Our View From Here

Perspectives of Five Women

Making a List. Not Necessarily Checking it Twice.

on August 25, 2011

I am a list-maker. Since I first understood the concept of a list, I began making them. Grocery lists, to do lists, lists of books I want to read, packing lists….essentially, if I could find a reason to put somewhat related items down on a piece of paper, I would do so.  I am constantly finding little scraps of paper containing forgotten or discarded lists in my pockets and purse, on my nightstand and in other random spots around my house. You could probably build a full-sized person with all the paper from all the lists I’ve made over the course of my life, though that would be weird and I’m not sure why you would want to. But you probably could.

I’m currently looking at perhaps my crowning achievement of lists – a to do lists with over 30 items on it. It’s not that insane. Most of the items don’t have any particular deadline, but rather are things I would like to accomplish by the end of the year. It’s a pretty random mishmash of items. I have everything from changing an electrical outlet in my bedroom that shot green sparks at me the last time I tried to use it (several years ago) to going to the bank to deposit a few checks. I have researching how to properly dispose of VHS tapes and sending in a warranty slip for the tires I just bought. I need to update my GPS and make travel arrangements for a friend’s upcoming wedding.

 Lists have a way of reassuring me. I have a hard time shutting my brain off. At least if I can write down the things I’m thinking about in a list they’re somewhat consolidated and organized so I don’t feel like I have a million little insects floating around my brain. I always feel much more productive when I have a list as well. Even if I were to get the same things done without having my list, there’s just something about crossing things off my list that makes me feel like I accomplished more. I’m one of those people who will add things to my list that are nearly complete already, just so I can cross something off right away. I like looking as slowly but surely the crossed off items begin to outnumber the items yet to be completed.

My lists also help to keep me honest. I have a great knack for procrastinating on things I don’t want to do, but once I put them in a list, they become real, and I’ll start feeling guilty for not tackling them. Of course, I usually only get to a list of 30+ items when I’ve been procrastinating for months (or years) to begin with. But by finally writing them down rather than just thinking about them, I’m now obligated to finish them. Perhaps it’s just a weird way my brain works, but if I ever want to get anything practical yet somewhat mundane and responsible done, I have to rely upon my lists.

On a trip, the packing list is an essential part of the preparation for the trip itself. It helps me to remember things I might forget, like my phone charger or toothpaste, but I put everything I could conceivably need on the list, even the most basic, obvious items – like shirts. Now, with the possible exception of when I was very small and didn’t have a concept of modesty, I’ve never left the house without a shirt. I don’t know why I need to explicitly state “shirts” on my list, but I do. Conversely, I’ve never forgotten to bring shirts, so perhaps it works.

As this post shows, I’m a bit neurotic about my lists. But I’ve been making lists for so long and they’ve become such an invaluable tool to my life organization that if I tried to change things and not make lists, I’d be lost. Who knows? Maybe if I stopped making lists I really would forget to bring shirts with me when I travelled. I think given the risks, I’d rather not chance it.

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One response to “Making a List. Not Necessarily Checking it Twice.

  1. tuesday2 says:

    I am the queen of lists too!

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