Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:4-7

24 July 2009

Lists and Letters

I'm a list writer.

Why do I write lists?

1. To remember what I need to do.
2. To help me organise the day/week and give a little bit of structure to my life.
3. To make sure things get done when they need to be done.
4. To have the pleasure of being able to cross things off when they are done.

And yes, I have been known on a bad day to write something onto a list that I'd already done just so I could strike it off and feel some small sense of achievement...I know, I know…

I've got the whole list writing thing down to a fairly fine art these days. I have a diary and a book. The diary is for keeping track of events. The book is for everything else. The book is a simple, inexpensive A5 spiral bound thing. And it serves two purposes.

Firstly it replaces scraps of paper. What used to be written onto scraps of paper – a reminder note to myself, a phone message, the address someone just gave me over the phone, the recipe, the name and number of the three roof plumbers I am going to call for quotes to get the roof fixed – all go in the book. There are no more scraps of paper in my house. Well, not any which belong to me anyway.

The second use of the book is the TO DO lists. I seem to write a TO DO list about once a week. It's not something I do at a specified time of the week. But it seems to happen about once a week because it takes about a week to clear a list (or to get sick of the sight of the old one!)

My TO DO lists include:

1. People to ring.
2. Emails, letters and (more recently) blog posts to write.
3. Things to prepare (like scripture lessons, Bible studies, meeting preparation).
4. Jobs to do (banking, trips to the post office, birthday presents to buy, specific cooking for events or people and so on).

My TO DO lists don't include

1. Domestic tasks – unless it is going to be a particularly BIG week and things need to be prioritised.
2. Things that happen every day – like making breakfast.
3. Every single little thing.
4. Things I know I am just not going to get to – like defrosting the fridge.

But I have discovered that THANK YOU NOTES do not belong on a TO DO list. After we have attended a lovely event or after being the recipient of a gift or beautiful act of service it often occurs to me that I should write a quick THANK YOU NOTE. So typically Ilook for my book and add this intention to my TO DO list.

Unfortunately in the last month I have missed several opportunities to bless someone with a THANK YOU NOTE. Yes, these opportunities make it onto my TO DO list. But by putting "Write thank you note to..." on the list (to be attended to some time later in the week) the spontaneity and immediacy is lost. And by the time I get around to writing a THANK YOU NOTE on Friday for something (for example) that happened last Sunday – when I will see that person again at church before the postman has had the opportunity to deliver my letter – the moment has passed.

And the ironic thing is that THANK YOU NOTES don't take very long to write if you have a stack of paper, a nice pen, some envelopes and stamps ready on your desk for such moments. It's not quite as quick as noting it on a TO DO list – but it's not far off. And it is far better to act on these opportunities to bless someone who has blessed you rather than seeing good intentions lost to inaction because the period between the event and the letter has become too great.

NOTE TO SELF:If it occurs to me that I should write a THANK YOU NOTE to someone then I will not put it on my TO DO list. I will just write the note – and enjoy the moment.

1 comment:

mattnbec said...

Heehee - I've done the "write it on the list so you can cross it off" thing too!

My Mum mentored me in the art of the list. I LOVE lists! So much so that Matt has been known to refer to me as "List Girl" or when there's a lot to do, he just hands me the pen and paper because he knows I'm about to write one! Use them for similar purposes to you. Disorganisation means I'm failing badly with them at the moment, but...

love Bec