NaBloPoMo Day 6: The Checklist, A Year Later

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Regular readers of this blog know that I struggle with a series of both physical and mental illnesses. There’s a lot to track, there’s things I try to do to improve my situation, and my memory isn’t what it once was. (One of the side effects of many mental illnesses is that memory can become somewhat impaired.) In order to keep track of these things, as well as my vitals that I should be recording throughout the day, I use two Moleskine notebooks. One is squared, like graph paper, and in that I track both my day-to-day activities and my vitals. In the other, which is lined, I write my master to-do list so that I remember to do tasks that aren’t of an everyday nature, things like tweaking the budget or cleaning the refrigerator; I also jot down the good things that happen to me throughout the week for me to recount on my Sunday blog posts (something that I committed to do in a past blog post, but haven’t yet done – I should be correcting that in a couple of days).

I’ve had this checklist system in place for a year now, and I thought I’d report how the first year went.

I started the system on October 24, 2014. I’d skip a day or two here and there from the beginning until January, when I skipped a week straight. In early February, I took almost three months off from tracking my activities, with only a three-day span in April where I was “on book.” I returned to the system in May and only missed one day from then until early August, when I started skipping a day here and there, missing as many as five in a row at one point, through late August, when I took about three weeks off and came back in late September, missing only the last nine days of October. The longer drops in compliance were always due to an imbalance in my medication. My track record on my vitals ran just about even with the checklist itself, missing a reading here and there throughout the year in addition to the days-long gaps reported above, with the exception that I haven’t missed so much as a single reading since late September.

I’d guess my compliance on this system is somewhere between 60 and 65 percent over the past year, which is considerably better than any previous life organizational system I’ve ever used. I’m starting to enjoy the feeling of flipping through past days in both the squared and lined books to see what I’ve accomplished and to remind myself that I’ve put a lot of effort into trying to be compliant with this self-imposed system. The tactile feeling of turning through the full or nearly full pages is comforting, and I find myself doing it often.

I hope that this coming year I will remain “on book” more than I have been so far. Ideally, I wouldn’t miss anything, but that’s not realistic – eventually something will slip through the cracks. The idea is to accept my imperfect self just as I am and not berate myself for not being flawlessly compliant with this system.

And therein lies the hard part – making sure I’m okay with the job I’ve done over these past twelve months, and not obsessing over the bobbles I’ll have in the future.

So far, I’ve done a pretty good job. When I was on my streak of perfectly compliant days not too long ago, I knew that one day it would come to an end, and I was okay with it happening. I hope next time I’m just as easy on myself as I was this time.

As for now, my body is telling me it’s time to get some rest, so I’ll wrap up for now.

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