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Your kiss is on my list. Thursday August 20, 2015

I would like to share my approach to writing lists as a vital tool for managing my way through life.

When I'm sailing through a positive phase, my list is merely a reminder of 'stuff to do', but during the low times it becomes a significant weapon in my armoury to find my path, till the light shines again.

Things about my list:

• It lives in 'my' box, in the heart of the house, the kitchen.

• My list must be pen on paper for easy reference and adding new items, and, more importantly, I get to physically cross out a finished item. Yay!

• When the list gets too messy or the page is full, I write a fresh list omitting all the completed jobs. I love the pristine list that is, for now, shorter than the old one.

• It has both long term and small immediate tasks – plan a holiday or book an appointment for the cat vaccinations. Non-urgent items can stay on my list for years if they don't bother me.

One day I will fix the wobbly door handle, but it involves going to B&Q – Ugh.

But what happens when I'm in a low place?


I've got out of bed, showered and breakfasted - quite an accomplishment. Even the easy jobs look daunting – booking the cat jabs seems colossal.

So I break it down and add each component to the list:

1. Find the vet's number.
2. Choose a convenient date and time.
3. Ring the vet.

Right, I've found the number; I can cross that off the list and have a cuppa and/or a rest.

Checking my diary, I see that Thursday is blank. I'd like sometime mid-morning to prevent me from sitting in my dressing gown all day. Decision made.

Now job three is only to call and book an appointment on my preferred date and time.
Best of all, I have crossed three items off my list. Result!

Most jobs can be broken down into smaller tasks and I can see the measurable progress towards the bigger job.

I can put "Kiss " on my list as often as I like.

A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

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Hopeful One Thu, Aug 20th 2015 @ 6:16am

Hi Susannah- cool blog . Amazing too ! You can add clairvoyant to you list. That's mor or less exactly what I do!

Adrian Thu, Aug 20th 2015 @ 8:14am

You have restored my faith in lists.
Now to refresh mine.

Sally Thu, Aug 20th 2015 @ 8:30am

I thought I was a list maker, but you are a list maker" par excellence ", Susannah. I do like the idea of a box Will be trying it. I also like the way you approach your lists depending on mood. It's so useful to have armoury for those fallow times. You have put it very well, and I will be drawing on your ideas, so thanks for sharing.

Susannah Thu, Aug 20th 2015 @ 8:51am

Thanks HO, Adrian and Sally. I realise that using lists is common, but sometimes I need a reminder of the obvious tools that I have forgotten to implement. Sally: my box is a single point where I shove all the stuff that needs attending to: bank statements, magazines, invitations etc.

Leah Thu, Aug 20th 2015 @ 11:04am

Thanks for your blog. I use lists all the time too.
I date mine so it is interesting to look back and see what you have achieved and what needs to be done.
On really low days, I will write on my list, start writing a list, and then I will write cross one thing of list that you have achieved. It is a fun way to start and then I start writing things I have to do no matter how small and like you break things into steps.
Thanks again.

Arlyn Thu, Aug 20th 2015 @ 11:13am

Susannah your blog resonated with me. I used to write one list but now (in my seventies) I have at least two, maybe three lists. 'Tasks for today', 'not so urgent' and 'at some time'. As for the piles of paper in the kitchen I feel I need a whole week alone to get up to date.
My problem is that I am fairly relaxed about my lists until the evening when I realise that I have slacked during the day, then I attend to various things and nearly always get to bed very late, between 1 and 2.230am and have not yet broken this bad habit. This has been going on for about 2 years and my mission is to CHANGE this destructive course.

Susannah Thu, Aug 20th 2015 @ 11:40am

Thanks, Leah.
Hi Arlyn. It looks like you have an oppotunity to try the granularity.
While sipping your morning cuppa/coffee you can add the following to your list:
1. Gather all the piles of papers
2. Sort the pile into groups for example:
- bank statements
- bills
- birthday cards to write
- events to put in diary
- things for the bin
- articles to be read
3. Add each pile type to your list:
- check bank statements
- file bank statements
- write birthday cards
- address birthday cards
- buy stamps
- post birthday cards
- read articles
etc etc
While you relax into your next cuppa you could settle down and read one of the articles you've been meaning to get round to, so go ahead and enjoy it, or write a birthday card - and then cross it off your list.
The bedtime conundrum is not easy. When I do jobs late at night my brain is wired for action and I have trouble sleeping.
Would you like to try giving yourself the goal of crossing one item off a list before lunch? Then another before tea?
If that goes well, then you can go for 1 item off any list and one off your Tasks for Today list in the morning. This will then reduce the number of jobs to do in the evening, relax you more, and allow an earlier bedtime.

Anonymous Thu, Aug 20th 2015 @ 12:20pm

Granularity rocks, Susannah! Paralysed by the thought of clearing out boxes in the attic, which involves tackling physical and emotional baggage, as well as dealing with huge piles of administration, your tips for Arlyn could have been tailor made for me. Thank you so much. Go well!

Lucas Thu, Aug 20th 2015 @ 12:49pm

I've usee lists for a while when I feel overwhelmed, which happens more often when depressed. It helps me put things in perspective: either things aren't that bad, or I can look at it and realize that I really do have a lot on my plate and then just start with whatever i feel most up to taking on.

Now, by the ripe old age of 31 I've gotten a bit forgetful and need lists more often. I like adding small, immediate items so that I can cross something off quickly and feel like I've made an accomplishment. It helps me get started when I have something easy, and once started it's not quite so bad to keep going, even if I need a break here and there.

Susannah Thu, Aug 20th 2015 @ 1:13pm

Thanks Anon and Lucas. I'm with you all the way!

Sara Thu, Aug 20th 2015 @ 2:49pm

Ah Susannah, I am a fellow traveler.I love lists. I've so many that I nearly need a list of my lists! Here are some:

Things I could buy in a shopping centre which is 10 miles from here. Some of the items on this list have been on for years now as they're electronic and I get seriously stressed dealing with young techie types blabbering on in a language that is completely alien to me.

Books I might read as I always like to have a book on the 'go' and I'm not always able for researching.

Clothes I could do with both for Summer and Winter (separate lists of course!) This helps that feeling of panic when I go into a clothes shop, particularly a department store.

A gardening list. I have fun with this as I have a separate one for my better half as I can't do the heavy jobs.

Features I want in a food mixer I've been intending to buy for over two years now, but I'll get around to it eventually.

And what I call my 'could do' list, which I spell 'cuddo' as it amuses me and we're all grateful for anything that makes us smile :-) I used to feel under pressure looking at my 'to do' list so I changed the name and hey presto the pressure is gone.

Wishing all my fellow 'listers' a calm day.

David Thu, Aug 20th 2015 @ 10:11pm

Lovely blog. As a complete nut for lists, graphs, pie charts, etc, so I'm right with you, but hadn't thought of breaking down the tasks into ever smaller pieces. So thank you very much

I think I need a bigger pad :-)

Anonymous Fri, Aug 21st 2015 @ 3:07am

Thank you for the blog, Susannah, and for the label of "granularity" for something that I've heard of and used before. I think that being able to put names to the important techniques we use to keep ourselves steady makes them just a little bit more powerful, and sometimes that is just enough.

Susannah Fri, Aug 21st 2015 @ 3:44pm

Thank you listers :-)

Debs Sat, Aug 22nd 2015 @ 6:49am

Hi Susannah - am just rushing in at the last minute (forgot to put 'read Moodscope' on my list on Thurs ;-)) to say what a fab blog. I get it totally, without my list I am a dithering ball of anxiety! It's an anchor for me to keep me rooted in one place. Thanks for helping me see how important it is as a ritual. Big love, debs xx

Caroline Sat, Aug 22nd 2015 @ 12:38pm

I am proud to say that Susannah is a personal friend and she introduced me not only to Moodscope also but to this listing method. It really is fantastic and having read through all the posts I think I might be inspired to tackle the attic too. Albeit very slowly.

For work I have a different sort of list based on the Stephen Covey Seven Habits of Highly Effective people. It's habit #3, I have a corkboard sectioned into quarters and I use post it notes and coloured pins. Section 1 is Urgent and Important; 2 Important but not Urgent; 3 Urgent but not Important and 4 Not Urgent and Not Important. The idea is to get everything in section 1 done immediately and focus most of your time on things in section 2. I tend to use section 4 to remind me that I'm waiting on someone else to complete something. A precis of the book can be downloaded onto Kindles or laptops.

Keep listing folks :-)


Susannah Sat, Aug 22nd 2015 @ 1:04pm

Thanks, Debs and Caro

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