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Living on a List — 5 Ways to Stop Being Ridiculous and Start Living Your Life

January 2, 2014

Happy New Year! Wilson and I spent New Year’s Eve with some of our best friends and hosted a progressive dinner party between three houses. I was wary of the progressive part of the evening — logistics, getting a cab, etc. — but it turned out to be the most exciting element because it kept the party fresh and energized. The night was also a smashing success because Wilson and I decided to wear wigs. For no reason.

Wig PartyWiggin’ out in 2014.

Now that our New Year’s celebrations are behind us — unfortunately, I really loved that wig — it is time to address my New Year’s resolutions. I have a few:

1. Cook at least two meals for me and Wilson each week. Wilson and I have the terrible habit of getting takeout on the reg, which is both a fattening and expensive indulgence that needs to be tamed.

2. Continue to put the finishing touches on our home. I put interior decorating spending on hold with the wedding last year, but now it is time to focus on making this house look complete. We’ve lived in it for over a year, after all.

3. Stop being so damn OCD.

The first two I feel are self-explanatory, but I will expand on the third.

I tend to be a little OCD. My OCD most often manifests itself in my addiction to making lists, which I LOVE to do. I have a to-do list for the house, a short to-do list for work of things I need to accomplish that day, a long list of ongoing work to-dos, a list of wedding thank you notes to write, a list of people to call, a list of books to read, a list of blog posts to write, a list of present ideas for Wilson, a list of circuit training exercises that I’ve NEVER done. And the list goes on.

It’s bad.

What’s even worse is this is me controlling my fixation on lists. Yes, this is me trying. If I really wanted to satiate my OCD, I would categorize each item by its due date and then organize each item into a calendar. I would also label every closet, nook and cranny in the house too but that’s neither here nor there…

Needless to say, I have a problem. I am living on a list instead of living my life and it’s ridiculous.

Because it is in my genetic DNA to be ludicrously organized, it is going to take an enormous effort on my part to stop making so many lists that I cannot POSSIBLY accomplish. And to really hold myself to this resolution, I am publishing this absurd — yet creepily satisfying — quality so that all of you can hold me accountable.

Here are 5 ways I plan to manage my OCD list problem. This post’s purpose is not to eliminate lists entirely from my life — AHH! — just tactics to use to be organized in a mentally-healthy manner. In other words, how to not be bat-shit crazy.

1. Never make a massive list of every thing you need to do in your life. This is something I’m extremely guilty of, but I am making a conscious effort to stop in 2014. There will never be a time when you have enough time to accomplish every outstanding item in your life, so don’t put all of them down on paper — it will just make you feel overwhelmed and unsuccessful.

2. Never have more than three separate to-do lists at once. And really you should only have two, but I have a self-diagnosed problem here and have to cut myself some slack in the form of an extra list. When creating your lists, make them manageable and no longer than 10 items. The sense of self-worth and accomplishment you feel once you check off every item on your list is not something to be ignored. Allow yourself to feel this feeling because you deserve it.

3. Once you have made your to-do lists, do the item that you want to do the least early in the morning. For instance, at work, I am going to make an effort to accomplish — and check off! — the thing that I absolutely do not want to do when I first sit down at my desk, instead of pushing it off until the afternoon, which usually turns into the next day — and then the cycle often repeats itself again. Finishing the most-dreaded item on your list first thing in the morning will make you feel awesome, and we all want to feel awesome.

4. Conversely of the aforementioned tactic, another way to handle your to-do lists is to complete the little items on your list. Need to pick up the dry cleaning? Do it. Want to go on a run? Just go. These easy things can be marked off your list in a snap and before you know it, your list will become remarkably shorter.

5. Reward your successes. Once you have marked something off of your short, attainable and accomplish-able — not a word, I’m aware — list, reward yourself. Treat yourself to something really good. In my case, I will be pouring myself a large glass of malbec which I highly recommend, but you do you.

I wish each of you a successful, happy and healthy 2014. Life is not a dress rehearsal — this is it, the only chance we’ve got, and it is too damn short to make it anything less than amazing.

“Live in the sunshine, swim in the sea, drink the wild air.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

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  • Reply Katie H January 3, 2014 at 7:01 pm

    Good stuff! Awesome picture. 🙂

  • Reply Patrice Boyd January 6, 2014 at 2:00 am

    Who is that girl?

    • Reply Anna January 13, 2014 at 2:20 pm


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