The Zen of Making Lists

listsTrue confession. I’m a compulsive list maker. Every morning over the first cup of coffee, I transfer all of the must-dos, want-to-dos and don’t-want-to-dos from my head to a clean, dated sheet of paper in the spiral bound notepad that accompanies me everywhere. This ritual, which began early in my healthcare marketing career, serves to control the excess noise that sabotages personal productivity.

Once every exhaustive action is out of my brain and on paper, focus kicks in and the course of thinking, conferring, learning, creating and decision-making finds its natural flow.

This morning, even my list has lists – subcategories of activities needed to navigate work, home and holidays during this zany month of December. I gave up on the concept of “work-life balance” a long time ago. If you want to understand balance, You Tube Nik Wallenda’s high wire walk across the Grand Canyon or Chicago skyscrapers. It’s spellbinding – and nerve racking – to watch him balance life and death on a straight, thin wire perched somewhere between the heavens and a long fall to earth.

In real life, how does one create equilibrium between “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest?” Where balance is more about keeping the roller-coaster wheels on track than walking a tightrope? For me, making that daily list – and checking it off – is track maintenance.

So, one of the tasks on today’s docket is figuring out how to pack a single carry-on suitcase with the clothes and accessories needed to careen from work and leisure in chilly New York City to a family funeral in Virginia followed by a return trip to NYC and off to client work in sunny southern Florida – all in the next six days.

Balance? Only in my dreams. But I wouldn’t trade this wonderful, crazy life.

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