The SIX Things List….will Change Your Life!

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The SIX Things List….will Change Your Life!

six things 002
At least that’s true….according to Ivy Lee, who told Charles Schwab, a steel baron, over a hundred years ago to do this.   I was so intrigued by this story which I just ran across  while reading 31 Days to Clean: Having a Martha House the Mary Way (I highly recommend it!). 
I can’t remember which chapter now, but I was intrigued by her mention of this story.
So of course, I clicked on the link. 
I LOVE lists! I don’t necessarily like doing what is on the lists..but I love making them. (Yes..I know..unproductive.) In fact, I told you all about my idea of the BIG list…garnered from Don Aslet’s “How to Have a 48 Hour Day” only last Monday. 
This idea..of doing the BIG job first and letting the smaller tasks work themselves into the schedule in the ‘blank’ time slots of the bigger job, definitely WORKS. No question.
big list 2-2000
But it does get a little bit discouraging to have a whole list of nothing but BIG jobs.  Item no. one on my list, took two whole days. Item no. 2 took a day. One of the items, quilting Aunt Joan’s quilt, could easily take a week!
It’s great to have a list of the BIG jobs for reference as your long term goals for the month, but as far as getting everything organized for the day..and sticking to the tasks at hand, it’s not quite as helpful.
Lee told Schwab that he could GUARANTEE a dramatic increase in the efficiency of Schwab’s company by having only a fifteen minute meeting with each of the department heads of his company.  He told Schwab to pay him whatever he thought the idea was worth at the end of three months.
finances done
What was this amazing secret?
Ivy Lee: "I want you to promise me that for the next ninety days, before leaving your office at the end of the day, you will make a list of the six most important things you have to do the next day and number them in their order of importance."
Three months later, Schwab gave Lee a check for $35,000.00 dollars! This, at a time when the average worker was making $2.00 per day! You can read the rest of this
Would this work for me? I hoped so! I’ve been plagued with a tendency to procrastinate for several years now…and I was so tired of it. These tasks  weren’t mindless unimportant things like sweep the floor or sort the mail. 
They were things like write your mother-in-law, send a graduation gift to a niece, pay an important bill, protest my property taxes, get a child registered for college classes—important stuff--things that matter!
grad gifts
Not doing these things…letters, birthday gifts, thank you notes, cards…all affected relationships in my life. They mattered a LOT and I wanted to change this.
The Sin of Omission
It isn't the things you do, dear, It's the things you leave undone….    That gives you a bit of a heartache at setting of the sun.
The letter you did not write. The flowers you did not send, dear,  Are your haunting ghosts at night.
The stone you might have lifted out of a brother's way,   The bit of heartsome counsel You were hurried too much to say.
The loving touch of the hand, dear,  The gentle, winning tone Which you had not time nor thought for with troubles enough of your own.
Those little acts of kindness So easily out of mind .Those chances to be angels Which we poor mortals find-
They come in night and silence, Each sad, reproachful wraith When hope is faint and flagging And a chill has fallen on faith
For life is all to short, dear, And sorrow is all too geat, To suffer our slow compassion That tarries until too late;
And it isn't the thing you do, dear,
It's the thing you leave undone
Which gives you a bit of a heartache
At the setting of the sun."
Margaret E. Sangster
I don’t know how busy your life is..but mine gets positively frantic…at times and other times..I just get in the ‘don’t wanna do it’ mood!  I needed a way to stay focused and on track without losing sight of the ‘big picture’.  After experimenting with this method for the last week, I’m convinced that this is life changing!
tim and I holding hands
I feel so much more light hearted and cheerful! Things I’ve been putting off for way too long, and that have caused needless guilt, and even undermined relationships…are getting done left and right.
It’s wonderful!  I feel like a new woman with all of these ‘tasks’ cleared off my plate. And the feeling of being able to bless my friends and relatives is even more rewarding. I want to be faithful in these supposedly ‘little’ things.
big list
I finished almost everything on my ‘big list’ from last week, and handled several unexpected crisis.
Today, I’m looking forward to a productive and guilt free week of getting things done…in an orderly manner. It feels great! I’ve still got some big tasks ahead of me..but everything that involved people is done for the most party. I can’t remember feeling so good about life as I do now. 
Pizza, Rebekah, Tiger 025-2000
I’ve sent gifts, cards, letters, packages, paid all the bills, got the laundry caught up (got behind while hosting company), and got some decluttering done. 
I also made a big yummy meal for hubby for Father’s Day and had company. Plus we spent Saturday in Galveston and had a great family outing.
Every day, I wrote down the six most important things I needed to get done…then ordered them in terms of importance.  Here’s my list for today….
    • See if we have pint size jars in the shed for a friend’s project. #3
    • Ship packages and cards (Bdays, Father’s Day, Graduation).  #1
    • Drop by Wachovia to discuss Dad’s financial records. #5
    • Take car by AutoZone to pinpoint reason for ‘check engine light’ (Needs inspection!) #4
    • Call DILs and get birthdates and locations for their pass on to MIL for genealogical records. #6
    • Research Tapestry program for home school meeting on Tuesday. #2
Pizza, Rebekah, Tiger 026-2000
Now, you are supposed to number them in order of importance. (See above.)  I write my list on a BIG piece of colorful paper so I won’t miss it. Some of these things are ‘steps’ to getting some of the jobs on my BIG list done.   Most BIG jobs can be done in little steps.
Most jobs make it to the top of the list because they relate to MONEY or they are URGENT…or they matter to PEOPLE.   You don’t see laundry, start supper, hang the large picture in my bedroom, or water the hydrangea on this list.   Those things can be done in ‘little bits’ of time. :o)  (Unless the laundry is WAY behind of course.)
I’ve been doing this for days..and now I feel weird. Nothing is ‘shouting’ at me. This is good! We want to live in a peaceful and orderly manner don’t we? Of course.   
For the first time, I actually feel like I’m getting ‘ahead’ of the eight ball instead of running frantically away from it.  I can face my kids and friends with peace in my heart. I’ve done the things they were relying on me to do (or expecting me to do.)
I hope this idea helps you be a more successful homemaker. There’s no reason our work should be stressful…nor fill us with guilt. Doing what we ‘ought’ to do when we ought to do it can give us a whole new outlook on life.
Try this ‘Six things list’ this week, and see if it doesn’t help you get over the hump of those ‘undone’ tasks that are gnawing at you like a burr under your saddle. :o)
31 days to clean
  Next week, I’ll talk more about the 31 Days to Clean ebook…a must have for any homemaker! (I won this in their giveaway! Thanks Sarah Mae!)
Let me know if you decide to try this list out…  Are you a list maker? Or not…
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claudia b said...

I like this, Donna! Much more manageable than my 50-bullet-point lists!

Donna said...

Oh my..yes!

Amy said...

Six things--how freeing, and I imagine much more productive. Thanks:)

Julia said...

I am a list maker too. I'm guilty of making them and not ever looking at them again, though. I am inspired to try to do better.

GlorV1 said...

Six things huh?? Hmmm. Actually I think it's a great idea. I do make lists but not all the time. I will write the list today and start it tomorrow. I just finished watching Julie and Julia again. This must be the 10th. time I;ve watched it...or more. Have a great week.

Myra said...

May Kay Ash (Mary Kay Cosmetics) advocated using 6 things list for consultants. She credits that story behind it.

Kathy said...

#1 Tell Donna how grateful I am to have found this blog. DONE
#2 Organize my nightstand. DONE
#3 Make brownies to send to my son.
#4 Combine all lists: purse, kitchen, console of truck, nightstand, etc. DONE
#5 Read this blog until bedtime.
#6 Tell God how grateful I am to have found Donna's website.
♥ Kathy

Donna said...

Oh my goodness Kathy..You just made me laugh out loud. :o) How sweet of you to say all that. I'm embarrassed! (grin)


Donna said...

I want to see Julie and Julia again. The real blog Julie wrote is still available to the public and is hilarious..but my goodness..she sounds like a be forewarned! :o)

Trudy said...

I am a list maker whose list never gets done. I'll have to give this a try. Hope you share more tips from that little book. Thanks, Donna.

Kathy said...

Certainly didn't mean to embarrass you! I just call it like I see it and your blog is
G R E A T! (Say that like Tony the Tiger...)

Maria Killam said...

I loved that email you sent me Donna, thanks so much! Love the sweet personality you have that comes through on all your blog posts, this one was so lovely, the way you spelled it out, I seriously need to take this on too!

Trudy said...

I wrote down my six things and only got two done. Oh, well. I'll have to try again tomorrow. I'm either busy running after my three year keeping him from climbing on everything and cleaning up his messes or just plain too tired. I'm really slowing down now with only 7 to 8 weeks left to go in my pregnancy.

Breathing In Grace said...

The baskets look great, Ms. Donna. You NEVER cease to amaze me with all you get done...sometimes I need a nap after I read your posts!! ;-)

the⋆silver⋆of⋆His⋆fining said...

Yes, a list person. I have a blog related to this topic. It helped me get organized to a point, still struggle with some things (see today's post at
As I'm reading your post I'm thinking just doing the post would be one of the six things on my list!
I have six categories every day and add two or three specific things as needed, and may miss one or two categories. It's a good guideline. Trying to get balance in how I use the time God gives.
Great post!

Jill said...

Great post Donna! Somehow I lost the link to your blog and have missed reading along. I have wondered how you are and how your move was going, I guess I will have some catch up reading to do!
Glad all is well! Now off to tackle my to-do list! LOL


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