (i.e. going on a random clothing splurge, or impulse buying anything).  I need these things.  Right now I’m considering hosting for my graphic design site as well as new business cards.  In other words, these are investments.

Knowing When It’s Time to Drop Weight

Sometimes we make the mistake of taking too much on at one time.  We stress ourselves out so much that we find we are not enjoying life for days, weeks even (months?!), at a time.  During this time, it may be necessary to table something and just forget about it for a while.  

If you try to broaden your focus too much, you will start seeing mediocrity in several areas of your life, and it sucks and is very disheartening.  I know this from experience, and I know how to recognize it.  There is as much of an art to knowing when it’s time to let something go than there is to making the list in the first place.

Recognizing an overfilled plate is a key discipline in the art of the list.  Sometimes we just have to put some Saran wrap over it and stick it in the fridge for a while.