The “Next Thing” List

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The Next Thing List |

Elisabeth Elliot is often quoted in homemaking blogs for her profound statement to “do the next thing.”  As homemakers, we easily get overwhelmed by all we have to do, that we do nothing.  The exhortation to “do the next thing” is a good one, because it asks us to break free from this debilitating feeling by picking one thing and doing it.  It forces us into forward motion.


sometimes I don’t know what the “next thing” is.

I know I’m supposed to do the next thing, but there are so many “next things,” I don’t know where to start!

That is why I make a “Next Thing” List.

When life overwhelms and it seems hundreds of things are screaming for my attention, I make a list. I put everything that is in my head on paper. I look around me and write down everything I think needs to be done.  No holds barred.

And then, I decide.  What is the next thing?

It is easier for me to see what the next thing is rather than try to silence the screaming in my head long enough to think rationally and calmly.  I write it all down and then begin the therapeutic checking off of items as I do them.

This might explain why notepads make me giddy.  If only I could keep them out of the hands of doodling toddlers!

So, what’s your next thing?

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13 Comments on The “Next Thing” List

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13 thoughts on “The “Next Thing” List

  1. This is so me as well. I love yellow note pads. I feel flustered until I sit down and write out each and everything that is on my mind. Then some how magically I know what makes the most sense to do next, and what to do after that….and so on and so on. I guess it is because I am a visual learner. Seeing all the to do’s on paper works.

  2. When life has me stressed, when I can’t sleep at night from all the stress, when I feel like my brain is going to explode, I make a list. Once I have everything down, I can find rest and peace. Today on my list is to have school for the first time since my little girl was born almost 5 weeks ago. It is going well so far. We have started with bible and are now on to the other things that need to be accomplished. The dishwasher and washing machine are doing their tasks while the boys tackle their daily work and I help the oldest get started with planning his day. The oldest daughter is monitoring the younger boys with their daily binder so I can help the oldest boy. All of this while I have a little girl cuddled up on me. I think I just may be able to homeschool with an infant.

  3. My next thing list today looks like this: correct last Friday’s school lessons, get children started on schoolwork, pick-up books on hold at library, snuggle my toddlers, clean up the kitchen.

    I often make lists too and when I’m really overwhelmed I make a list of only three things to work on for the day. As I finish one I can add another, but having only 3 on my list helps me feel like I can manage better. I often keep a running list of odds and ends on my white board in the kitchen, where I can see them and work on them when I have a few extra minutes.

  4. I have lists for each day of the week to keep me going. There is nothing more satisfying than crossing off an item! Sometimes I even add something that I’ve done that wasn’t originally on the list just for the satisfaction of crossing it off. lol

  5. Hummm having a list might help my homemaking skills, cause sometime I feel like I running around the house like a headless chicken!!!! So my next thing could be figuring out what in the world am I doing and where am I going. But making sure that my precious little girls know that in all of this they are loved.

  6. LOVE to do lists :) I am going to make list now. Mondays always seem slightly overwhelming but exciting to me. Usually, the home is a little messier than usual, I get to plan what we me and baby will do that week, and I have a new cleaning focus from fly lady. It all gets me happy. =)

  7. This might sound completely funny, but what I am trying to do right now is focus and take one thing at a time. Like you, I have a new baby at home (baby number 4).. she is 4 weeks old and oh so snuggly :) And while the world doesnt stop because of a new little one, it is one of the miracles that gives me so much joy.. yet newborn babes dont last very long!! So… I am being intentional about putting that first on my list- intentionally focusing on her, holding her, praying for her.
    I tend to be a “big picture” person.. meaning I see so many big possibilities that my “lists” are nearly always leaving me dissatisfied as I rarely feel completion. So instead of making a list these days which leaves me, personally, feeling defeated, I have been praying and asking God to guide my days first thing in the morning and then I move forward. It generally takes me til nearly 10am to have all the kids ready, chores done, breakfast done, baby snuggled and fed, etc (and I still havent figured out how to make that go any faster…) sometimes I feel like by the time we are ready for our day, the day is done!!! But, I am intentionally trying to take one day at a time, one moment at a time, trusting God to guide me. Because, like I said, I am “big picture” so if I focus on one thing at a time in God’s plan it helps me keep my focus and stay on task with the little things that need to happen :)

  8. Did that this morning!! My head was swimming with to-do lists. So, I pulled out the dry erase board, and the kids and I are working through the list together! Happily for all of us, lunch is next on the list!!!

  9. calling the vet, after I check FB and email after another Monday of dwadling kids….then some quiet time, maybe a nap…what’s for supper? don’t know, really. but that’s how you have to roll. the next step, hopefully the right one, especially when you have a chronic disease like fibromyalgia, slow and steady and it all gets done somehow. all the dailys at least and maybe a weekly. thanks for the reminder!

  10. Would you be willing th share what your next thing list looks like? Is this a semi-petmanent list that you utilize to keep you on track daily? Thanks tor sharing.

    • It’s not a permanent list, but rather a list that is everything I need to do on the very day that is overwhelming me. So, it could look like:
      Make menu
      Make grocery list
      Read 1 chpt of book to kids
      Sew button on pants
      Pay bills
      Rearrange pantry
      And so and so forth…
      Then, I just look at it and decide what is either most important or most doable for me right at that moment. From there, I work through the list until I have it done! :)

  11. Love it! I love calendars about as much or more than I love notepads, but whenever I buy a new planner/pocket calendar I only end up using it a couple busy months out of the year and then it gets lost in clutter. Until this past year when I got the “On the Go: A Well-Planned Day Planner” from Home Educating Family Publishing. I love how each day gives me both a hourly breakdown as well as empty checkboxes, and weekly reminder spaces for shopping, projects, events, bills, etc. In the past I’ve also found keeping my running to-do list on a large whiteboard to be helpful.