To-do lists don’t really work for me. First, I put way too many items on them, so they end up seem more accusatory than helpful. Second, I write them on a scrap piece of paper (often the back of an used business envelope– hey, it’s environmentally friendly!) and then can’t find it after an hour or so. Yes, I’ve tried phone apps, too. But I much prefer (or at least think I prefer) something physical, something I can see easily.
There’s also a third, tougher problem: the hefty to-do list provokes fear and defiance, sending me running away from it in the direction of fun, relaxation, or anything that isn’t on the list. That is seriously unfortunate. I mean, a gal’s gotta do laundry, go to the library, buy groceries, etc. Keeping track of tasks big and small, work and home, physical and mental, does require (for me) a bit of documentation.
Enter the white board.
But, you might ask, isn’t this just another medium for the to-do list, which you’ve already gone on record saying you hate?
Why yes, that’s true. In the course of some recent coaching sessions with my friend Lisa, we also came up with an alternative to the to-do list: the menu!
I love menus. I mean, who doesn’t enjoy opening up that brightly patterned card stock, handed to you by waitstaff (remember waitstaff?), perusing the contents, and finding exactly what you didn’t know you wanted?
My current plan for organizing my eating and activity is white-board menu based. Here’s my eating one for this week:
It’s got literal menu items for me to cook, along with other info. I’m trying this out for the first time, so will report back on how it goes.
I’ve also made a white board menu for physical activity.
This whiteboard menu divides up workouts into cardio, strength and mindfulness. Under each heading are some common workout options for me. Each day I look at this and figure out what I want to do and/or have time to do. So far I’ve only done a few of these, but I love having the variety right there in front of me. I just realized I need to add “walking/hiking outing with friends”, as I’m doing one of those this afternoon.
What I love about the menu format is that I get to choose from options, which are laid out for me. I can see how I’m feeling, and pick from a lot of options. And all of these I can afford– they aren’t workouts I can’t do or find too much for me right now. Yay me! Yay Lisa (for coaching and helping me see this)! Yay white board!
I just bought another, bigger white board for work organization. I didn’t have one at home, and figure that this will be very nice to have (in addition to my other online work organizational tools.
For me, arranging to-do items as menu options on a dry-erase white board is helping me approach eating and activity with more agency, without feeling the tyranny of the to-do list. YMMV.
Readers, what tools do you use for organizing weekly workouts? Meal planning? I’d love to hear what works for you.