THE BLOG

How 3 Lists Run My Life

I've always been a list person, but my sanity (and the survival of my family) became dependent on my "Three Lists" at the beginning of this academic school year. When I forgot to pick up my son. On the first day of school. When I had already picked up my daughter from that very same place.
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Don't You (Forget About Me)

I'd like to say that I run my life using three lists; but, if I'm being completely honest with myself, it's much more accurate to admit that the lists run me. But I'm OK with that. Because it's the only way anything in my life gets done.

I've always been a list person, but my sanity (and the survival of my family) became dependent on my "Three Lists" at the beginning of this academic school year. When I forgot to pick up my son. On the first day of school. When I had already picked up my daughter from that very same place.

To be fair, we started school on a Tuesday and on Tuesdays our children get out of school earlier than other weekdays. And as a way to ease new students in, kindergarten kiddos get a staggered first week, so Cameron only went to school that first day for 25 minutes or something absurd (not really, but it sure felt like it). But since I received that phone call from the school saying that poor Kane was still waiting for me to pick him up, my Three Lists run. my. life.

I keep all of them in my MacBook's notes, which then link to my phone so I can always consult and change on the go. I have sublists and cross-references, but the Three Lists are boss. Curious about the breakdown? Here it is:

List 1: My Weekly Activity List -- I write this list for the upcoming week every Sunday. It's broken down by day and then by time. It has daily to-do's, errands, exercise scheduled, meetings, TIMES TO PICK UP CHILDREN, and kids' activities. I check each of these off as the day goes on otherwise I'll forget to look at the list, and then, well, you know what happens.

List 2: My Monthly Menu List -- I plan our dinnertime meals 30 days at a time (you can check our our most recent meal plan here). I divide it into weeks and hyperlink all the recipes. It helps me think about balancing meals, reduces food waste, and simply gives me a running list of recipes to go to. I generally shop on Mondays for whatever I need for that week and I move meals around as necessary when things come up (e.g., events, unexpected leftovers, etc.). Without this list, I default to "oh let's just order something" and before you know it, we've spent 1/2 of our weekly grocery budget on getting one meal delivered.

List 3: My Work List -- I plan writing, including blog posts, guest posts, and working on my book, one month at a time. Like my menu list, it helps to visually see a map of what I've got so I can make sure to keep content varied both in terms of subject matter and time-intensive pieces. And it makes sure I meet writing deadlines. At the top of this list I keep a running roll of writing ideas for both my own blog and freelance pitches. I look at all of this on Sundays and then add in "to do" items to my Weekly Activity List where necessary.

And that's how I keep our crazy organized. I'm not sure if the necessity arises from the fact that I'm getting older and my memory is getting suckier, or the kids are getting older and just have more stuff to do. But one thing is for sure: if you want something from me or for me to do something for you, you best get on one of those lists.

How about you? How do you keep your life running?!