Thursday, July 21, 2011

Making a list, checking it twice

If there is one thing that I have taken away from this week thus far, it is the idea of coping ahead of time. For the majority of my life, "coping" meant freaking out over every little thing that lay over the horizon.  It meant restless sleep, restricting my food intake, and full blown panic making decisions over whether I should brush my teeth first, or take a shower.  At the very least, it was ineffective.
This morning, as I was making my list for the day, I realized that this small act of creating structure, was born out of sheer necessity.  After I got out of the hospital, my short term memory was pretty much shot.  So I started making lists just so I could remember what I needed to do, and what I had completed.  In the beginning, they were pretty basic things:
Get out of bed
Have coffee
Take shower
Brush hair
Eat something
Brush teeth
Wash breakfast dishes
Put away
After everything I completed, I'd cross it off, making one line through what I'd accomplished.  If I couldn't remember if I'd done something or not, I could always refer back to my list.
 These days, my lists are more generic, sometimes including the appointments I have during the day, or the errands I need to run.  Sometimes I go into a little more detail, breaking down each task down into smaller tasks, especially when I am feeling overwhelmed.  This morning for instance, I woke up knowing that I had to get some things in order before I have my wisdom teeth out tomorrow.  As I began to write my generic list, I had that creeping sensation of worry come over me, and so I quickly began the more detailed list.  Some people may think this is a little obsessive-compulsive,  for me it's simply helpful:

  • Drop off scrips
  • pick up tp, dishsoap
  • pick up scrip

  • Drop off dvds and book
  • find movies (3)

  • start load
  • dry
  • fold
  • put away

  • toilets
  • sinks
  • showers
  • floors (sweep & mop)
Go for walk around park
Pack bag 4 tomorrow

  • ice packs
  • meds
  • jello
By writing this list down, not only did I ease my anxiety about "all I have to do today,"  I accomplished the majority of my tasks before 10 am.   I instantly felt relieved, competent, and motivated to do more with my day than I had originally planned, such as getting another post completed.  By taking the fifteen seconds more it took to write my more detailed list, I completely changed my entire outlook on the day.
Sometimes it's the smallest changes that make the biggest difference.

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