On making lists

To DoApologies, dear readers, for being late this week. I do actually have a reasonable excuse in that I am genuinely busy: busy days at Blast Theory preparing for our crowdfunding campaign – more on that soon – as well as an imminent visit from our French project partners for the EU project AND the Brighton Digital Festival event this coming Sunday. In the mean time, we went up to London to see Oliver’s parents and cook them a Sunday roast (it’s always a joy to cook in their kitchen as ours is tiny – if we ever try to cook something together at home we usually end up banging each other in the face with cupboard doors and knocking saucepans off the stove).

So, now it’s Monday night, 11.40pm, and I am finally sitting down to write. As I have already done this week’s picture, I will have to stick to the topic I decided on last night as I was drifting off to sleep: making lists of things to do. In particular, the important things – the things that you always want to get done but never somehow get round to.

When I originally decided to give up my job, I also decided that I should use the months leading up to my departure to have a general sort-out and clean-up, so that I could start my career break relatively clutter-free. On my list of tasks was tidying the Cupboard of Doom in our living room (everyone has a Cupboard of Doom, right?); getting rid of a pile of clothes I didn’t wear anymore; sorting through old letters and documents; sifting through my books and giving some of them away to make room on our shelves. You know the kind of thing.

To be fair, I did complete some of the tasks – although I appear to have amassed a new pile of clothes to replace the ones I got rid of (turns out, quel surprise, I am not as disciplined as I should be when it comes to not buying clothes while I’m not earning money), and the Cupboard of Doom is looking decidedly untidy again. Despite having around nine months to do so, I also failed miserably to get through some of the other tasks on my list. I still have boxes of unsorted letters and cards I’d like to go through and put in some sort of order. Maybe I’ve shied away from that particular task because I know it’s likely to take me at least two weeks as I will inevitably want to read them all again.

Then there are the ‘tasks’ that aren’t really tasks, more life improvement measures. I know my life would be significantly improved if I spent less time on Facebook, for instance. For ages, I have wanted to implement a weekly evening ‘screen ban’ where I don’t watch TV or switch on my laptop or fiddle with my phone, and instead take some time to read the big art, photography and culture books we have but never seem to look at. I think they are referred to as ‘coffee table books’ because they look good on your coffee table – which is true, but their real purpose is to be read and leafed through and become inspired by. I also want to read more poetry, and to call and email and write to my friends more, particularly those who live far away. I would like to put a day aside to draw and paint a pile of greetings cards that I can use to send out for birthdays etc. I’d like to spend more time reading other people’s blogs and discovering new ones. I had a brief period a couple of years ago where I tried to free up 10 minutes each day to meditate and I would love to reinstate that. I should also get out running again, in addition to beach volley which I will hopefully keep up. Oh, and I really want to improve my French and German and learn proper Spanish.

Why is it so hard to do any of these things? I know that if I did even half of them, it would make me a better and happier human being. Even when I’m busy, like this week, I can hardly claim that I don’t have time for any of it. That’s blatantly not true: if I can spare half an hour to scroll through my Facebook newsfeed and an hour to watch the Great British Bake-Off, I can most certainly spare 10 minutes for meditation and 20 minutes reading poetry.

I don’t know what is stopping me, and so many of us, to make the kinds of changes in our lives that should be perfectly possible and will inevitably have a positive impact. Your list might be slightly different than mine – you might want to spend more time volunteering, eat more radishes or learn to crochet. But I bet you struggle with it like I do with mine. Or maybe you don’t – maybe you are one of those people who have enough discipline and gumption to change old habits and introduce positive behaviours in your life. Either way, I would love to hear from you!

To end on a positive note though, this blog is definitely one successful new habit I have introduced, and one I am very happy with. I know I don’t always stick to a weekly post, but I try my best and I have never left it longer than about two weeks between posts. Writing a diary has been on my list for ages, and whilst this blog is more polished and edited than a private diary, the act of writing and reflecting regularly has definitely had a positive impact on my life. Now then, let’s free up some time tonight to read poetry, and learn Spanish, and go for a run, and meditate, and call all my friends….



2 thoughts on “On making lists

  1. I think you’re trying to do a lot (3 languages!?) and, aside from your recognition of your blogging at the end, maybe you’re not recognizing enough of what you have accomplished. Saying that, I think it’s good to aim for a few of those self-betterment goals. Just not maybe so many because if your list is long, it will always feel like you aren’t accomplishing much.

    I’ve been trying to run more, but it’s been a week since I’ve done that. I’ve kept up my writing (so far) since returning to work but I like your idea of screen-free evenings. Or even less time throughout the day obsessively scrolling through FB and WP notifications.

    That’s pretty manageable, isn’t it? Write, run, less screens. Once I master those, maybe I’ll take on the radishes ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Ha, thanks Silverleaf! Write, run, less screens sounds good. I went to my third beach volley lesson tonight so hopefully I can keep that up too… A friend said the other day that it takes about three weeks to break a habit – a good thing to remind yourself of. And maybe one day, when we’re good and ready, the radishes ๐Ÿ™‚

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