Lists… who’s running this show?

I like lists.  I like the process of writing them.  I like the look of the listed items with their optimistic little checkboxes.  I like it that my list provides a plan for accomplishing things during my day, that my list keeps me organized and on track.  I like it that my list lets me fall asleep at night because I can let go of remembering it all and know that it’s on my list for me to revisit in the morning.  And, finally, I like it that my completed list will give me the freedom to relax and not accomplish anything else.

I’ve been thinking about this today, because I have a number of things on my list that I am supposed to get done today.  One of those things is writing this post.  I woke up today, looked at my list and mentally planned out my day.  By 10:00 I was already behind schedule because I’d gotten pulled into doing things that I hadn’t put on my list (darn laundry!).  I wrote it down on my list after the fact, though, so I could check it off.  Does anyone else do that?  It’s like I want credit for it or something.  Is there somewhere I should be sending my completed lists so I can get additional graduate credits or earn coupons or something?   I’d really like a new pretty camera bag, so if there are coupons toward that, I’d be especially interested.

The list seems like such a good thing.  And, in the ways I’ve mentioned, I think it is.  However, my list can also be one of my greatest stressors.  I put the items on my list often with arbitrary and sometimes unrealistic deadlines.  It can quickly grow to the point it’s unattainable.  It can leave me feeling unsuccessful and stressed over the items that didn’t get crossed off that day.  The thing I have to always remind myself is that many of my deadlines and stresses are almost entirely self-imposed.

Take this post, for example.  I have it on my list for today because I want to routinely post a general “life” entry on Saturdays.  I’ve never told you all that before; it’s my own structure.  And, the reality is that now that I have told you that, it’s still a choice I’m making.  Although I’m sure there would be tears on your part if you were expecting a “life-y” post on Saturday and all you were greeted with was a post with a picture of me with my family or my shiny bathroom that I cleaned instead of writing a post (ya right, like I’d make that choice!), we’d all be okay.

I guess what I’m saying is that it’s a balance.  My list is great because it really does let me not dwell on what I want to be getting done, but I can easily switch to being driven by the list I created.  Maybe I need to do a better job of scheduling my “nothing” time also.  I’m trying.  Did you see that I have “knit” written on my list in the photo… and that it’s crossed off before the financial reconciliation or iPhone syncing?  Progress.


If you have information regarding where to send completed “to do” lists for credit, please leave a comment with the contact information.

17 thoughts on “Lists… who’s running this show?

  1. I’m one of those people who allow their lists and their budget to be more like a guideline than an mandate, which I have found works better for lists than budgets (ha!). I just think better with a pen in my hand. Yes, I have written something already completed on the list, not to feel more accomplished, but to keep it from rolling around in the back of my head somewhere in the “what was that thing I was supposed to remember to do” file. But I am motivated to subscribe to the comments just to see if someone comes up with a special place to send my completed lists too–I could use a new hot plate for my coffee cup. 😉

    • That’s funny about the hot plate for you! 🙂 Maybe I’m on to something…the “list completion fulfillment” department. I could host it on this blog, and everyone would send their completed lists there (in the comment section) with a chance to receive their desired item? Now I just need sponsors for it! What do you think? 🙂 …pretty new camera bag, here I come!

  2. Lists are powerful and woefully underrated. Some people have negative feelings about lists.

    I’ve heard people claim that lists stifle creativity and spontaneity. I disagree. By keeping lists I feel more secure trying different things because I know I won’t forget those other tasks I need to do.

    • I think I agree with you. As you mentioned, it frees me up to branch out from my list because I’m not concerned about forgetting something I “need” to do.

  3. I am a huge list person. For the home, I have a spiral-bound notebook that is centrally-located by the phone. I expect anyone old enough to write (which is 5/6 of my household) to put anything we need on the right page BEFORE we run out: Trader Joe’s, Target, Costco, etc.

    I hope you will take it as the highest form of flattery if I try to snap a shot of my list for my 365 project. Please know that I am not confident I can come up with a picture half as close, clear, and cool as yours, though.

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  6. I’ve been sick for a while so I’m way behind on reading blogs. Anyhooo, I like lists too, especially with my heath issues now… I was actually told by my doctor to makes lists of things to do during the day and make sure I do them so I don’t end up wheel chair bound. That would really suck but doing stuff hurts so that sucks too. I have learned though to break bigger things into smaller steps and put those things on the list.and I delegate but I still put it on my list to make sure it gets done. I tend to write things like knit, crochet, read etc..on my list and my doctor wants more actions related things. I’m working on it grumble grumble

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