Home > Burnout, Jean > DITCH THE LISTS!



Okay, why is there a photo of beautiful Stonington harbor in a blog about not letting lists run our lives? Because this is where I live, and when I free myself from the “must’s”, “should’s”, and “gotta’s”, I can sit quietly and look as the harbor fills with boats.

A little background. Come late fall, most of the boats are gone. By December it’s empty as the cold winds sweep through. But here we are in May, and the boaters are a hopeful bunch and are busy getting ready for the summer season. It’s like a migration and the tall masts are back, swaying in the spring breeze.

We talk a lot about mindfulness and how important it is to be present. And those of you who have attended my “Stop Burnout!” talks, know it’s a powerful stress buster. But here’s the catch for me. I’m a doer, a list maker, and I love the satisfaction of checking things off my list. And the things I don’t get done are like mosquitoes–they follow me around, they buzz in my ear, they demand attention. But yesterday as I walked my dog, Bella, I made a conscious decision to ditch the lists, to stop and smell the lilies of the valley that are growing at the side of the road, and when we got to a huge boulder, we climbed up it and sat in the sun. We stopped. We weren’t in a hurry.

I gave a talk to a group of high school seniors on Monday, and I asked them how many of them either rush into school just as the bell is ringing or are late? All the hands went up. I then challenged them to get to school ten minutes early for a week. To do it and pay attention to how they feel. How does that relaxed time change the whole day? How does not being in a rush foster kindness?

Yeah, I know, most of them won’t try, but maybe you will. Maybe, like me, you’ll find some special moments where the lists are in the background, out of the way. Give it a try!

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  1. Linda
    May 17th, 2017 at 09:16 | #1

    Good point Jean,

    And some high school students actually do come to class early – even when school starts at 7 or 7:30 am, which is pretty remarkable.

    Only downside is, they don’t always leave time for breakfast, “the most important meal of the day.” So I allow them a few minutes to grab a muffin from the cafeteria. Otherwise, it won’t be a productive day for them. And I see them perk up quickly.

    • Jean
      June 7th, 2017 at 11:53 | #2

      It’s amazing what a difference it makes. I’m now so used to it that I feel weird if I slide in “on time.”