Making a list

December was going to be the Month of Great Accomplishment.


I am aware that this happens a lot. I start out every month with plans to so thoroughly decimate my to-do list that for the next six months I can spend all my non-working hours being a fun mommy and a relaxed, well-read, well-exercised, well-socialized, and, of course, regularly pedicured, woman.

As always, I began with huge optimism. I was taking a week off after Christmas, and for once we weren’t traveling. Which meant no packing and unpacking, which meant it was going to be the best vacation ever.

I joyfully wrote my list and checked it twice. But then for a week and a half–nothing. The only changes to the list were additions, for goodness’ sake. True, I was fairly hopping with Thanksgiving and the Maiden’s Nutcracker performance and of course parents’ open house at her dance school had to be at the beginning of December, and work, and Christmas, and blah blah busy blah.

But still. There were opportunities. I just couldn’t bring myself to actually do anything I was supposed to be getting done. And I had no idea why. The stakes were enormous: a fabulous week off with NO (okay, minimal) obligations. Who wouldn’t be motivated by that? Besides, apparently, me?

Then everything changed overnight. I had discovered the magic of the list linchpin.

It’s my new theory. All lists have a linchpin–a cornerstone–that one item that’s holding everything else back. It could be a difficult thing that you don’t want to do, and it scares you away from the rest of the to-dos you’ve written down. Or it could be a key to your motivation source. Or something else, but whatever it is, it has one characteristic: once you’ve done it, the floodgates of productivity are opened.

My linchpin was to call the massage therapist and book that Groupon session for the week after Christmas. I kept forgetting to do it, but as long as it wasn’t scheduled I think I had difficulty subconsciously believing that I was actually getting a holiday.

Then I did, and it was like a giant Abracadabra. Once the date and time had been entered on the calendar, it hit me: I am going for a 90-minute massage in a few weeks and the Maiden is going to be at a camp and I am going to spend the day shopping and reading and maybe both and it is going to be awesome.

Then it also hit me: crap, I really need to get moving to make this happen. And move I did. I started checking off items like a– I don’t know, what checks off items fast? The Maiden when she’s doing homework and isn’t being careful? Ha. But regardless, I was incredibly focused. I wanted to finish. I was woman, see me cross stuff off lists.

The drive carried me right on through several crises, including one in which the motherboard on my laptop failed (for real) and I spent a day and a half trying to retrieve my files. I still kept going.

I owe it all to that linchpin.

If your December list is giving you the blahs, look through it and figure out what might be causing the holdup. Then force yourself–yes, force–to do it, and things may start falling into place faster than you expected.

Happy crazy crossing off-ing!


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