Friday, July 7, 2017

How Do You Organize Your Life?

I'm not asking a rhetorical question here; I'm asking because I'm genuinely interested in how other people Manage Life.

When Annie was a tiny thing, I set goals for each season or quarter, primarily to keep my focus.  Now that she's older and things are easier from the parenting perspective, I've been keeping very detailed monthly, weekly, and daily lists of what I need and want to accomplish--from creative projects to homeschooling, home projects and outings, et cetera.  I generally plan at least a month in advance and then have a long to-do list every day. I don't usually cross *everything* off the list, but I tackle most things.

For the past two days I decided not to make a daily list. There was no reason; it just seemed like after our houseguests left and summer started to settle in around us, I didn't feel like constantly referring to my written page.

And during this list-quiet time I've been wondering: do I plan too much?  Am I over-complicating my life with all these lists and plans? Am I sticking so closely to my pre-conceived list that I'm not attentive and responsive enough to more immediate needs?

(Yes. This is me, taking a Sunday nap on the sofa of my father's mountainhouse, with my sister's dog on me, and my father watching football.  I call this "Sundaying!" Finn took this photo.)

Summer seems like a good time to simplify and reconsider.  The only schoolwork we're consistently doing is math (today we did do artist study, history, and poetry--but just for fun, because I felt like it).

I'm also staring down a Big Birthday in a few months.  The passage of time makes me think about the value of time, and how I use my time.

A paper calendar on the fridge, a Moleskine weekly planner, a typed to-do project list, a daily notebook list. A homeschool binder, a prayer journal, a home management binder, the typed-and-organized-by-aisle grocery list on the side of the fridge, a Bible study binder, a creative projects journal (that's not going anywhere!) it too much?

(This cake was too much.  And too delicious.)

Should life be a little simpler, maybe, than I'm making it?

Some people don't even make lists, ever.  And they are completely undisturbed by this--

(Mr. P, contemplating his peaceful life.  Which never involves lists.)

whereas I fear a life without lists. I fear feeling tetherless, tossed about on a sea of whim; I'm too Type A for that life.  And yet am I choosing the good portion?  Or am I just pushing my own agenda? Am I making this more complex than it needs to be?  

So really: how do you organize your life? 


  1. I make lists (not as many as you do), but I have a hard time sticking with them. Part of that is habit, part of it is my two-year-old. But I have to say that I am happier when I do stick with my plan. I also think it's important to be flexible enough to change plans if something comes up.

    It looks to me as if you've been organizing your time quite well. You get more done when you plan to get stuff done, right? And I know that life isn't all about getting stuff done, but I feel better about myself when I've accomplished something at the end of a day.

  2. Funny, but I have been wondering the same thing lately, and praying about it! Summer has been a nice space to have less "have to do" things(esp homeschool) so I can consider this. I'm not a naturally organized person, so I overcompensate by my over-listing! My husband looks at my list and says "You can't do all of that in one day!" and I "know" that's true, but I still try:) What I am learning so far for me: it is the why more than the what, and the "why" has to do with serving/loving not "getting it done" and that being led by the Holy Spirit (more than my list) in my responsibilities makes them restful and me more attentive to the people in my life. Still pondering, though. I, too, feel a little lost without my lists, but I am also craving some rest from them.
    (BTW, I am new to your blog and really appreciate your interesting posts and encouraging words!)

  3. I like making lists but rarely follow them completely. My husband is so list conscientious that if he doesn't get everything accomplished on it he feels let down and stews about it. We both tend to add two "to dos" for every "done".I think I just like listing to see what my priorities are. Then I do what I like anyway.
    Thanks for sharing, this was fun.

  4. I'm a list maker--but I rarely follow any of my lists, except for the day's small to do list. After many years of this, I'm starting to realize I might as well not actually make the lists, since they don't seem to do anything but take up paper. But I make them anyway, because the practice itself makes me feel like my life is manageable.

    It sounds like you actually follow your lists, so maybe instead of scrapping all your list making, all you need to do is add "Don't do anything for an hour today!" or "Only do fun and unplanned things today!" every once in awhile to the lists you make. That way you can throw in some fun and unscheduled time, without quitting what is obviously working for you.

    Or--you could give up the lists for the summer, embracing the free-spiritedness of the season, and then return to list-making/following for the school year.

    This answer is completely too long; I'm sorry! :)

  5. I have a calendar on the fridge that lists doctor appointments, outings, birthdays, and upcoming money things (for example -- May: Archbishop Catholic Appeal, July: school supplies, Sept: school pictures). I glance at it every day to keep those things fresh in my mind. Daily, I keep a little 2-3 item list with things that must be done or should be done. I do this every day, and try to get everything finished by the end of the week. In the past, not getting those things finished by the day's end would have really bothered me, but there is nothing like a baby/toddler to give you perspective. I also keep a long list of big things to do around the house divided by rooms. Included in this list is everything from decluttering closets to decorating to outdoor things. Another list I keep is a project list with all the things I'm currently working on and would like to work on in the future, for expample, baby books, photos, a quilt.

    I like the big lists, because when I find some free time (which isn't often these days) I can look over the list and work toward crossing off one of those goals. If I don't get the goal completely finished, I note where I had to stop so that the next time I pick it up, I don't spend a lot of time trying to remember what I should be doing or have already done.

    Probably, I could have summed this up with a few sentences, but I wanted you to see how I do things. I find posts like yours and the accompanying comments very helpful. Basically, I make sure the day to day gets done in a week, and I like to keep big lists to free up my brain and serve as a guide. There are some things on my big lists that are carried over from year to year because of finances, time, etc. I only assign deadlines if absolutely necessary.

    Good luck! I know this can be a real struggle.