Thursday, May 15, 2014

Daily Lists - Accomplishment Plan

 I've had a few friends who read my blog recently mention that they can't get as much stuff done as I do. They have non-productive days where getting going is impossible. They get nothing done, in their opinion. They imply that I'm some sort of super woman. Whoa. Stop right there!!! Hey, I'm no different than most people. I have good days, and bad days. It's just that in the past 12 years I've made a concerted effort to address my depression and try to combat the evil twin inside my head who prefers to escape troubles by going to bed and sleep all day.

For years when I lived on the mainland I had seasonal depression. Winters were really hard to get through. Some days I'd only get through with going to work, keep the woodstove burning, take care of my dogs and the horse. Not much else. The house was always a wreck from October to March. I'd procrastinate on just about everything. Christmas was a weird mix of fun and depression. The only delight during winter was new falling snow....the first half hour, then it was the pits. 

Moving to Hawaii I suddenly lost the winter depression cycle enough that I had hope to try to change my life. Since everything else about my life was changing, I tried to tackle the depression cycle. I discovered that part of my depression, the year around sort, was triggered by my lack of accomplishing things during the day, which made me feel like a failure. But what I was really surprised to learn was that  - #1 I was accomplishing more than I thought and that #2 I wasn't giving myself credit for it. A friend suggested that I use a daily job list to figure out exactly what my day was like, then go from there. She said to list EVERYTHING no matter how trivial I thought it was. I was to check things off that I accomplished and look the list over at the end of the day. The job list idea worked well for me and I still use it to this day. It gives me the sense of accomplishment that my ego so desperately desires. Instead of giving myself an F at the end of a day, I now think I'm worth at minimum a C even on a bad day, a B or A on good days. 

Nowadays my job list no longer lists the trivial stuff like "wash my hair", "put laundry into the hamper", "brush my teeth". Yes, I was so pathetic that I needed to list that! But I've grown up and moved on. But I still list the daily must-do chores like "feed the livestock", "check the fence line", "collect the eggs". But I'm at the point where I'm ready to just clump them together and list them as "daily morning chores". 

My daily to-do list never includes more than 50 items. Never. I can of course do more if time permits, but I won't list them. The reason....too many things to get done appalls the evil twin inside my head, prompting her to want to give up before I start. Most of the things on the list take very little time, though I include a few bigger tasks every day for variety.....and to get a project going. 

For those of you that are still hanging in there with this blog entry, I'll show you my list for today. As I said, at the end of the day I review what I managed to complete. It's always so nice to see that I accomplished something. 

1- Feed cats
2- Straighten up the kitchen
3- Straighten up the bathroom
4- Feed dogs
5- Check sheep, goat, and horse
6- Check the fence line
7- Feed pond fish
8- Feed chickens and ducks
9- Collect eggs
10- Wash eggs, weigh, refrigerate
11- Check the rain gauge and record it
12- Check the high/low temperatures and record it
Thus ends the list of daily morning chores. 
13- Change lightbulb in hallway
14- Change battery in mosquito zapper
15- Check chlorine and pH in catchment tanks and adjust as needed
16- Put trash bags into the truck
17- Bring toilet paper up from the storage room
18- Call Aloha Woods and order more cedar
19- Call Arrow and order driveway gravel
20- Harvest a bunch of bananas and cut up the tree. Move it to the biopit.
21- Harvest biggest taro corms. 
22- Harvest pipinola. 
23- Plant potatoes (24' bed)
24- Plant beans (24' bed)
25- Plant dasheen taro (10' bed)
26- Spread ashes onto garden beds
27- Dress empty bed with compost and sand (24' bed)
28- Rototill above mentioned bed
29- Move yesterday's grass clippings to the garden area
30- Spread grass clippings
31- Take care of my mother (2 hours)
32- Pick up mail at post office
33- Stop at credit union
34- Pick up 4 gallons drinking water
35- Drop trash off at dump
36- Harvest guavas for chicken feed
37- Sow grass seed in back pasture
38- Harvest two guava poles
39- Paint row markers for garden
40- Assemble one grow box
41- Mow grass along the road
42- Use grass clippings for mulching
43- Move rock pile to rock storage boxes
44- Start a small tray each of kale and broccoli
45- Clean the cat box
46- Clean out the woodstove
47- Broom the house
48- Grind up waste for tomorrow's chicken food
49- Wash my crocs
50- Make dinner

Most of these jobs are quickies. Others are more involved. Did I get everything done? No. But I awarded myself a A because I did other jobs in place of those on the list. Hey, that's one pretty good day by my calculations. 

If you noticed, I did not include jobs where I'm guaranteed to fail. No the outside deck...paint the barn...mow the back five acres...etc. Today I actually got more done. I cleaned up after my last house project, moved excess tile boxes into storage, put the new saw blade onto the chop saw, cut up the waste wood for kindling, broomed up the sawdust, inventoried my house building supplies and made out a shopping list. All little, quick jobs. I'm between house projects right now because I need to pick up more supplies this weekend. 

By now some of you will think I'm looney, or pathetic, or stupid. (Frankly, I no longer care what people think.) But this system gets me through my day, ending it in a pretty good mood. Much better than being depressed as far as I'm concerned. Plus I'm the one grading myself, not someone else passing judgement on me. I will no longer let other people tell me that I'm doing poorly. Oh they can speak as much as they want, but I won't take it to heart. I've discovered that critical people make themselves happier by downing others around them, totally ignoring the damage in their wake. I refuse the part of that damage anymore. 

To date, I'm pretty happy with this system. It works for me for now. 


  1. Kudos to you! I used to make truly impossible to-do lists, running for pages on yellow tablets (and I have some of the old ones to remind me how crazy life was then). Do I still make lists? Of course! I try to list 10 items or less, and I stop listing at 20, unless it is sublisting several steps or items to gather, like a prep list before going on a trip. I don't grade them, but I enjoy checking off the done items - those that remain can go to tomorrow's list. Unexpected events can derail the whole list, but I tend to draw a long curly bracket ( } ) and write what happened. It reminds me that life is uncertain. That's also my excuse for eating dessert first!

  2. Yes, eat the good stuff first! Life is short. :)