• Cindy Murphy

"To Do" Lists. Can They Really Make a Difference?

My simple definition of a "To Do" list is:

A list made up of various tasks to be accomplished for a project and most generally, within a given time frame. (Maybe not so simple, but hopefully understandable.)

We make lists for many reasons and at different times. There's the first thing in the morning list and the end of day list. Morning lists are generally made up of things we need to do during the upcoming day. End of day lists are either things we didn't get done that day or new things we need to do the next day. Lists can go on and on. They can be neatly kept or extremely messy. They can be put in places where they're easily viewed and remembered, or lost shortly after they're made. Who among us hasn't searched for our list?

I guess it's fair to say that not everyone is a list maker. Many people can make mental notes, lock them away and remember them when needed. (Maybe I could do that when I was younger, but I can't remember!) Nonetheless, when large projects are looming, making a list of tasks to complete is a good idea for most people.

This post will cover ideas about list making that are generally needed to facilitate downsizing.

Identifying What Needs to be Accomplished. Writing It Down.

Take time to consider the tasks that need your attention. It is also important to consider the time frame involved. An example would be if you have sold your home and the new buyer takes possession in forty-five days. You will need to build-in adequate time to accomplish the tasks that need completing before you move. A special note: if you know that you will be putting your house on the market, it may be wise to start move-related tasks weeks, if not months, in advance. Stress avoidance is key in this situation.

Make Sense of Your Tasks.

Separate your lists onto pages by rooms or however you want to organize the tasks--kitchen, garage, basement and so on. To avoid becoming overwhelmed, start simple and work your way up the difficulty task ladder. An example of starting simple might be the "junk drawer" in the kitchen. (I'm sure we all have one of these.) If possible, take the drawer out and put it on a tabletop where you can comfortably sit next to it for a few minutes as you sort through it. Usually spaces such as these should be pared down considerably to the necessary "keep" items.

Complete the task. Check it off. Date it. Move on.

It's common to build your "to do" list with the obvious tasks that need completed however, it's those additional tasks that sneak in while performing the original task that can quickly increase the list and add hours to the original plan. As your "to do" list is being made, take extra time in each room to capture every task that could come up. Take a bedroom for example. Does the closet need a thorough cleaning? What clothes should be donated? Are the dresser drawers full of socks or undergarments that need tossed? And when was the last time the dust bunnies were shooed from under the bed? Every room could have hidden or forgotten areas that need attention. Try not to move on until everything identified is dealt with.

Once a task has been completed it's time to check it off the list. You also may want to add a task completion date. Do your best to estimate the time it will take to accomplish each task or room. This is what I call building a realistic time frame with attainable goals. Be honest with your goals and what you're capable of achieving. It's easy to become discouraged if you are unable to meet the goals you've set.

So, to Answer the Question...

...Can "to do" lists really make a difference? YES! In my professional opinion "to do" lists can not only organize the often chaotic tasks to be accomplished, but they can provide a roadmap that can light the way to a successful end. A quick note in closing: if you need help with certain tasks on your list, please ask for it. Not everyone can or should climb ladders or stepstools for example. Let friends or family know you're needing an extra helping hand or hire a professional to assist you.

Photo © Cynthia L. Murphy, 2021

#ToDoList, #MakingAToDoList, #DownsizingAndTheToDoList, #SettingGoals, #AchievingDownsizingGoals

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