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.
As 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?
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.
In 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?