One from Column A and One from Column B …

I like lists. There used to be a blog with that name years ago, and I was instantly drawn to it. I have always been a list-maker. Yes for the obvious things — groceries, daily tasks, packing for vacation. But also for just about anything else. If I have to think about something, my first move is usually to make a list … and sometimes to make two, to make the dreaded pro-and-con list.

I once made some crazy huge lists. Huge because I wrote them on giant chart paper and hung them up on my kitchen walls. This was years ago as I was prepping for my first knee surgery. I had a lot of things I needed to do to be ready for surgery, to get my house ready for me to be some degree of debilitated after surgery, to get loose ends at work tied up so I could ignore my job for weeks during the first part of my recuperation. I needed a series of lists, one for each area of work. And I needed the lists to be big and in my face, hence the chart paper. My kitchen looked pretty comical. And for a long time. The lists kept growing. I had three lists, but each list had two and then three sheets of chart paper.

It looked crazy, but it also made me happy. I could see my work laid out so clearly in front of me … even as the “work” started to look overwhelming and ridiculous.

I’ve mentioned my list love before, written about my foray into bullet journaling. I am still keeping a journal (and still using my bullet journaling as an excuse to buy way more pens and notebooks than I could ever actually need or use).

Today I started to make a list that started off so normal, so manageable … and then it went off the rails. My list has now spread across eight pages of my journal — two columns per page! I’m obviously out of control. I flipped through the pages tonight, and realized a few things (yes, I’m going to make a list!):

  • Sometimes making lists gets in the way of actually doing things.
  • I wish there was a magical tool I could be using that would let me take my crazy-long list and instantly categorize and organize it so it looks les like madness and more like a plan.
  • If I have this many things on a to-do list, what the hell am I actually doing with my time?
  • Do I really believe all the things on this monster list need to be done?
  • Is this list so long because I’ve been procrastinating … or have I been procrastinating because I have so many things to do and couldn’t figure out where to start? (In which case, my insane list will actually help me get started?)

Happily, I don’t have any chart paper these days, so my kitchen — and the rest of my house — is safe for now.


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8 thoughts on “One from Column A and One from Column B …

  1. Dear Fellow Lister-Sister!

    You are welcome in this place and space in my head! Where have you been (smile)! I’ve never so much enjoyed reading someone else’s enamored account of listing. I am right there with you! I journal, I bullet, I have fifty lists in a million places – and amidst all of the chaos – I find it quite soothing.

    There’s something about documenting what needs to be done quickly, later, immediately, kinda-sorta-y, don’t want to forget-ty (o.k., I may be bordering on ridiculousness, there); but, I think you get what I mean!

    I think my deeply embedded fear is that if I don’t transfer thought to paper, my terrible short term memory will sabotage my productivity – I’ll forget until it’s too late! So, I have to write it down to give myself some peace of mind – and when I don’t, it makes me feel absolutely batty!

    That being said. I do not think you’re crazy. Even when it may seem like nonsense to the average onlooker, I think there is a method to your madness, and it is a byproduct of your desire and intent to be orderly.

    I do get lost in my lists sometimes, BUT, I also feel that when I stick to them and follow through, it tremendously contributes to my productivity! My average lists probably span a good 50-60 items; but, the most satisfying part is crossing things off because they’re getting done. That makes me happiest of all.

    May you continue your happy listing, striking and do so within realms that help you maintain your sanity. You have a friend in me!

    #carryon!

    ~Dr. Carla Michelle Brown

    P.S. Reading this was blissful – I smiled the whole time!

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    1. I love this comment! Part of my list-love is definitely the fact that, if things aren’t written down, I forget them. Always. My lists are like backup memory. And the utter satisfaction of crossing items off the list! Aaah! That always feels so good.

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  2. Oh, I’m a lister also. My desk at home and at work are constantly littered with lists. To do for the day, the week, long term. I do adore the sense of accomplishment of my lists with lines through them as items are ticked off . Especially the inevitable take down and recycle of a completed list. I will stop now before this becomes a list. 😃

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  3. I wish I were a lister. Maybe I would get more accomplished that way. I know there is a certain amount of power that is felt when an item can be crossed off a list…at least, my wife tells me so.

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  4. Lainie Levin

    I’m reading the comments from the other listers, and I’m like YES! I live by the list. I make brain dumps, I organize my lists into lists, I set aside times for task and prioritize them. For me, I think it’s because there’s so much of life that is beyond my control, I like to know that there is a tiny little corner that I can manage. Plus, when I’m feeling overwhelmed, a good brain dump reminds me that the demands on my time and heart and energy are FINITE. It doesn’t solve things, but makes life feel a little more manageable.

    Now, I have to say I’ve never bullet journaled. What am I missing out on?

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