Make … a list

Note in pocket

I use lists on most days. I have lists of work tasks and lists of home admin tasks and shopping lists. Last Saturday I decided to dispense with lists, and have a relaxed day.

My “listless” days in the past have been delightful meanders. I could wander into the kitchen and think of crumpets and spend some time making them. I’d notice that the cushions were dirty and put them in the washing machine. I would lie outside in the garden and read. I’d make tea. I’d remember that half-knitted blanket and do a few more rows. I might feel like some exercise and go for a walk, perhaps towards a spot where I could eat lunch. Listless, meandering days made a lot of sense once, as a break from my busy life.

But last Saturday turned out differently. My lack of a list left me lost. This small apartment did not present me with things to attend to. There are no bookshelves to tempt me with reading matter. No craft materials to keep me busy. Not being able to leave the apartment meant no walking, no distracting delights and certainly no lunch options at the other end of a walk.

I found myself feeling bored and listless, in an unpleasant way, somewhat dissatisfied with my circumstances, and with myself for not being able to think of something to do. I was not relaxed, but agitated, with my mind veering towards unpleasant thoughts.

For now, I’ve decided that every day needs a list. Listlessness is not helpful in abnormal times. Lists help to focus the mind and control anxiety.

So, I made a list for Sunday. It wasn’t like my usual lists. This one included drawing, meditating, practicing voice exercises, writing a letter. I listed what I wanted to read and things I wanted to learn about. I also listed ways to keep active – in this case, a pile of ironing. Making this list called for creativity, to identify nourishing and relaxing tasks that could be completed within the current constraints of life. It felt good to be creative.

Sunday was a better day. I had a list of things to do. When I felt lost, I could check my list and start the next thing. This list wasn’t so much about getting things done as it was about creating structure in my suddenly de-structured life. So, for now, with my maker urges curtailed, I will make lists and these lists will make life better.

Are all the Better people out there doing well, adjusting, and finding ways to create? Share how you are avoiding listlessness and staying creative in the comments below.

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