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Write it down

I’m Andrea Griffith, a.k.a. AG, a TV exec and writer based in Toronto, Canada. This newsletter is my joyful, fun experiment where I share what I use from my life as a producer for, you know, life. Thank you for hanging for a bit!

I love this time of year. If my morning routine allowed, I would weave tinsel in my twists. I would hit eggnog (k, dairy-free) every night. Visions of sugar plums? Nah. Try visions of a hooded green cloak cape for carolling. We’ve NEVER carolled, but I fancy the idea of my family wearing matching capes and impressing my neighbours with perfect Sound of Music pitch as our frosty breath forms heart-shaped puffs.

So. Into. It.

Leave it to my brilliant, Berlin-based sis to find the perfect word to describe the early joy (and oddly specific visions) that I have before the holidays - die Vorfreude, German for “the anticipation.” Not run-of-the-mill anticipation: the flavour of this word is joyful anticipation.

Vorfreude is used specifically for “advance joy” leading up to a big event or a big occasion, usually Christmas. Also wrapped up into it is nervousness, impatience, curiosity. All the trimmings. There is no direct English equivalent for this complicated, joy-rich, extended state.

Part two of my Vorfreude is the radiant possibility of a brand-new year. Year-end is when I start parsing out my goals, clarifying my intentions, and envisioning a vision board that I never get around to making. OMG, the vision board. Maybe in 2023.

I hit it this year with starting Yescessary. I started planning this newsletter over a year ago and I followed through. The timeline may slide, but if the goal is ever in your sights (vision board or not), you will get there. You will!

In this newsletter, I delve into a strategy that has been crucial for keeping track, two yescessaries, and a bunch o’ links.

  • 1 Idea - Write it down

  • 2 Yescessaries - Two tips on how I get my sugar together

  • 3 All My Yeses - Links to what I’m saying “yes” to right now

So great to have you here. Let’s gooooooooooo!

1 IDEA – Write It Down

When the kids were younger, Step suggested that we try his family’s way of treeing up - by getting a real Christmas tree. We had always decorated a cheap, artificial number. It was what I knew. Real tree? Say what? I was totally game.

Let’s fast forward past the Hallmark moments - kids giggling, cutting the tree, sipping hot cocoa topped with gooey marshmallows.

Now, we’re at the car trying to tie the tree to the roof. Step’s huffing, puffing, trying not to swear. My son’s “So hot” in his snowsuit. My daughter takes the cranky cue and starts hollering. It was a cringey, “I hope no one is recording this,” moment.

Come next December, we somehow blocked out the bad and were back up at the tree farm. After the smiley snow scenes, there we were in the car again, hollering, wailing, hot flashing with the cruddy string we grabbed as we rushed out the door.

Sound familiar?

Didn’t we say we needed a better tree tie system? What happened? Right. We forgot. More specifically, we didn’t have a method of remembering. We didn’t capture an idea when it came to us - the total opposite of what I would do at work.

Marquis-sized aha.

When I’m producing, I carry forward, improve, and follow through by writing ideas down. Proof of concepts, beat sheets, scripts, bibles, charts, emails; all ideas land in a correspondence or document to be used immediately or stored away for a post-mortem or even better, for next season.

But at home, I’d always say, “You know, we should really...” to myself, and what would happen? Nada boom bada, folks. Those thoughts floated away like dandelion fluff.

I made a change that day. I decided to value ALL ideas like gold or an extra hour of sleep.

I wrote it down. I knew we needed one of those things. I didn’t know what it was called, but I knew that my former DOP Dave had one and that’s how he strapped anything extra to his truck. And I needed to get one by November. I wrote it in a notebook. I have tons of notebooks, so I identified one to be my commonplace book, my idea catcher.

Come November, I found the mystical fastener - a ratchet set. Luckily, Step’s handy, so he figured it out lickety-split. Post hot chocolate and homemade cookies, we were sailing down the highway. Win.

Now we write down what we need, what we want to do, what we want to track, replicate, or eliminate at home. We have a better system to remember what we want to remember.

There’s tons of research on how writing something down helps brand it to your brain. I’m not breaking new ground or offering you basic sugar. I believe that we don’t reference ourselves enough. Or reference other people enough. We need to take good ideas, however they come to us, and use them.

When we write it down, we’re visualizing. That’s one step closer to doing it. So, when I committed to writing down those little bitty, fly by the mind ideas about our everyday, it helped us follow through. And it helped things go a little smoother at home.

Here’s what I write on the regular. Guessing your list might be similar:

  • Grocery lists

  • To-do lists

  • Appointments (medical, sports, beauty, automotive, +, +)

  • Birthdays

  • Gift lists

  • Pack lists

Since we doubled down on “writing it down,” here are some things on our extended list. Some of these may resonate with you:

  • Meal ideas – I keep a “hot list” of around 30 make-ahead meals (what batches well) and a list of lunch options that my son will eat. I love combing through cookbooks and online roundups when I’m in the mood. That’s not usually on a Wednesday night.

  • Time spent - I keep track of how long it takes me to do things work-related (how long does it take to screen and give notes on a rough cut?) and some chores (how long does it take me to clean out the fridge?). I still think every day has 28 hours but having a rough sense of how long an activity could take helps me plot my day.

  • I keep a dedicated Christmas notebook – I list gift ideas, gift wish lists, got lists, meals served, markets attended, how and where we celebrated, so that I can reference back and keep track. Tempting, but I try not to gift olive oil to my dad every year.

  • Sport journals – this was Step’s lightbulb. Our kids write entries after every hockey game and practice – what they did well (crucial) and what they want work on, and they look at their journals before they play. It locks in the learning, and they love it. Plus, it’ll be a delightful keepsake.

  • Stickers on food items - I cruise around to various markets, mom and pop stores, massive Asian grocery stores, so it’s hard to keep track of where I got that spicy ginger syrup, that fragrant Chai tea, that tangy mustard. I write the store name on a sticker and affix it to the item. When I’m running low, I know where to go.

  • Hair nights – Our eight-year-old does not like having her hair combed out. I could never figure out how she always knows exactly what day we last shampooed it. She just confessed that she writes the nights we wash it on her wall calendar. Points girl.

  • Halloween tally – we count how many kids come to the door each year. We track candy bought vs candy given so we don’t over buy or under buy. We dial it down when it rains. 220 kids this year!

  • Bike lock combos – We put our bikes and locks away over the winter. We probably chucked two locks before we decided to use masking tape to write the code on the lock before it hibernates. We do the same for Christmas lights. Masking tape labels. I know my warms from my cools now. Huzzah!

My Christmas notebook. Dates back to 2018. Amping up what we write down has worked amazingly for us. But it took time to build the habit.

Let me share what tactics work for me:

1) I Value Ideas Like Money - Like my wedding ring or our car. Big tickets that you need to save for. Or I think of our ideas like scratch lottery tickets. So much potential and a chance to win the prizes we’re seeking for our family- more organized days, pleasant outings, and memorable occasions.

2) I’m Not Precious About Where I Write - Sticking to one system (one notebook or an app or the Notes feature on my phone) was a barrier for me. I thought I needed just one. I don’t. When my phone is avail, I type into Notes. Sometimes, I write on note pads. I write in my Idea Log. Prioritizing the act of writing it down gives me freedom and helps me be more consistent.

3) I Don’t Wait to Write - My thoughts have wings. They don’t stick with me until I’m finished washing the dishes or off the elliptical. When an idea pops into my head, I interrupt whatever I’m doing (safely) and write it down. This is where diligence became my bestie. No delay, just relay. I’m always relieved that I put that thought somewhere.

4) I Date Everything - Not referencing my early twenties…ha! But seriously, I put the month, day, year on everything. An idea may be for right now, next time, next season, next year. Attributing a date to anything I write helps me determine if it’s still useful.

5) I Put My Written Ideas Where I Can Find Them - I try to be thoughtful, practical, and creative about where I leave my ideas or reminders. I mentioned in a previous post that I put potential buys for next season right in the label of the storage box. Christmas goes in the red book. I pin notes to our corkboard. I try to think of where I would look for that idea when we need it and I put it there.

I’m the family scribe (fitting since I’m a writer), but it doesn’t mean I’m solely responsible for follow-through. We delegate. And we all have ideas. My kids pipe up. Step “out louds” so many goodies. Our ideas are for all of us.

I have enough pressure in my life, so I try to be cool about writing it down. It’s not always gonna happen. If an idea flits by and I lose her, I let her go. I give myself grace. I have plenty more coming.

Let me bring out my pom poms to wrap this up.

We all have a wicked ton of ideas in a full selection of sizes. We’ve got small, medium, large, and extra-large ideas about how to make our lives go a little more smoothly. They’re inside of us, waving.

I hope this post inspires you to boost this habit. Crank it up. Your ideas are your beautiful brain’s beautiful creations. Write them down. Somewhere. Anywhere. They just want to help.

2 YECESSARIES – Two Tips on How I Get My Sugar Together

This is the section where I share what’s in my Idea Log. I’ve been keeping track of what works for me and my family for years (because I write it down!). Here’s two more:


Waiting until the end of the night? Trying to arrange pickup? Or worse, having your host/hostess hastily wash your bowl or tray while they’re still entertaining guests? Hard pass. If it’s close family and I can be all up in their sink, then I tote something I don’t mind washing. Otherwise, I do really try to bring my potluck dish in something I’m ok with leaving, i.e., something presentable from the dollar store.

If it’s a pal’s house, I arrange with him/her beforehand to use one of their wares.

People are eating the food, not the tray, right? When we’re ready to roll, it’s a simple exit. No awkward sponge off.


Producing has sharpened my ability to elevator pitch. I got to say it in a nutshell. Condensed, clear, compelling. I use a tightened version of the “elevator” for my next year’s career goal. One powerful sentence with a crucial “why?” embedded. And I write it down.

It doesn’t need to be a job change. One year, my career goal was to take a lunch three times a week. That was enough. Improving work-life is a valid career goal, too.

I treat my career goal like a flower bulb. I plant it in my brain now before the year ends and the ground hardens. Then, I see what gorgeousness blooms in spring.

3 MY YESES – What I’m Saying “Yes” to Right Now

  1. My massage therapist recommended lengthy lip trills to relax my jaw. Before any speaking engagements or if I’m feeling stressed, this zens me out good.

  2. I wear these over my skinny jeans to keep my gams warm in winter. Not just for ballet!

  3. Totally taking this scrum board idea for holiday meals. Applying project managing to meal prep is my jam.

  4. Perfect segue to jelly! Added this lavender pepper number to the cheese board at Thanksgiving. Hit. Black-owned and made in Canada.

  5. Loose fit, but not sweats? Count me in. I scored a pair of these at my fave discount store and have not taken them off.

  6. How am I the last one to find out about tinted moisturizers? Doing dewy in one step now.

  7. Working out the menu but think I’m serving this dessert again this year for Christmas dinner. Hot rum butter sauce brings joy to the world.

  8. I gasped when I saw these at a grocery store in CANADA. Finally!

Thanks so much for being so generous with your time. I appreciate every moment with you. I’ll be dipping back into the “Write it Down” topic again at some point. I hope the coming weeks are filled with all sorts of goodness!

Fa la la la la, xoAG


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