Life today requires constant attention to an unending flow of busy work––things to sort and file and mail and pay and follow up on. Our paper piles reproduce like rabbits. To stay on track and remember everything, we have to have lists. (Some of us, with chemo-brain or A-G-E, have a lot of lists.)

I live out in the woods. When I go in to town, I always have a list of errands to run. Trying to get all of that taken care of is tiring. The errands are tedious and boring. I have other things I’d rather be doing. I feel like a mouse on a wheel.

One day I ran into a friend who was also running errands. She mentioned that she was doing some of the “fun” things on her list first. Fun things? I assumed she was getting her tasks done so she could go for a walk or sit by the lake. She said that she does that, too, but she divides her list into Work items and Fun items. I imagined that her list would be just like mine––90 percent Work. But when she showed me her list, it had a few Work items on it and the rest were all under the Fun column.

I wanted a list like that! I asked her what those Fun items were, and she read off a bunch of the same things that I had on my list, which were all Work. Wait. What?? It turns out that she divides her list into two columns. She chooses some items that would usually be considered Work and puts them on the Fun side. She actively considers what might be fun about doing each of those things. That way, she has a better attitude while she is doing them. She is looking for fun!

Tasks are work, but they’re rarely 100 percent work. What if I could infuse a work activity with 20 percent more fun and enjoyment? How about 50 percent? What if I just went ahead and put something in the Fun column, and then figured out how to have a good time with it? Sure, it’s “only” a matter of perspective, but the effect on my outlook and energy would be huge!

I gave it a whirl. It wasn’t easy. Habits don’t change overnight and I had to make a note to even remember to do it the new way. Turns out, it is fun. Instead of whipping through the grocery store, I look for weird things on sale and think about new foods I could cook with them. Even the gas station offers an opportunity to socialize with people I know.

It just goes to show:  It’s not what you see, it’s how you see it.