The List


Did you grow up with the “to-do list”? Every morning in the summer, Mom would go to work. But before she left home, she left “the list” for us kids to do before she returned. Oh how I hated that list and most of what appeared on it:

Weed the beans
Dust the house

Yet, before Mom returned, we needed it to be a “to-done” list – or else!

Well, I realize today (some 40 years later!) that I learned my lessons well and “the list” has become a key piece of my organizational skills and my ability to get stuff accomplished. (Thanks, Mom!) It has also become, however, a source of overwhelm and fear despite the tricks I’ve learned to manage it.

As I look down on those childhood years, I see that Mom managed THE LIST, you know – the BIG list – the one that was never ending and lived in her head. I only saw the list, the segment that formed the to-do’s of today and which Mom believed was manageable.

Today, as an entrepreneur, I now manage THE LIST, and I manage the list. On top of that, I need to manage “me” and discern what I need for balance and well-being. Play? Rest? Work? Creativity? Meditation? I’m pretty good at this discernment day-to-day and can create the list that serves my balance most days. It is THE LIST which wreaks havoc with me.

How about you? Do you have a never-ending set of home remodeling projects? Is your business in that start-up phase where every time you turn around there are three new tasks for every one completed? Are you a creative like me and ideas for “what’s next?” come faster than a locomotive and creative time disappears at that pace as well?

Here are some things I know that I would like to put into more regular practice:

  • Celebrate creative ideas! What if I had none to choose from?
  • There will always be more options, more ways to spend time, energy, and money than I could ever follow through on.

In other words, expect more and more and more ideas! Treasure the energy in you that sees possibility. Know deep inside that you never want this list to become a “to-done” list. (Jeanne, are you listening to yourself? Are you learning here?)

Consider also these thoughts related to your LIST:

  • Today’s ideas might be great – and they might be the spark that ignites an even better idea!
  • Today’s ideas might not be great. Does this one even go on the list?
  • A great idea today might have come at the wrong time and need to sit on the back burner awhile.
  • A great idea not executed today might need to be released tomorrow because it simply isn’t great anymore.

Take a look at your LIST. Consider:

What have you already completed without realizing it?

What ideas naturally group themselves together into larger themes?
What no longer fits at all in the grand scheme?

Let it go!

What still feels exciting, creative or necessary,
but now is not the time?
Can you guesstimate a time frame?
Express gratitude for this future work.
Release any pressure you feel to get it done now!

Finally, return to today and the list that serves you and THE LIST.


What is YOUR wisdom?