I’m a fan of to-do lists, of the sense of order and accomplishment they create. How simply jotting something down frees up memory space, along with the concern of forgetting to do it. My current planner is arranged nicely for this purpose, each day complete with two separate action lists: one for professional stuff and one for personal.
Just three short weeks ago that work list was extensive. It included things like daily gratitude (a practice that was, at the time, in its infancy), Facebook and Twitter post planning, brainstorming blog ideas and talking points for the next Write Way Wednesday video, and working on Book #2. More than all of that though, that list was alive with the promise of progress.
In my system, I use black checkmarks for completions, green dots for things I worked on but didn’t quite finish, and red dashes for the items I didn’t get to, those needing to be carried over to the next day. Looking at that Monday back in March I noticed there were more checkmarks than dots or dashes.
That day marked the start of the second week that my husband was working from home. The second week that we were encouraged to stay in as much as possible. As an introverted writer who already spends a great majority of her time at home, I was not prepared for how much this change would affect me.
I did not anticipate the roller-coastering emotions that would leave me weepy and lethargic and unproductive. I did not foresee the dwindling to-do list checkmarks or that some days my expectations for myself would be as low as my energy and the list would diminish to almost nothing.
But even on the days when my motivation wanes and my productivity withers, one thing has remained at the top of that to-do list: gratitude. And now that I’m four weeks into what has become a habitual practice, I realize how important it has been. How much I have depended on that small, daily dose of thankfulness to give me perspective, to uplift my spirit, to fuel my hope.
So if your energy is lacking, your patience worn thin, and you feel as if you can give nothing else of yourself today, I encourage you to give thanks. Find just one thing for which you are grateful and write it down, hold it close to your heart, and embrace it.
This may seem an impossible task during these relentless days of sameness, but it is the slowed down nature of life right now that is affording us the opportunity to notice more, appreciate more, and be more present. Though there is so much unknown and so much that is out of our control, what we do hold is the power to open our eyes, lift up our hands, and offer to God our greatest prayers of thanksgiving.
What are you grateful for today?