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identifying needs, making to-do lists, architect on demand, advice without strings

Identifying needs is not the same as making to-do lists. Recently, I was asked by a reporter to suggest 5 home decor/design projects that “can make a big impact without much effort.” She was going to mention my downloadable how-toBooks in a story on “how making to-do lists can help organize time which then makes it easier to organize everything else without adding more clutter.”

When making to-do lists, you are eliminating the necessity of thinking about it twice

At first, I thought her question was impossible to answer. How can you approach a design project as a chore? To-do lists are very handy for running errands. Just like with a list of ingredients for a recipe, you have to make sure not to forget anything. When making to-do lists, you are dealing with the familiar.

When identifying needs, on the other hand, you don’t pretend to know the outcome ahead of time

The trick is in allowing yourself to keep things unresolved or open-ended. You are asking questions and are giving yourself time to answer. You let your thoughts and feelings simmer by putting together a mood board or a collage. Identifying needs with mind mapping is another way.

Fine. One more thing really bothered me about the assignment. How can anyone “make a big impact without much effort?” As far as I know, if you expect anything worthwhile, making a big effort would be the first and the last item on all of your to-do lists. How can I think of it differently?

What if I suggest a list of attributes a productive day should have? How about a recipe for a day conducive to creativity? I just read a lovely blog post that encourages all of us to feel content in the present moment. It supports my point of view that life is not about aspiring to be better but about appreciating what we have.

Here is my “identifying needs” list of 7 things every day needs to feel complete

identifying needs, making to-do lists, architect on demand, advice without strings

  1. A little bit of love
  2. A little bit of beauty
  3. A little bit of nurture
  4. A little bit of inspiration
  5. A little bit of peace and quiet
  6. A little bit of adventure
  7. A little bit of a challenge

Blissfully, I had a chance to check off all of the items on this list yesterday. I decided to have a diversion and went hiking. It turned out to be quite challenging — more than two hours of steep inclines on East Topanga Trail in the Santa Monica Mountains. Yet, it was invigorating.

Most importantly, I went with a friend. Our conversation filled me with a sense of compassion and love. We shared our thoughts with each other. I felt nurtured. I also felt deeply cared about when she was making sure that my jacket is on, and I am not going to catch a cold.

identifying needs, making to-do lists, architect on demand, advice without strings

The natural beauty around us was truly inspirational. I was pretending to be a photo-correspondent photographing twigs and broken-up slate uncovered under a thick layer of sand by the heavy rains. I marveled at the colors of “the mosaic” right under our feet.

For our late lunch, we were joined by another friend and ended up talking together for at least another two hours. Probably longer — I was not watching the time, which is in itself a real diversion!

In short, it was a wonderful day, the kind that makes a big impact, but is probably impossible to plan for when making to-do lists. On the other hand, while identifying needs, you can anticipate situations. You are giving yourself tools to envision an experience and then make it happen.


  • Mia Kazovsky
    January 14, 2016

    Firstly, what an inspired 7 item to-do list! I agree that every single day should be filled with all 7 of those points. I love reading about your hike! What a great challenge. I am very proud of you. Next time that I am in LA we can hike together. I always love to go hiking while I am in town. Secondly, “make a big impact without much effort” is an oxymoron in my book.Why would you not want to put a lot of effort into something that is going to be impactful? Thirdly: I am actually a big to-do lister. I think that the creative process can sometimes be extremely daunting. Having a grand, beautiful idea is second nature to a creative person, but having to make it come to life is another story. I like to use to-do lists as a tool to break down my creation process. I write out every step from my previous experience, but I do allow room for additions and adjustments. When I make a garment, for example, I like to make a list that goes like this: sketch, illustrate, swatch fabrics, drape, pattern, buy fabric, cut fabric, pin, sew, fit, adjust, press/steam. It is important for me to recognize that every step is equally important. This kind of break-down helps me to visualize the end goal and it helps the creative and meticulous sides of my brain communicate. This kind of planning allows me to be creative because the list lets me see that what I am about to embark on requires very much effort, but it is okay because bringing my creativity to life is the most impactful!

    • Alla DIY Ally
      January 14, 2016

      Wow! Mia. I am officially inviting you to be my guest on this blog! Thank you very much for your contribution! Love, mama.

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