Absolute #6 – Start with a Good List

cover shotStarting with a good list and sticking to it is just like planning your work and working your plan.  Just the other day, my sister asked, “Are you ready for your graduation party?” Although I haven’t bought a thing or made any food, I said “Yes, I have my plan.” Which basically means I have a list of decorations I want and food I’m planning. I’ve ordered what I can ahead of time and now I just have to execute. The second part of the list is my calendar where I have a list of “To Do’s” each day. I will shop for decorations one week before and then the fresh food the day before the party.  All set.

So if you are a list maker, ask yourself, “Is it thorough and do I stick to it?” A prime example of this is when you go shopping. The point of a shopping list is to keep you on track and sometimes on budget. If you stray from the list with a lot of impulse purchases, you’ve really defeated the purpose. Take your time when making the list and think it through. Then trust it.

Likewise if you start your week or your day with a list of tasks you want to accomplish and then stray from the task at hand, the list does you no good. Obviously things come up that are not planned for, but if you refer back to the list and re-prioritize it on a daily basis, it still keeps your organized. And don’t fall into the habit of having a list of 100 things to do in one day. Assign a date and timeframe that is realistic, otherwise your list will overwhelm you. Make a list of big goals, and then make sure your daily tasks support those goals.

Packing for vacation is a great chance to practice your list making skills. I keep a standard list on my computer for going to the beach for one week. I list food and house items as well as personal things like clothing and sundries. When we pack, I give my kids the list: 4 shorts outfits, 2 bathing suits, books, chargers, etc. I sit with them as they pack so I know they won’t forget anything. Each year I change up the menu but I trust that the list will guide us from year to year. Many things on that list haven’t changed in 10 years.


So you don’t need a list of lists but make sure your lists are:

  1. Thorough
  2. Documented on your computer for re-use
  3. Prioritized
  4. Realistic
  5. Followed

Patriotic Christmas Shopping

I received an email the other day that really made me think. It was a little harsh but the message was good & timely so I’ve reprinted it here with my own edits and comments added. Author is unknown so I can’t give credit:

Each year as the holidays approach, giant foreign factories are kicking into high gear to provide Americans with monstrous piles of cheaply produced goods –merchandise that has been produced at the expense of American labor.

This year can be different. This year Americans can give the gift of genuine concern for other Americans. There is no longer an excuse that, at gift-giving time, nothing can be found that is produced by American hands.  Yes there is!

I was so glad to see on the internet the other day that Saturday Nov. 26th has been dubbed “Small Business Saturday.” You can celebrate by shopping local and supporting small businesses in your own neighborhood.

It’s time to think outside the box. Who says a gift needs to fit in
a shirt box, wrapped in foreign-made wrapping paper?

Everyone — yes EVERYONE gets their hair cut.  How about gift certificates from your local American hair salon or barber? Or a gym  membership?  It’s appropriate for all ages who are thinking about some health improvement.

And who wouldn’t appreciate getting their car detailed?  Small, American-owned detail shops and car washes would love to sell you a gift certificate or a book of gift certificates.

There are many family-run restaurants in your area– all offering gift certificates.  And, if your intended isn’t the fancy eatery sort, what about a half-dozen breakfasts at the local breakfast joint.  Remember, folks this isn’t about big National chains — this is about supporting your home town Americans with their financial lives on the line to keep their doors open.

How many people couldn’t use an oil change for their car, truck or motorcycle, done at a shop run by the American working guy?

Thinking about a heartfelt gift for mom?  Mom would LOVE the services of a local cleaning lady or a professional organizer for a day. I happen to know one who is offering a discount for gift certificates bought in December!

If you were looking for something more personal, local crafts people spin their own wool and knit them into scarves.  They make jewelry, and pottery and beautiful wooden boxes. Hit one of the many craft shows this November & December.

Plan your holiday outings at local, owner-operated restaurants and leave your server a nice tip.  And, how about going out to see a play or ballet at your hometown theater? Upper Darby Performing Art Center (www. Udpac.com) has several holiday shows in December.

Honestly, do you REALLY need to buy another ten thousand lights for the house?  When you buy a five dollar string of light, about fifty cents stays in the community.  Why not leave the mailman, trash guy or babysitter a nice BIG tip instead?

The Christmas shopping season doesn’t have to be about buying more for less, it can be about encouraging American small businesses to keep plugging away to follow their dreams.  When we care about other Americans, we care about our communities, and the benefits come back to us in ways we couldn’t imagine.  Besides, who needs more stuff? No one I know.

How do you feel about shopping local & small?