Without My Lists I’d Be Listless

Many years ago I read The Book of Lists by David Wallechinsky, Irving Wallace, and Amy D. Wallace. It was a best-seller that captivated me and millions of other readers.

Cover The Book of ListsAs the title suggests, it was a compilation of weird facts and fascinating trivia that was downright addictive (I also read the sequels, The Book of Lists 2 and The Book of Lists 3).

Something in those books clicked with me and I became a creator of lists. Many years later, I still use lists to organize my day, keep track of family members’ birthdays and anniversaries, and remind myself of seasonal tasks around the house.

I list books I want to read, books I have read, movies recorded on my DVR, and items to add to my next Amazon Prime order.


Why am I a lister? Because it’s immediately rewarding. There’s a certain amount of gratification I get when I cross an entry off my list. It’s empowering and no matter what else happens that day, I know I had at least one triumph. I accomplished something. I can point to my success. It’s there in black and white on the page: a bunch of letters symbolizing a need, want or requirement, with a big old black line running through it. I’m a winner.


But there can be a downside, too. If I reach the end of my day and have to carry a task over from one day to another, I feel a little bit of pressure. Did I not manage my time well? Was I over-confident in my abilities to get everything done? Was that hour I spent playing Candy Crush (which I justified with an “I deserve it because I’ve been working so hard”) a mistake?

To Do List from Yesterday

The truth is, I don’t have to perform some deep analysis to know why I didn’t get through every task on my list; in my heart (and head) I already know I wasn’t as focused and efficient as I could have been. And If I’m really serious about achieving the goals I set for myself in all my many lists, I know I have to get on track and stay there. I know I have to make coffee in my own kitchen instead of jumping in the car and heading to Starbucks. I know I have to fight through those human urges to procrastinate and keep focused on what it is I’m trying to achieve.

Keep Calm 2In the end, my lists help me remember my dreams and how I’m going to achieve them. And since I never run out of dreams, it’s a sure bet that I’ll never run out of lists.

How about you? Are you a lister? What methods or tools do you use to stay on track every day with life’s big and little things?

A String of Pearls

String of Pearls CoverOne of my favorite pastimes is browsing through second-hand stores, antique shops and library outlets for interesting old books. About 8 years ago I found a book called A String of Pearls. It was published in 1856 and it’s pretty battered, as you can see from the cover. Inside are 365 scripture verses and thoughts for every day of the year. The title page displays a verse from Proverbs:

Bind them continually on your heart; Tie them around your neck.

I immediately had a visual image of God’s commandments and teachings as pearls strung together so we can wear them wherever we go throughout our day.

Here’s the page with today’s verse and reflection:

String of Pearls June page

I thought this book was so charming, I used it as inspiration for a fictional book in my novel Ask Me Again. The heroine, Minda McAllister, has a book called Mrs. Plowright’s 1908 Guide for the Genteel Lady Gardener, which Minda describes as “a peculiar mixture of gardening tips, etiquette lessons and Christian affirmations”—much like String of Pearls.

Resolutions, Anyone?

The new year is almost here and for many people that means adopting new year’s resolutions.

Calendar Page ResolutionI’ve never been much for making resolutions at the beginning of the year, but I understand the lure. A new year means new opportunities and a new slate on which we can write the stories of our lives. People use it as a time to set goals and resolve to make a real change in their lives.

The reason I don’t do new year’s resolutions is that I set goals all the time. Every day, every week, every month I know what I need to accomplish in order to achieve what I want. From time to time my goals may change, and I roll with the punches, but my discipline is still the same.

Some days I’m more successful at checking a task off my list than other days. Some days I abandon my goals in favor of binge-watching Hallmark Channel movies with a half-gallon of Haagen Dazs. But those indulgent days are few, and they’re only temporary set-backs. The next day I’m right back at my to do list, anxious to check off the next goal I want to accomplish.

So here are a couple of my personal goals for the month of January:

  1. By January 15 identify the birth date of my great-grandfather so I can order a copy of his birth certificate and document it in on my family tree
  2. Over the next ten days, write a minimum of 250 words a day on my new book

Easy-peasy, right? They sound so do-able. And I have every confidence I can get these things (and a few others) done. As long as I don’t get distracted by the Hallmark Channel and ice cream.