Monday, 16 August 2010

Things to do.......

I have been a list type of person since I was a little girl. Lists makes me feel safe and in control.
I have a To Do Book.

It is like a compressed gantt chart.
I live my life through critical path analysis.
Throughout uni and my forays into the working world, I became a  creator of lists, checklists, and "to do's".

At uni I had studied a methodology called Critical Path Analysis, which, without boring the bits off you, is a project management tool that helps you to plan all tasks that must be completed, and in what order.

Can I tell you that it is so ingrained in me, that I automatically use this method for my life?

That my "things to do lists" are actually spiral bound notebooks. I have one on the go all the bloody time.

And I keep all of the old ones.

I am not sure why.

Occasionally, if I need to recall phone numbers or details of a task from a long time ago, I go trawling in these old notebooks.

I have them going back to 1998, when we bought our first house.

And it's when I read these old books that I notice that these "to do lists" catalogue our life and how far lovely husband and I have come, as a couple.

The lists, and the dependencies of tasks upon each other, read like a treasure map of what we want our life to be. These lists contain the banal, like "pick up dry cleaning" but also the exciting, like "talk to Andrew about moving to Adelaide?"

The items that get added to my to do list books are limitless. Limitless dreams.

My dreams get entered in, right alongside the chores.

My things to do list is often, then, I suppose, my wish list.

Some of the things that get added are things that I never ever imagined that we would be able to achieve. But I slapped them on in anyway.

But the exciting thing is, my "to do list wish list" items somehow always come to fruition.

It excites me to read over those old lists, look at the old charts, with arrows and dependencies, to see how, if I want something, I can make it happen. A new kitchen? A new job? A relocation?

They all happen. Maybe not immediately, but eventually.

New windows in the laundry? A family? A surprise party for a friend? A wedding? It all happens, eventually.

Not just because it gets written in the "things to do book".....nothing as magical as that, sadly.

But if it goes in the things to do book, that in itself prompts me to work towards it. It becomes a goal. Little things then get done towards the end game. Mammoth life projects get broken down into little tasks. That get done. That just get done.

So whilst my project management tendencies do shit me at times, maybe I am really grateful, really, for this critical path analysis mentality, that helps me, every single day:
If we want this, what do we need to do to achieve it? How can I break it down to make it easy?
Things to do: these tasks help me work towards what I want
our life to look like......


  1. I am very much like you. The scary thing is, I can get multiple notebooks going at once and then I still need my little single daily sheet on the kitchen island too. And I am very purposeful as well. If it's on the list, it will happen!

  2. Note books are so important!! The whole "written word will out live you" thing.Can you imagine how valuable those books will be to re-read for future generations? Perhaps they're not simply to-do lists at all but journals through achievement ...
    I love this post Lucy. Love it!

  3. @Kristy - me to, on the multiple ones. And on the back of an envelope, on top of my mircrowave....and I like the word purposeful.

    Leanne, funny you should say that. I have found some of my Granny's things to do lists inside her old recipe books. They are SUCH an insight to her, and world as a young wife. I treasure them....

  4. I have gone across to notebooks for keeping track of things. I tried the fancy family diary, but that did not work (have a small filofax in my bag for dates). I like the way I can be scruffy with a notebook, use as many pages as needed and tear off bits. I actually write my shopping list on the right side of the page and tear it off just before going shopping. Reminds me that I need to add a note book to that list.

  5. I'm a list person too. I have lists for everything.
    I love your spiral books, and that you keep them. Cool! x

  6. And you always know what you did on certain days. So you'll always have an albi, if you need it. :)

  7. I too have lists for everything. I agree - they make huge, intimidating things doable. It also clears my head a little, so I don't have to try and remember everything!

  8. I have lists and notebooks too. I use plural because once I found I had SEVEN on the go at once. Not a good strategy!

  9. I love list making but my vision board is what helps me stay focused on fulfilling my dreams. Lucy you are so smart it scares me! x

  10. Lists are what keep me sane ... well my version of it anyway! Can't imagine managing with 3 young children without them! But, they sure reek of left brain hey! Thank heavens there's always blogging to bring out the right brain!

  11. Snap! Your post is terrific. We should get together and compare notes...

    One of my 'to do' lists is 'things to ask Lucy':

    1/ You mentioned a milk pudding recipe with barley over at Al's today... please supply recipe!

    2/ covers for notebooks? Where do I go?

    Love your work ♥

  12. Maxabella - I shall post (very simple) barley pudding recipe later.

    And covers for notebooks are here:

    Nice things I like.........

  13. I found this post really interesting. And that critical path analysis diagram is seriously impressive.

    I keep old notebooks too and old to do lists but looking back through them I have found them to be depressing - all the things that didn't get done, the things that fell by the wayside, the things still not achieved. I think I need to take a leaf out of your whole more positive book and see the things that did get done and that they are a way of working out how to achieve something by breaking it down into small steps - even mammoth tasks. Thanks for the insight.

  14. I ADORE the fact that your dreams get entered along side your chores.

    Im am going to borrow that for my own notebooks :)


  15. Oh my Lucy, you are so much like me. I have a stack of spiral bound note books with old To-Do lists. I can't let them go- as you said, one day I'll need a phone number or recipe and I can flick through and find it. I'm a list fiend!

  16. I love that your dreams are alongside the chores, it's how we live isn't it... LOVE it.

  17. ACTinglikeamamaDecember 05, 2010

    you've made me want to go out and get my own notebooks - I think its fantastic!! I also love that you have your dreams alongside the banal tasks.

  18. therhythmmethodFebruary 28, 2011

    Oh Lucy, I love your Gant charts. They confuse and amaze me - little dream fragments just waiting to be sewn together into reality. What a wonderful post. Thanks for sharing :)

  19. Hi Lucy, a great post! Your idea of CPM is wonderful. I guess you are a Project manager. What A5, D3.etc. mean? do they refer to activity ref. no. Spiral notes kept neatly really impressed me! inspired me too. Good work. Cheers.

  20. Wow - love the notebook idea! Though not sure it's a good idea to be feeding my OCD 'beast' at the moment with new things to be obsessive about... haha.
    Hubby and I recently stumbled across our hopes&dreams list we each did up about 9years ago just before we started dating - and I think we could cross off over half the things from our lists. Was very very cool - and surprising! Would be amazing to be able to do this from your notebooks so much more than from just our single pages! Thinking I might have to start this... Thanks for the inspiration!

  21. You know I have a To Do book - but seriously? - charts? Illustrations? You win!

  22. You are a very impressive woman...and a little scary. :)

    "My dreams get entered in, right alongside the chores."
    I love that idea. It's like elevating the chores and making the dreams seem as realizable as picking up the dry cleaning.

  23. I am a list girl. I am sitting here typing with one list about Christmas to my right and a calender/list to my left which includes my childcare arrangements in the lead up to Christmas (I am still working). I feel in control and less stressed just by writing a list.

    I love that you keep your lists. Some friends have an old family farm and they have every notebook kept by the original farmer (who was the current farmers great grandfather). They make fascinating reading - mostly mundane but with the odd gem. I think insights into day to day life of people in past years are very precious. Your kids will get a kick out of those notebooks in years to come.

    As always, you are a very inspiring lady.

    Take care.

  24. I am a massive list writer too! I'm such a procrastinator that without a to-do list I will do nothing.

    Unfortunately not everything on that list becomes a reality... yet.

  25. I've just started doing this this year, and i feel like i'm on top of everything. Although i cross things out as i go and rip out and throw away the pages when everything is complete.

  26. I really need to start a To Do List in 2012. Like, really, really need to. I feel like I've written a whole To Don't List this year! xx


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