How to Utilize Lists to Optimize Your Life and Training

Photograph by Jessica Lewis

          I am extremely type A. Seriously, it’s ridiculous. My friends call me the queen of organization, but it wasn’t always this way. Getting organized has been a long journey. Now that I finally have an effective system, I can reflect on what has gotten me there: Lists. Yes, they seem arbitrary, but they are anything but. Right now can be a frustrating time being off the mats, “stuck” in our houses. It can be hard to capitalize on this time we have and stay motivated. Try to reframe it as a gift of new found time. The power of lists is that they can help you optimize your life, especially during this challenging time. So, without further ado, here are a few lists that can change your mindset and help you to master quarantine. 

          Writing down your thoughts is a great way to get them out; it’s one of the main reasons why everyone talks about how freeing journalling is. It can help you process the mess of thoughts streaming through your mind, especially when you don’t have your usual outlets, like jiu jitsu. If journaling isn’t your thing, that’s okay. You can even use your phone notepad or an audio note to get out a list of worries. Don’t filter yourself, let it out. Once you do, you will feel better. It feels like you don’t have to worry anymore because your thoughts are down on paper. You don't have to worry about worrying. When you feel calm, it can be a great thing to come back to. Address your ideas and come up with solutions to them in some way to try and get peace.

          Never underestimate the power of to-do lists. Especially at this time, it can be easy to spend the whole day tucked in watching Netflix. Now, this is definitely necessary sometimes and it is important to give yourself time to rest, but writing down the things you want to accomplish can help you actually accomplish them. When you write things down, you tend to stick to them. It’s also a great way to keep organized and focused on important tasks. When things are uncertain, having a list of things you want to do is an awesome way to feel in control. And it feels great to complete tasks that you have been wanting to do; this is a perfect time to think about what you want to create or improve in your life. For example, maybe you’ve been meaning to make a list of jiu jitsu moves you’ve learned and organize it by categories. Maybe you’ve been wanting to do more yoga or try zumba. Maybe you’ve been eying new recipes to try. Maybe you’ve needed to prioritize self care and finally have a chance to do so. Doing those things, and crossing them off, gives a great feeling of accomplishment that really helps fuel you to stay motivated. 

          While this can be a very hard time, we must keep moving forward. No matter how slowly, moving forward is important. Another helpful list is one of things you want to do when things are back to normal. When you think to yourself I really wish we could go eat at my favorite restaurant, write it down! Be specific. This list will give you things to look forward to and you will have tons of fun things to do when you can finally step outside. I personally cannot wait to get back on the mat. First on my list is training with my jiu jitsu family at Practical MMA. It even keeps me motivated to stay in shape at home in anticipation of training again (so I don’t get my ass kicked). 

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          This next list has helped me the most. It can be damn hard to focus on the positives sometimes. But if we do not try to keep a positive attitude, we’re wasting a huge opportunity for growth. Every night before bed write down three positive things that happened that day. If you can’t write three, aim for one. It could be the bomb cup of coffee you made that morning or the fact that you did a few minutes of yoga. But chances are you’ll be able to think of more than just one. Right now all we can do is take it one day at a time. I found after doing this for 2 weeks, when I wake up and plan my day, I am automatically looking for a positive, fulfilling thing I can do. It reframes my mindset and helps me to change my perspective on the situation. This practice shows you how the joys of everyday life add up; it makes you feel grateful for what you have. It’s also a great habit to take into life post-virus to help you be more mindful and present.

          This is hard. It just is. Many of us feel like we’re going crazy not being able to leave the house, move our bodies, and see the people we love. We all feel lost without our usual escapes, like jiu jitsu. But we will get through this. We don’t know when this will end, but we know that it will. In the meantime, all we can do is try and use this time to be productive, stay positive, and learn to take care of ourselves again. In the end, your perspective shapes your reality. It is of utmost importance to stay healthy, both physically and mentally. While jiu jitsu may need to be put on hold, training your mind and body doesn’t have to be. Now is your chance to expand and bloom. 


-Written by Kate Christofano

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