I have always been a bit of a dreamer and not much of a planner. I have things I want to happen in life and I work towards them, but I don’t set myself a rigid time frame in which to achieve them. I would always get my work done well in advance and I have never missed a deadline, but I would never punish myself for taking a rest break or for having a night off. A running joke with my colleagues was always how messy my classroom cupboard was. If Jack and I go out for the day, he tends to plan ahead, whereas I’d happily meander around until I found somewhere to go or somewhere to eat. Unorganised is too strong a word to describe me, but I work well in chaos.
Something has changed in me, though. Since taking up writing full time, I have found that making a list of articles to write, emails to send, messages to reply to and things to share has really helped me. Without the list, I would have still achieved the things on it, but to see them written down in front of me and to be able to tick things off when I have achieved them has done wonders for my mental wellbeing.
It’s a strange thing to go from a highly structured job like teaching to a flexible one like freelance writing. I am in charge of when I take a break and for how long, what content I produce, who I work for and if there are days that I don’t feel inspired then I am allowed to step away from my job. As a teacher, I was going all day every day. I had a timetable to follow. My life was structured. I was in a routine. Now my day is however I want it to be.
Whilst this is liberating, the lists have really helped me keep control of my life, my goals and my workload. Sometimes it can be quite isolating to work alone and to not have peers to bounce off of, but my lists allow me to check my progress, keep track of where I am and make note of my achievements. My lists put me in charge of my week. They get me into a Monday mindset that allows me to focus on the week ahead and the tasks in hand. I cross things off only once I have achieved them and never write things down that I have already done purely so I can cross them off a second later to feel a false sense of achievement. My lists aren’t about things having to be done there and then – some of my projects run over a few weeks and that’s fine – but they are about a focused mindset.
There’s a unique happiness in knowing where you stand in life, what is expected of you and what you expect of yourself. Crossing things off, be it reply to an email or order this birthday card, provide you a sense of achievement. They show you that you are on the right track, the track that you yourself have set out and decided to follow.
The next time you feel like your world is little bit chaotic, sit down with yourself and make a list of things you want to do. Happiness comes from giving yourself that five minutes to focus your energy onto yourself and your priorities. Happiness is all around us, if we look for it. Write your list, complete your tasks, cross them off and smile.
One thing you should definitely add to your list is ‘to read all of The Good In Every Day’s blog posts’ – I promise you, that’s another happiness in itself 😉