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List-Making for Mommies

From Crazy-Making to Listmaking

by Heather Cook (Writeonmama)  |  1901 views  |  2 comments  |        Rate this now! 

There are days in every mother’s life when she feels that she got nothing accomplished. When she lays in bed at night remembering all the forgotten tasks and vowing to remember them tomorrow. I’ve learned to combat this feeling by turning to my inner control freak and harnessing a little of her overzealous energy.

I’ve become a listmaker. Some people are predisposed to make lists (like me) but others need to learn. (Like, ahem, my husband...)

Listmaking does two things:

   1.     Makes a committment to yourself

   2.      Saves your brain memory and energy

Imagine your brain is an airport and you are the air traffic controller. You have planes circling and waiting for their time to land, you have planes getting ready to take off, planes sitting and waiting for passengers.

These planes are your tasks. Some are small, like remembering that there are shirts that can't stay in the dryer until the end of the cycle or they will wrinkle. Some are large, like a major project deadline looming. But while we devote a different amount of energy to each plane, each one takes up the same amount of space in our brain/airport.

By creating a list, we assign each plane its own space. A plane with no space for itself is taking up too much energy wandering around the airport while we think about it, talk about it and wonder when we're going to do something about it.

At first, my list looks small. Maybe three or four items. But I add duties as they come to me. I’ve spent more than one diaper change repeating “call Jodie, put it on the list”, so I don’t forget it by the time the baby’s pants are clean and changed. Then, rather than spend time thinking about the things I don't want to forget or trying to remember what I have forgotten, I just remember to write it down and check the list several times a day.

Even better, I get a little jolt of satisfaction every time I check something off my list. It’s the simple action of placing a checkmark beside an item that reminds me I accomplished something today.

At the beginning of each day, I go to the previous day's list and transfer my 'incompletes' to my new list. Because they are right at the top, they often get the most attention.

My family, even my six year old son, are trained to ask “did you write that down?” or “is it on the list?” because they know that mommy’s list is vital to the success of the household. It’s why they have warm suppers and clean underwear.

What’s on your list today?

About the Author

Heather Cook (Calgary, Alberta) is a mother of two and and works inside and outside the home. You can find her online at

Read more by Heather Cook (Writeonmama)

2 comments so far...

  • I like looking at the list after I've accomplished things on it. I call it the "Ta-da!" list when it's done.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Daisy on 26th October 2007

  • I am a list maker as well!! My husband jokes that I make lists for lists. You had some great tips that I will use to help when I make my next list.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Syndi on 14th September 2007