Yesterday I threw out my last list. I have been slowly getting more and more reliant on my daily lists. I can blame this on many things – baby brain, Christmas coming up, being incredibly busy, many things. Whatever the reason the scary thing that I started to notice was that I would start to feel anxious if I didn’t complete my list. I would re-schedule things, re-write the list, I had to get it all done. I’ve tried to let things go, but I find it so difficult. My lists have served me well over the years and I have been able to achieve so much. But, I know deep down that as life is about to change – I too need to change. After all, if baby wants to sleep/feed/poo/cry/play it is going to happen regardless of what is on my list. I better get used to it now.
I had a theory the other day that perhaps baby-brain has a purpose. What if we were intended to forget all the unimportant stuff when we are pregnant? What if the effects of the hormones are actually meant to make us switch off? This might sound crazy but hear me out. I’m not going to forget to eat, or sleep, but to return the library book – maybe. Maybe writing everything on a daily list and studiously crossing it off so I don’t forget something is not the way to go. Maybe I am just causing myself stress when I should be focusing on the simpler, necessary things.
So when does a list turn from motivational to detrimental? For me it is when: I find my allocated writing time slot is spent checking off the list, re-writing the list or thinking up new things for the list. It is when I don’t get to the end of the list and I notice the familiar pang of stress ebbing it’s way in. This is especially noticeable when the things on my list that I didn’t get done aren’t necessary but I worry about them anyway. It is when I lay awake at night making up the list. It is when I find myself over-planning and I realise that if I didn’t do that thing in advance as it was listed, it would have worked out better anyway. It is when I lose the freedom of spontaneity to the chains of the list. It is when I start to make lists for Todd. I am here on most fronts – it is time for change.
I will still need my diary to keep appointments as I’m afraid I can’t totally negate my regular life. I still have eight shifts of work left and check-ups and classes that I can’t miss – but daily lists are a thing of the past! I have finished uni which is one less thing to worry about (and schedule). I know my novel will get finished – even if I don’t schedule a writing time-slot. As I said, most of these time slots get eaten away by other things or I simply just fall asleep. The writing process is very slow now but I still have time, and most importantly motivation. When I do focus I produce quality but I am finding I need much larger windows to work with, rather than an hour here or there as I did in the past. When I sit to work or open the laptop now there are a million baby thoughts I need to process, and then I sleep a little, and then I can get down to the business of writing. Missing out on my scheduled time, or not finishing the chapter I intended to (as per the list) is frustrating but I need to learn that I can’t keep the pace I once did. I need to let go. The essential things in life will still happen – list or no list.
I promised to be list-less by Christmas and here I am. You would think I felt enlivened when I woke this morning with no list to complete, but if I’m honest I felt a little lost. The question buzzed in my head ‘What did I have to get done today?’ There were a few things floating around in there but without my concrete list I didn’t really know where to start. So I didn’t. I stayed in bed, I read some of a baby book for about a minute and then I fell back asleep and actually slept in. I must have needed it. I’m not totally over my list addiction but I can see a light and I think I’m going to enjoy it, I’ll just have to learn to adapt.