The road of life is littered with my lists… To-do lists, shopping lists, wish lists, bucket list, lists of books I want to read, lists of songs I want to buy on iTunes, lists of topics I want to cover in my blog, lists of wine I have tried and liked (…because after a good glass of wine I can barely remember my own name, let alone the name of a winery, its country and variety). The lists can take multiple forms: electronic lists on my iPhone, scrap paper, post-it notes, napkins, special “list” pads, toilet paper, whatever is closest when the inspiration strikes.
I am often tempted to make a master list of all the lists I have but that just seems extreme… so I keep several of them in a “steno” note book.
Maybe I am a bit ambitious in my own tasking or maybe it is because I don’t have the retention powers of others, but I find that keeping lists helps me to stay organized, focused and on top of everything I need and aspire to do. In addition it can be great for multi-tasking because at a glance, one can pick out seemingly compatible or complementary tasks and can double, triple or quadruple the things accomplished in one strong effort.
I would like to think it is a good habit, others think its freaky to see my lists lined up on the kitchen counter like a parking lot. Frankly, if I expect to make it to Christmas on time, I can’t imagine getting ready for Christmas without a few lists…. ok… SEVERAL!
Christmas spoiler alert: Frankly, I have a sneaky suspicion that the whole Santa thing is a bit of fiction. How someone could function on only two lists, the naughty list and the nice list, is ridiculously unrealistic, I think! At the very minimum, he needs naughty and nice lists broken down by gift lists, cross referenced to time zones, linked to the reindeer GPS, adjusted by meteorological predictions.
Anyway, the best part of making lists is that the magical moment I complete a task and scratch it off when it is the last item on a list. It is a huge rush, a complete sense of euphoria… A list that can actually be tossed out!
However, one of the problems with listing is when I have one item left on the list and no visible way of accomplishing the task any time soon. I don’t want to leave the item undone, nor do I want a ratty little list sitting around indefinitely with just one item on it.The only solution is to start a new one…. the “deferred items” list.
If I start running tardy on some commitments and need to elevate their priority, I usually create a “overdue commitments action item” list and paper clip it over the general “to-do” list.
On those nights when I have a hard time falling asleep as thoughts are racing through my head, I can’t describe the relief it brings to note them all down in the “items keeping me awake at night” list. It is just a “staging” list as in the morning, those items will be transposed to the lists where they truly belong.
Then we have those times I go up the stairs only to forget the reason I went up there in the first place. For that, I propose the “forgotten items to action” list, if only I can remember what those items were.
Then, I hate those times when I lose a list and try to recreate it. It becomes an obsession to remember everything that was on it, but in the effort, and I find ten new things that weren’t on the original list in the first place but need to be actioned anyway. Those become the “forgotten action items” list and the “new action items to categorize” list.
On the other hand, I love those times when I am cleaning and find a list I misplaced, only to find all the items were completed anyway… What joy! It’s like winning the lottery but significantly better because this means you are ahead of schedule!!!
But at the end of the day, if my chronic use of lists is a little obsessive, it’s just with the goal of completing those details of day-to-day living as efficiently as possible to make time for the really important stuff, time with family, time with friends and time for writing!