To do or Ta Dah?

I’m talking about lists here.

For those like me, the eternally disorganised, the to do list is a scary thing. I’ve embraced it many times, making such beautiful and well organised lists you would weep at their inate loveliness, and then failed to do more than half on the list. I made lists of the disjecta membra of old lists; I still do.

The thing with the oncoming winter for me is the lack of structure. If you have a day in which to do not very much, you often find at the end of the day, that’s exactly what you’ve done: not very much. I also find the more demoralised I get by the lack of light, the less easy it is to whip through tasks that ought to take half an hour. Things get put off, or just forgotten.

Workwise, I haven’t got a lot on now. I’m tutoring a single student for a couple of hours once a week(need to go soon) in subjects that are not my specialty. This means I am having to face certain academic demons again, like maths and physics, to be able to teach them effectively. You should have seen my brain oozing out of my ears on Sunday trying to master quadratic equations. In motivation terms, it means I need to plan out a programme of learning. Couldn’t quite manage that today, sorry. I know what we’re doing tonight and that’s it so far. Other work, well, I’m off to Germany for a few days at the end of next month, so my task is to be able to speak sufficiently fluent basic German by then. The process is made possible by the fact that I did once speak some German and by some rather nifty cds I have now uploaded onto my mp3 player. It means I need to spend a minimum of 15 minutes a day on that, or better, half an hour. This is doable.

Now comes the clever bit: the ta dah! list. The ta dah! (said with an internal flourish of triumphant trumpets) is a list of what you HAVE already achieved. My advice is never make a to do list till you’ve made the ta dah list, and for  very good reasons. First is practical. If you make a list of what you have already done, you have a better awareness of what still needs doing. Second reason is psychological. If you tell yourself FIRST about your achievements, your subconscious reacts much better; it then tends not to get its knickers in a knot over what you haven’t done. Positive reinforcement.

So my ta dah! for today includes: half an hour of German(the mp3 player ran out of juice) , dog walked to the point of exhaustion(for both of us) dinner bought, new conference file bought for next trip, masses of information about my cities of destination printed out and then highlighted for ease of use, uploaded my German cds onto mp3 player, yesterday’s and today’s dishes washed.

That’s not including the things that some days there is a lot of point in including: such as getting out of bed, having a shower, making breakfast and so on.

The fact that I’ve done very little or no chores round the house is now not relevant. Housework is like painting the Forth Bridge; endless and depressing.

I’m trying to learn to be kinder to myself by not forgetting my own achivements. So, next time you start to write a to do list, how about a ta dah? list first?