Lists can be good things or bad.
They can make life more organized or too structured.
They can make you efficient or they can make you crazy.
I have a love/hate relationship with my lists, which might be considered strange, considering that I am not only the person who checks them off, but the person who writes them in the first place.
There is nothing like the feeling you get when you make that checkmark at the left of a to-do item.
You wanted to do it, you committed yourself to doing it, and you did it.
But sometimes those lists start to run your life, like when they keep you from sitting down and reading a book in the evening because you haven’t yet finished the ironing or updated your blog or wrapped the birthday present or planned the Sunday School lesson that you technically have all week to do, but that are just crying to be checked off now, not tomorrow.
I have warned family members to never, ever buy me the book called “1,000 Places to See Before You Die,” or 1,000 anythings to do about whatever for that matter.
A list that long and that impossible to check off would put me over the edge.
Some lists are better kept after the fact.
Make your own list of places you’ve seen, and it will bring fond memories rather than over-anxious anticipation.
Make a list of books you’ve read and the things you felt or learned from them will come back as you peruse it.
Make a list of things you’re grateful for and it will grow and grow and grow.
Make a list of moments that took your breath away and you will smile.
Lists before the fact have their value too.
When your mind is swimming with things to do, a list can take the pressure off your mind and put it to paper, where you can more easily see what is most important and what is most timely.
When your thoughts are full of doubts relating to a decision, a list can help you see the pros and cons and weigh them in balance.
When there is more to do than there is time in the day, a trick I learned from the Franklin planner system 20-plus years ago, is to write those tasks down and make sure you’re doing what needs to be done first by prioritizing.
There are great ideas in that system and I’ve incorporated the ones that worked for me and am still using them these many years later.
But sometimes the list becomes the law and drives the life.
Trips are so full of lists of things to see that they are sometimes less than relaxing, to make an extreme understatement.
Luckily my traveling companions are equally as interested in absolutely everything that can possibly be seen/experienced, so our full lists are rewarded by a full immersion experience.
Only returning to a place we’ve already explored affords a chance to sit quietly in one place.
Even as I say this I know I will likely never change.
It’s how I operate, it’s how I stay efficient, it’s how I see so much in so little time.
And it’s how I’ve come to love the days when there are no lists.
When I do what I want to do and when that’s finished I find something else to do.
It’s happened at least twice now.
And then I write the things I did down and check them off.