Lists. I love them, I need them, I write them. For everything. Whether it be for errands, to-do at home, list of questions for the doctor, things to bring when going to the beach; you name it.
Often times I write out a list right then and there before a given task, just like many other people do as well. Other times I simply print out a list that I have saved from a previous time. These print-outs have been such a great help, a real stress reducer as I just follow the directions and don’t have to do so much planning and thinking. I will touch on two of these types of lists in this post.
Before you go on vacation, there’s lots to do, lots to remember. While busily packing and preparing for one of our trips, trying desperately not to forget anything, I simply decided that this amount of work and stress was not worth repeating over and over every time we go on vacation. Why re-invent the wheel? I had already written down everything I believed we needed for our trip, and in addition I also had a list going of things we needed to do before we left, such as: empty the trash, clean out refrigerator to get rid of perishable foods, make arrangements for mail and our cat etc. For packing, there’s the usual; clothing and toiletries, in addition to important items such as maps, directions, cell phone charger, sunglasses, and what-knot. It can be hard to remember absolutely everything. Some things can be purchased if you forget them; a tooth brush would be easy enough. But it can be a great inconvenience and sometimes impossible task to replace items like prescription medication or your address book.
Once I had it all down on a list, I decided to transfer it onto the computer, with plans to adding on or removing as necessary later on. For example, we didn’t use to have a cat; now we do, so we need to make arrangements for her while we’re away. My kids used to be in diapers; not anymore, so no need to pack diaper supplies these days. Some things change over time. Yes, changes are inevitable. That’s OK. No big deal when it’s on the computer. Select, delete, add on, save, and print.
To simply be able to print out a list has saved me so much time and mental energy. I cross out the items as I go, and knowing that I got it all has given me peace of mind. Something I just don’t have to worry about. Before every trip I still have to think through whether something has changed or whether this trip requires anything unusual. If so, I add it on, then save and print.
Otherwise I’m all set, and spared of all that thinking and wondering of whether I got it all, because the work was done at a different time, and now I’m reaping the benefits. Even my husband, who isn’t much of a list writer, has taken advantage of my lists before; especially after he packed for a business trip and forgot a couple of things he greatly missed while he was away.
Holiday Party Planning
Another list, which I created last year, is a list for planning and organizing a large, family holiday dinner-party. As much as I enjoy having family over for Christmas or Thanksgiving etc., it can be stressful to prepare for it. When I sat down over a month in advance and planned everything, down to the smallest detail, I again decided that this was way too much work to do for only one party. I wrote it down on my computer; another list saved! WooHoo!
On this list I wrote down the specific things to do each day before the party, such as cleaning, tidying the house, setting up the tables and chairs, prepare decorations, foods to be made, when to prepare them. I even wrote down what time to start the different foods the day of, which bowl to serve the various dishes in along with which serving spoon, so there wouldn’t be any last minute thinking and figuring out. It was down on my list, and all I had to do was follow the details.
Some experience is needed in order to know how long various dishes will take to prepare and cook, especially if they are larger than normal. Potatoes, for example, for a huge crowd of people: How long it will take to get a big pot like that to cook is not always an easy guess. I figured, if I peeled the potatoes ahead of time and kept them covered with cold water, I would avoid at least one surprise, and one less thing to do toward the end when everything has to come together right at the same time. Those times when I really don’t know, I ask for advice from other, more experienced people than myself, or do a search to see what I can come up with, then make my best judgement. The next time I’ll have a better idea. In the meantime, if I write down what I did and how that went, it will be much easier to know what changes to make for next time.
My party last year went so smoothly! I knew that if I got items 1-5 done on Wednesday, and items 1-3 done on Thursday and so on, I would be all set on Saturday, the day of the party. I didn’t have to worry about whether I would accomplish everything I felt was needed, and didn’t have to stress over getting everything done in a day or two, since I had all the things on my to-do list spread over several days. Nothing overwhelming on any one day.
When the time comes to host my next large party, all I have to do is make some minor changes, such as the times to start food preparation to match the time of the new party, then print it out. The only thing I forgot last year was to light the candles on the table! It wasn’t on my list…… But: NOW IT IS! I should be all set next time I plan for a big celebration!
WARNING: Once in a while, make back-ups of your information to another computer, or save on a memory chip or whatever; make sure you have it backed up somewhere, as hard-disks sometimes die very sudden and tragic deaths, and without any warning. If (or when!) it happens to you, if you have no back-up for your information, files, documents, pictures… you name it… it is often times lost for good. A good list is bad enough, but there can be other, far worse things to lose. So make sure you have copies of your information! Personally we’ve lost countless hard-disks over the years (we have a lot of computers), but we’ve been OK for the most part because we had saved it all elsewhere. I know of others who had to learn it the hard way. It’s no fun, and that’s very much an understatement.