After reading Rob’s post (based on a conversation with Jeff) there’s an advantage to making a list that I think he hasn’t realized. I know that when I see another person’s list, I know how I can best help them. I’m a helper. This is where my passion for social justice originates. I like to work for causes, and whether the cause be sexism or a cluttered basement I come at them with passion. Sometimes I do better with the basements because I know I can really make a difference there. I also take pride in results. When I can see my efforts have made a difference I know I am valuable. So you see, it’s all about me. Your list has the potential to raise my self-esteem.
I come from a family of list-makers. My parents kept a (very short and ever completed) list on the fridge. My dad worked a lot and so it was my mother’s eyes that identified a lot of the things that needed attention. Since she worked part-time and was and is a thorough (very thorough) housekeeper, she noticed things in need of maintenance and repair before the damage was ever too serious. The list allowed them to prioritze jobs and because they worked together they motivated each other. It also helped that they had the same goals: to keep their house in shape.
I have had lists on my fridge, in between the artwork, receipts, and event notices, and somehow friends notice them from time to time. Several times this sharing of lists has turned into offers of help with tasks that were too big for me to do on my own. Once it turned into a referral to someone who replaces windows well and for cheap. It can serve as an indirect way for people who are uncomfortable asking for help to let their needs be known. If a helper comes along, they’ll have an opportunity to offer. Other people won’t even notice the list.
Personally though, I’m changing my way of tackling list-type jobs. Instead of itemizing things that need to be done in lists that are beyond my time and energy, I’m trying to add routines to my life. I’m already decent at keeping up the laundry (washing and folding anyway). But wiping down the bathroom daily is becoming instinctive. It’s not the same as a thorough cleaning, but it’s manageable and keeps it tidy. For now I sweep the centre of the room which makes the kitchen look much cleaner and I hope to add the edges one day soon, as soon as I get the ‘important stuff’ picked up from where it lines the walls. The more times I sweep the more I want to deal with the clutter so that my kitchen is returned. It does look better. It’s not as good as sweeping and washing and scrubbing down the cupboards might be, but I don’t have time for that right now. Sweeping is acceptable – and much better than doing nothing. Vaccuuming will be added one day when I get a decent vaccuum that can handle the hair 3 people with long hair shed plus the hair of my cats. I figure that once I get used to doing these little things on a regular basis I’ll have more energy to tackle the big things. Becuase the things that used to seem like big tasks will be ordinary routines I won’t notice them anymore.