It’s my favorite time of year. The time when all list makers shine. It’s list lover’s paradise.
It’s the few weeks before Pesach.
Little Yellow Notepads fly off the shelves like hotcakes.
It’s before the work starts. The time when all you can do is make lists. And a lot of them. One for every room. One for every day. One for every child. One for every meal. The possibilities are endless! And I bask in the glory of making precise and comprehensive lists… before reality hits and I’m reminded that I’m the one who needs to complete the myriads of tasks that I came up with.
But I’m not thinking about that yet.
Let’s talk lists. The aim of the game is divide and conquer. Divide-into lists. And conquer-get it done one list at a time.
I start with the fun ones. I make a column for each of my kids on a fresh sheet of my newest Little Yellow Notepad, that thankfully Sam’s Club sells in bulk.
First I scan the closets; I finally give the stuff a close look; white shirts with unidentifiable marks and spots are condemned; into the trash. When my son insists it’s a “perfectly good shirt that he loves to wear!” I nod pretending to understand and casually tuck it under my arm to escort it to the land of no return. Likewise for pants with knee holes. It’s high time someone invented steel kneed pants for boys! Next I record what they need; 2 pants, 3 short sleeved shirt for boy 1, 2 shirts and undershirts for boy 2, boys 3&4 insist on wearing each other’s clothes so I have no idea what they need. And girl- well truthfully, she needs nothing, but shopping sure isn’t fun without some pink or lace or frills stuck in; a new Pesach dress it is. And the baby, I mark down what he needs too. Eventually hand-me-downs get worn out! Yarmulkas, tzitzis, socks and shoes.
List one is done!
Next I look through my print out of all my recorded notes from last year. Menus! I scan last year’s stuff and draft up proposed menus for 10 holiday meals.
Next page, we are onto quantity. List of total of each type of food I will make. I count the total tentative guests, sleepover and for meals, and do some quick math. 14 pesach brownies. 8 potato kugels. You get the idea.
I’m on a roll!
My adrenalin is running, I’m in master list mode. Time to start the lists of all shopping lists. It takes only 12 stores to get all I need! Cleaning supplies, kitchen supplies, meat, fruits, vegetables and more. An hour later, I have 12 lists made!
Volunteer list; what will I need help when preparing the community Seder for 80 people. I come up with the tasks and how many helpers I will need.
And the fun is just starting. Time for the cleaning task list.
I divide the house into groups of what needs to be done. Nothing is insurmountable. All broken down to small tasks
I can do this!
I figure out what my house cleaner can do. No, we won’t be cleaning every shelf and drawer or the ceiling; no distraction by spring cleaning. Only pesach cleaning. That means cleaning all the areas we use, feel and touch.
And the lists continue. Peeling list. How much of every fruit and veggie needs to be peeled, cut, sliced or shredded.
Guest list. Email list and phone call list.
Revise the lists. Consolidate lists.
And then my favorite. Plugging it all into the calendar. A paper calendar; for some reason my phone one isn’t as productive. Probably because its so simple to switch it off and pretend there’s nothing to be done, unlike the Little Yellow Notepad that glares when it’s ignored.
All is in place. My lists are ready.
All is divided by day. It’s all small tasks, just on some days more of them than on others. But most importantly, when I get stressed out or overwhelmed, it’s very specific. I only stress about that day’s stuff. No worrying ahead of time, I have specific days to worry about specific stuff.
But even more importantly is that I won’t get distracted. Because the truth is, when we get distracted, that’s when the stress comes in. No experimenting with recipes that aren’t on my list. That’s for a calm day in July. No cleaning boxes of keepsakes and spending hours lost in memory lane, that’s for a different day in July.
I’m exhilarated. I’ve done my dividing and when my list tells me it’s time, I’ll start to conquer!
And it really works. For anything in life. Most things are overwhelming when we have no plan. A plan is the difference of getting to the goal intact or, well, not intact. I’m a big believer of the old saying “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” It proves true every time.
So whenever my list says GO! I will start my tasks, with a firm and positive goal. A goal to enjoy Pesach, and the route I take getting there.