To List or not to List, That is the Question

I am a big picture thinking, detail disliking, list maker.

I make a list for everything so I don’t have to remember anything

So my brain can be free to wonder and seek

out answers to my questions.

I’ve listed for so long,

I never realized that my list was part of my problem.

I hated writing down

get dressed

over and over

or make dinner.

But write it, I did, because I really might forget .

I’m something like the absent-minded professor that way.

This was, however, counterproductive.

Because once my list gets over 5 things long,

My list starts to stress and bother me–

a self-created monster,

task-master, and

guilt tripper.


My most recent success has been to make new rules of what will and will not be allowed on my list:

1–A permanent list of routine items are posted in two places.  These are the core must dos–most of them so mundane no one should have to write them and in fact, I sometimes wonder, why we must do them.  But, I tried not doing them and Yes, we really must do them.  So, there they are.

2–A rocks of the day list.  This is a list of 1 to 3 items per day that are the most important tasks that I WANT to do that will have the most impact if I do them.  OOH, not so hard to list.  These I schedule with a time attached into my day.  Now we are going someplace.  I found out through experience that most of my day is already spoken for.  One to three rocks is all I can reasonably hope to fit in.  And, they are so few, I might actually remember them.

3–What NOT to list:  I do not list my routine must dos.

I also realized I do not need to list anything visually reminding.  Like the mold in the shower will remind me to take care of that, or the bathroom light not working . . . you get the idea.  I am reasonably certain that even I will not forget or be allowed to forget these things.

I also do not need to list anything that is scheduled in with an appointment time.  This may be a rock of the day, but it doesn’t need to go on my list.

I don’t need to list all the awesome things I’d like to do or could do or might do.  All these glorious ideas can be kept on a could do list somewhere else for when I have room in my rock basket for the day to throw one in.  But, left on my regular list they just cry for attention or they whine because I never got to them.   I have decided I definitely don’t need to keep making my imagination list so big that it beats me up regularly in reality.

4–If it has a deadline, I schedule it in reverse and add about twice as much time (in case of emergency).  Real life continually teaches me to aim for early (partly because everything in real life takes 2-4 times as long as I imagine it will).  This will get it off my calendar and into my day in time to do it easily–I hope.

5–So the only list I have left that I make and look at everyday is on a tiny notebook.  I only write on it the things that can be done anytime, are hard to prioritize, need to be done, don’t take long to do (if it takes long I need to calendar it out like a project see #4) and I will forget–no visual or intrinsic reminder.  But, they can be done WHENEVER.  I call this little notebook my whenever book and whenever I have a small block of time, I can easily fill it and check one of these babies off.  Then, whenever I get one page done, I get a glorious reward.  I get to throw the page away!  And, I never have to see a very long list.  So I don’t get bogged down.

And, I ultimately get exactly the result I wanted.  I get to not worry.

There is always enough time for the most important things.

© 2012 DarEll S. Hoskisson (dsh)