Since getting back to Miami, life has been a little hectic. Between appointments, errands, and overall LIFE my brakes for beauty have been non-existent the past two weeks (not to mention the incessant rain that has made venturing out dismal!). But that’s life and after missing a week of updates, I realized the lack of “brakes” deserves as much attention as the actual “brakes”.
Sometimes, there are days or weeks or even months that thing after thing after thing pops up and people get stuck on autopilot. I personally jumped from task to task and even though I probably did have moments that I could have fit in a moment of reflection through blogging or journaling (or even just sitting by the pool to clear my mind) – I didn’t. Instead I decided that I deserved a chance to “relax” and plopped myself in front of the TV to binge watch movies (and Orange is the New Black). And you know what I realized these past two weeks? After not taking a true moment for myself (TV is a distraction not introspection) – my anxiety has increased, sleeping has decreased, and my overall mood has been for lack of a better word – crappy. And every day THIS is what popped into my head:
Every day that I didn’t take a moment to sit and meditate/reflect was a choice I made because I felt that I was “too busy”. But when I look back on the week (even though I did accomplish a lot of personal tasks), I realized that I could have better delegated my time to refocus on the simpler things of life. I think it would have kept me more positive as I looked into tree removal services or ran to the store to buy cat food for some new furry neighbors that were abandoned when their owner moved (sometimes I really dislike people). Even though these were two things I wasn’t expecting to deal with, life happened and I had to adjust accordingly.
And to adjust accordingly? This is where the beauty of the to-do list comes in! It something I personally use on an everyday basis. Unfortunately, I never wrote “blogging” or inserted an outdoor activity – thus neither of those things happened. Although not the most spontaneous or romantic thing a person can do, scheduling in activities is sometimes what people have to do. Otherwise (and I am going to re quote myself here) “there are days or weeks or even months that thing after thing after thing pops up and people get stuck on autopilot”. You would be surprised how much time passes and you never did half of the things you told yourself you would. After realizing that a few years ago, I integrated to-do lists into my life.
When I write my lists, I personally bullet journal. Here is a link to introduce you to this concept. My journals are personally not so artsy (who really has time for that?!). Instead, every night I sit down and make out a list of things I want to accomplish the next day. Then I make boxes next to the tasks and (using whatever symbols I designate) I either cross them off the to-do list, move them to another day, or keep it as an ongoing task. I do not designate time slots for each objective since my days usually have a lot of unknowns. As long as I accomplish the task within the day, success! Personally, this works really well for me and I feel like I accomplish a lot more than the average person on a daily basis (at least that’s what some people tell me). The beauty behind the to-do list is that it also works well for depression. I know, that was a complete 180.
The reason why I want to write about the to-do list as a tool for depression is because I know a number of people who have benefited from this technique. In the off chance someone reads this and it also helps them, then mission accomplished. Rather than doing a bullet journal the way I do (which can be very overwhelming for someone who doesn’t want to get out of bed), I recommend breaking the day into hour segments. For example: 9 am – 10 am; 10 am – 11 am; 11 am – 12 pm; 12 pm – 1 pm; etc. Once the list has been broken down, write one task that you want to accomplish within that hour slot. It can be as simple as: 9 am – 10 am, get dressed; 10 am – 11 am, do laundry; 11 am – 10 am, clean bathroom; etc. Unless you or a loved one have suffered from depression, you may not realize how difficult these everyday tasks can be for someone who is struggling. This technique may give you (or him/her) enough structure to maintain daily life activities as he or she gets the appropriate help. This can also be broken down into 15 minute intervals, more complicated tasks, etc. To-do lists are meant to be personalized to maximize efficiency – do what works for YOU.
Although people are bound to have “off” days or weeks (like I just had), what ultimately matters is that they get back on track. When I take time for introspection and meditation (two very different things) I am healthier, happier, and sleep better. And until life stops throwing curve balls at me, I plan on using my to-do lists to schedule in a few moments to recharge myself! If to-do lists work for you, I hope you schedule in some down time as well!