My work is all kinds of all over the place. I have two part-time jobs. I am a freelance writer. I run my own copywriting business. I write a blog for fun. I also partner with my husband to take care of our home, cars, and meals.
I love the variety and freedom that this combination of things brings to my life. But, there are definitely systems and structures that I use to stay on top of it all. Probably the very most important structure in my life is my to-do list.
I am an unapologetic (and sometimes obsessive) to-do list maker. My typical day starts with a to-do list and I use this structure to build my day. This structure works for me and I love it.
And also, my to-do list doesn’t always work...sometimes the organization that my list normally brings to my day is nowhere to be found. Some days, I sit down and make the list just the same way that I do all the other days and then I just can’t find the motivation to get the things done. Some evenings, I find that I have had to refine my list several times because I avoided and procrastinated and simply didn’t do the things I should have done.
On these days, I have to find extra grace for myself. You see, on a typical day checking things off the list brings me a sense of accomplishment, pride, and success. Those things aren’t inherently bad feelings, but on the days when the list isn’t working I have to remind myself of a few things.
I am not what I do
The work I do has the power to bring me fulfillment, and I don’t think that’s a bad thing, but I can certainly take that too far. If I let my work and the things I check off of my to-do list run my life, I am letting them control me.
When I feel discouraged and not good enough because my list isn’t complete, then I need to take a step back and remember that the to-do list is just a tool and not my barometer of self-worth. This is something I need to know and remember all days, but on a day when I am struggling to complete the list, it is especially important.
Some days the odds (and emotions) are against me
Do you ever feel like no matter what your intentions are, you just can’t seem to find a single ounce of motivation? I know how you feel.
We have highs and lows in emotions and I need to remember to pay attention to that. If I had a rough week, my emotions might be heavy, and it’s ok to take some time to process that, even if it takes away from my work. If I am mentally and emotionally healthy, I will do better work going forward.
There’s always another day
Tomorrow is always a new day. That is the beautiful thing about tomorrow. Even if I get to the end of my day and not a single thing is crossed off of my list, I always have a chance to try again tomorrow.
Sometimes I just need to let a bad day be bad, knowing that tomorrow always brings a new beginning. As my girl Annie once sang, “...the sun’ll come out tomorrow…” This is always true - maybe not literally - but a new day is always on its way and it brings the hope of doing better next time.
Have a dance party anyway
We should certainly celebrate the big accomplishments and milestones (I’m a big believer in celebrating), but I think we could all use a little more celebrating even if we don’t feel like we’ve done anything noteworthy.
Being alive is worth celebrating.
These precious days are worth celebrating.
Having a to-do list to fail miserably at is worth celebrating.
And, dancing just makes everything better.
So on a day when your list seems like a discouragement, pull out your favorite tunes and start grooving. I’ll be over here spinning The Supremes and dancing alone in my living room.
Hi, I'm Emma!
A Maryland girl who moved to Washington state seeking adventure, I adore writing and delight in sharing my favorite things. I celebrate whimsy and you can find me doing a happy dance when something really strikes my fancy.