The List to End All Lists.

As many of you know, I am a fan of vocabulary & semantics.
(notice I said, “fan”, not “expert”)
I enjoy finding specific words that convey the exact nature of the point I am striving to make when communicating.

This weeks word is portmanteau. It describes a combination of two words.

Ha! You now think this article will be all about portmanteaus, don’t you?!
Well, it’s not.
And that’s good thing because I don’t really have anything exciting to say about portmanteaus.
That’s just that the word that came up when I was researching the origin of the word, listicle, of which I have a lot to say about.

Listicle, as it turns out, is a portmanteau.
It is a combinations of the words, “list” and “article”.
And I know you know what I am talking about here.
It’s those ubiquitous articles that have titles like,
5 Things You have to Do to Play Like Eddie Van Halen”, or
“Top 10 Albums of All Time
”, or
20 Reasons Why Your Guitar Playing Sounds like You’re Strangling Chickens”, or
These Four Simple Things Will Make Your Amp Sound Like Eddie Van Halen’s”, or
8 Awesome Sushi Restaurants in Eddie Van Halen’s Neighborhood”.
(Yeah, I know! He shows up in a lot of them, huh?)

These kinds of articles are designed for the attention span shortage that seems to be prevalent in our modern times.
I must admit, I like them because they are concise & quick to read & very informative… most of the time, that is.
I not a huge sushi fan but I would probably go to a sushi restaurant if I thought there was a chance I could run into Eddie.

So what’s the point here, you ask?

They give focus to our busy lives.
They can help us stay organized & productive…. with tasks, party invites, groceries, etc.
They can also help us obtain an overview that provides an advantage in pursuing our goals.

There is a thing called “terminal vagueness” and it contributes a lot to how we end up spinning our wheels so hard but end up not feeling like we are making progress.
Eliminating this vagueness & getting in control of our lives is key to becoming more productive.
Lists can help with this.

Lots of guitar players make a list of all the things they practice.
This Practice List includes all the different things you are working on when you sit down to practice your instrument.
It is a simple, yet effective, way to keep track of & manage the different subjects concerning musicianship skills.
This in turn helps you manage the time it takes to practice each subject so you have a realistic idea of what you can accomplish in a given practice period.

But what if you made a list of everything else?
I mean, as in everything you do in your life on a regular basis.
What would that look like?

I want to propose to you that you create your own personal Life Activities List.

Write out every single thing that happens in your regular daily/weekly/yearly life.
And I mean everything.

It doesn’t necessarily have to be in any kind of order, but it should be all inclusive.
It is merely a list of any & all activities that you ever do with your time.
It is suppose to be more of an inventory rather than a schedule… you are not assigning time frames to anything here.

Here’s mine…

• Sleep
• Eat
• Hygiene
• Exercise & Health
• Spiritual Practices / Meditation
• Relationships
– significant other
– family
– friends
• Develop Musicianship Skills
• Composing
• Self-Education
– read books,magazines
– listen to audio books
– watch videos online courses
– web research
• Service
– community service
– charity work
• Running 99
• Phone calls
• Email
• Texts
• Other Business/Music/Education Projects
– I have a few other projects I am involved with that requires consistent attention & effort.
• Administration
– bills
– finances
– misc upkeep
• Errands
– appointments
– groceries
– pharmacy
– get gas in the car
– doctor appts
– hair appts
– miscellaneous
• Social Interaction
– phone calls
– visits
– facebook /twitter
– coffee with friends & family
– family events
– friend’s performances
• Chores
– laundry
– clean loft
– dishes
– take out trash/recycle
– clean Cheeto’s litter box
– household maintenance
• Guitar & Gear Maintenance
• Relaxation
– Quadrant Two, for you Stephen Covey fans)
• Vacations
– This is important! A balanced life you must live, oh grasshopper.
• Catastrophes & Emergencies
Not trying be morbid here, but shit happens.

There is something about seeing everything at once like this. It allows you to really see all the things you do that eat up all your time. As you know, it’s that little stuff that does it… the chores, the errands, the appointments. And perhaps “eat up” isn’t the right choice of words… I do not wish to participate in the easily adopted notion of life being a constant struggle. It certainly requires consistent effort to achieve anything you wish to accomplish, however let us keep this in a positive place.
Can you look at everything on your list & feel good about it?
This is a personal thing, of course.

A Life Activities List gives you a true feeling for what you are doing with your life. It enables you to make decisions about how you spend your time. This, in turn, gives you the sensation of being at cause of your life instead of being at effect of it.

I also suggest you make this an on-going project in that you will find that you will add things as you go along that you didn’t think of. Don’t feel like you have to think of everything in one sitting. By the end of a few weeks, you should have a fairly complete list of all the activities in your life.

If being successful in life involves time management, then you must know the specifics of what you are managing. So I am suggesting here that you start thinking of your time as a resource that needs to be managed in order for you to be effective with your efforts. Then it becomes all about figuring out what time you can afford to spend where.

With this awareness of how you spend your waking hours (and non-waking hours)  you can more easily create a time budget, which will greatly aid you in creating you daily/weekly/monthly schedule. I’ve already mentioned this approach a ways back in my article, “It’s Not About Finding the Time to Practice…

Hey, we all know that the more time you put into any person project, the more progress you will make. Got it.
So start with taking an inventory of your time commodities. That’s where this list comes in. You don’t have to look at it everyday, but you know you have it and referring to it now & then helps you be present.

It’s pretty straightforward, yet everyone I have had do this exercise experiences a profound shift in perception of just what exactly they are doing with their lives.

In order to create change in your life, you have to start with awareness. The level of self-awareness this little exercise provides is stunning.
And this self-awareness will enable you to make daily choices that keep you on your desired path.



Cheeto is happy he made it on the list.


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