You, in Lists

I am the Queen of Lists. (It’s not a self-proclaimed title either; just ask anyone who knows me.) I freaking love them. I have lists for just about everything and around this time of year I like to review them (especially if I’m doing a yearly review, which I highly recommend you do as well.)

What kind of lists am I talking about? I’m talking about the lists that make up you: the things you like and dislike, the things that you think about, the dreams that you have. You have to have at least some of those written down, don’t you?

Here are some of the things that you may or may not have lists about:

  • favourite books/books to read/favourite genres
  • music to try
  • places you’ve visited
  • places to go
  • foods to try/favourite foods/restaurants
  • bucket lists/goals for week, month, year, season, vacation or life
  • movies to watch/favourite movies/TV shows
  • favourite ways of coping with stress
  • rainy day list/wish list
  • ideas for parties/birthday gifts/Christmas gifts
  • favourite board games/card games/party games
  • ideas for garden/outdoor space/home
  • favorite drinks/drinks to try
  • packing lists
  • websites to check out
  • books/items that friends have borrowed
  • savings goals
  • fitness goals
  • beauty products/treatments to try

I keep all of my “me” lists in my planner so when I’m planning a shopping trip, organizing a movie night with friends or just deciding which book to read next I have the all close at hand. It makes my daily planning more personal and purpose-driven.

Looking to try this in your own life? Here’s some examples of some of the lists I have going now:

  • This is the time of year I like to review the list of all of the items I’ve borrowed off of friends over the year. (And by items I mean books. Check out what I’m catching up on this winter here.)
  • I don’t know anything about wine so I always consult my list of favourites before I go to the store; honestly, I draw a blank every time I get there.
  • A lot of conversations with friends these days involve TV shows they’ve been binge-watching on Netflix. I try to keep track of the titles mentioned so I always have something to watch instead of scrolling through the list of Netflix recommendations for an hour. (I think my next one is Vikings. What do you guys think?)

What are some of the lists that you keep about your likes and dislikes? Where do you store them? Are there any ideas for lists that I didn’t include here? Give me a shout below or let me know at keepingbusyb@gmail.com and I’ll add your list to my list of lists!

I’m always looking for the best ways to manage my time and workflow more effectively and efficiently. If you’re looking for more ways to increase your productivity as well, click here for more strategies that I’ve developed and researched and here for more ways to stay organized. For more ways to deal with your busy lifestyle, click here.

Stop Talking About What You Need to Do

I normally love the holidays but personal circumstances left me feeling a little low this past season. I found myself getting irritated a lot more easily with the people around me and the tasks I had at hand. Like many people, I was feeling overwhelmed and stressed out until I realized, there was nothing left to do. I was all set for Christmas. The stress that I was feeling was coming from other people and I was taking it on as if it were my own.

In fact, when I think back to the month of December, every time I felt frustrated or panicky was when I was talking to my friends and family about all of the things that were on our to-do lists.

I love my friends and family, obviously, and I love helping them out but I realized that talking about all of the stuff that needed to get done wasn’t actually helping anyone out at all. Not only was I subconsciously taking on other people’s tasks as my own, but we weren’t even doing any of the things that we said we were going to do. We were just talking about it.

And sure, it feels good to talk things out and get a clear picture in your head of what needs to be done. Or maybe you find it helpful to get another opinion about your plan of attack. But the more we talked about what needed to be done, the more we talked about it, and the more we put it off. Strategies were formed, dissolved and discussed over and over again. It felt like we were being productive and we weren’t. We were wasting precious time and it was making us even more stressed out.

Even though I don’t make New Year’s resolutions (at least, ones that stick), this year I’m enforcing a new rule on my life: do the s#&! you say you’re going to do. Don’t talk about it; just do it. (Nike has been saying it for years, so it must be true, right?)

I mean, we can still talk. It’s good to check in with friends and family, or to ask for help, even if it’s just organizing your thoughts. But let’s multi-task, shall we? The more we get done, the less we’ll have to discuss, and then just maybe we can talk about something fun- or we could just brag about how 2019 is going to be the best year ever!

What are some of the things that you’ve been talking about forever that just never seem to get done? This is the year we’re going to do it! Tell us all about your plans below or email me at keepingbusyb@gmail.com and let me know how it’s going.

I’m always looking for the best ways to manage my time and workflow more effectively and efficiently. If you’re looking for more ways to increase your productivity as well, click here for more strategies that I’ve developed and researched and here for more ways to stay organized. For more ways to deal with your busy lifestyle, click here.

My Dirty Christmas Trick

KBB_christmas_giftsHave you ever noticed that just before Christmas people seem to do more? You’re scrambling to finish projects at the office, you’re making plans to visit families and friends and meanwhile at your place, you’re cooking and decorating and shoveling your driveway all the while thinking, whenever am I going to find the time to do my holiday shopping?

I feel exhausted just writing about it so I’m going to have to share my dirty little Christmas secret:

I don’t do most of my holiday shopping during the holidays.

“Shut the front door!” you’re thinking. “You can’t possibly be one of those incredibly anal-retentive people that shop for Christmas during the rest of the year!” But I’m here to tell you that I totally am.

Don’t get me wrong; I love to shop during the holidays. But in reality, shopping just at Christmas time isn’t always feasible. Shopping year-round can make you less rushed and more organized once the holiday season hits. It also gives me a better idea of how much money I’m spending. It also allows me to keep track of the all the gifts I’m buying so I can be more careful with my money, which comes in handy when I get a little too happy after hitting up the eggnog.

As the holidays approach, there is a way to stay organized when it comes to your Christmas shopping and it involves just one simple thing.

Make a list!

Planning your shopping trip ahead of time is a lot easier than you might think, and it may spare you the hysterical feeling that sets in when you see how crowded the stores are. Here’s how I go about doing it.

Make It Enjoyable.

Sit down and get yourself into a Christmas mood! Pour yourself a glass of wine, put on some carols, or be a giant nerd like me and use red and green pens. Whatever. But you need to set aside approximately half an hour of time and it shouldn’t be right before you go out shopping. It also shouldn’t be on Christmas Eve.

Channel Your Inner Santa.

Make a list of people to whom you usually give gifts. There’s no feeling guilty- there is no hard and fast rule for deciding who goes on your list. Maybe you and your bestie have a rule never to buy each other anything, or you’re just really sick and tired of buying Great Uncle Sam a necktie every year. Either way, this decision is totally yours and it’s up to you to be realistic about how many (or how few) people you buy gifts for. Christmas is not just about gift giving.

Check Your Wallet.

Think about the gifts you bought last year. Jot down a number next to each person’s name. Remember, you’re not putting a price tag on your friendship with someone- this exercise is more about getting an idea of how much you’re going to be spending. I have found doing this step earlier in the year incredibly helpful as it gives me an idea of how much I have to save for Christmas and makes me think about starting to scout for good deals on certain items.

Be a Super Sleuth.

Go down your list, and start jotting down gift ideas next to each person’s name. Think about the hobbies, needs, or wants of each of the people you’re buying gifts for. Get creative. Don’t rule out things like gift cards, magazine subscriptions or charitable contributions where appropriate.

It may also be helpful to consider the needs of the person to whom you are giving a gift. If a friend has moved it may be a good idea to ask a few carefully worded questions to find out what they might need for their house. A well-traveled uncle may appreciate a new set of luggage tags, or a new address book complete with up-to-date addresses of family members. Try to remember events throughout the year- like that time when your mother lost her leather-driving gloves, or that movie your brother thought was awesome.

Search for online stores for people’s wishlists, or ask partners or siblings for suggestions. Sometimes when you’re particularly clueless, it helps to do a little detective work in order to find a gift that’s truly meaningful.

Ready, Set…Shop!

Now you’re all set to start your Christmas shopping. Just make sure you tuck your list in your wallet or Filofax when you go, or send it in an email to yourself to keep track of it on your phone. Make notes as you about where you spotted certain items so you comparison shop, or jot down other ideas as you find inspiration in the stores.

And don’t worry about getting every item on your list- after all, there’s always next year!

Looking for more solutions to keep you organized over the holidays? I’ve got some more here. Or comment below and share with us your secret on how to stay sane during this busy time of year!

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