Making Lists

March 22, 2012 at 10:39 pm | Posted in Writing | 8 Comments
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To-do lists, bucket lists, grocery lists, gift lists, wish lists, book lists, the list goes on…

I have lived-by-list ever since I began making grocery lists when I first married – my family knows, or can work out how long ago that was (Oh, all right, it was 43 years ago, but to a different fellow than the one I am married to now)!

Lists certainly are great motivators. You have to write the list first, of course. Then, when you look at the list – yes, you have to actually consult it – you may either choose a task from anywhere on it  or do the next one on the list. There is great satisfaction when you can tick off a completed. It makes you feel you have gotten somewhere – even if it wasn’t very far.

But lists have a greater power than that.

I find that having a list helps me to remember what I want to do, what I need to do, and what I must do.

When my five sons were young, I used lists to allocate tasks to those who had the time, the ability or inclination to do them (money provides the incentive there: no completed tasks for the week = no pocket money). I was on the list too., though I didn’t get any extra pocket money.

Lists can organise and prioritise your tasks, from lesser to most important, thus have a great impact on your choice of which tasks to take on at a particular time.

Even if a list is long, it can be broken up into separate lists for short, medium or long term, easy, difficult, or awaiting a time when everything else is in place so it can get done.

I make lists in my writing too – of characters, plot points, research items needed, topics to blog about, items submitted to the newsletter I publish for out writers’ group. I even make lists of inspirational, funny or otherwise appropriate quotes to use in my writing.

     My husband and I sometimes even find it difficult to get through a day now without our lists – the ones that tell us which medical appointments we have to attend (more of those than we’d like), bills that still need paying, what maintenance tasks need doing or completing, and when we need to meet people and attend engagements.

     While I may remember the items on my grocery shop list, I will almost invariably forget an appointment or commitment if I haven’t made a note of it.

     I have also found the making of lists to be a great way of re-cycling those bill-carrying envelopes that come in the mail, though they come less frequently now, when more and more bills are paid electronically.

    I have a pile of blank-backed envelopes tucked on a shelf corner in the pantry, and I use the backs of them to write my lists on. I also cut up printer paper scraps that I have double-side printed drafts and other temporary items onto. These sit on my desk. The way both piles stay at the same height convinces me that it will be some time before they run out.

     I really do want to avoid becoming obsessive about list-keeping, however. So, now and then, I will avoid looking at a list for a whole day. It must be working, because things still get done – just not always the things that were on my to-do list.

How important are lists to you? Can you manage without them, or are they an essential part of your life?

 

“I have always lived my life by making lists: lists of people to call, lists of ideas, lists of companies to set up, lists of people who can make things happen. Each day I work through these lists, and that sequence of calls propels me forward.” ~ Richard Branson

 

This blog post was inspired by my nephew. Here is, Pete Abela’s own blog post about lists.

 

© Linda Visman

22nd March 2012

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