Monday, November 16, 2009

Listing lots to like about lists

It’s Monday, so it’s time for a list, or lists.

My list-making habits didn’t end with my gainful employment. I still start each Monday with a to-do list for the week. Only now, instead of “finish communications plan for Project Whatever,” or “plan mill visit for Congressman Whoever,” it’s more likely to be “write on book, exercise, Go to Fred’s (dollar store), return library books. Laundry.”

I used to put on the list: “get a job.” But that’s not even funny anymore. Plus, looking for a job -- the networking, checking job sites, updating my job matrix list – has become second nature to me now. It does not have to be on the list; that giant task called job hunting now seems as everyday to me as breathing.

Today I had at the top of my to-do list: write on blog. After last week’s heart-felt essay on Danielle and her Daddy, I wanted to ruminate on something less emotional and more practical. Hence, this is a look at lists.

Aside from week-of to-do list, I keep a running list on the counter in the kitchen: garbage bags, dishwashing liquid. I also keep long-range lists, but too often, these fall into the “I’ll get right on that, Rose” category or into the “do wonders…eat rotten cucumbers” status.

See, “I’ll get right on that, Rose” is a line from a movie which my daughter and I say, referring to things we need to do but don’t want to do. The cat litter box needs changing. “I’ll get right on that, Rose.”

“I’m gonna do wonders and eat rotten cucumbers.” That’s a quote from Lona, the mother of my long-time BFF Janet, referring to ambitious plans and good intentions. Long-term lists can land in this category: lose weight, eat more vegetables, clean out the basement storage area, negotiate world peace.

List-making is a great time management tool. We all know that. But, key to making list-making work is two-fold: 1. Look at the list and do the items. Or more specifically: Refer to list often during the day or week, and do the items on it, marking them off as you go and adding tasks as needed. 2. Don’t ignore, lose or forget said lists. Or if you do, re-write them.

I know there apps for task lists on my phone, and in my computer’s e-mail and calendar functions. But, like my news and my books, I prefer paper and pen lists over digital ones, despite those cool-to-check-off-as-done symbols the computer-generated lists have.

Maybe it’s just me, but nothing is more satisfying than marking tasks off a to-do list. You can mark through the item or put a check or X mark by it. There, that’s done.

It’s a multitasker’s motivation and reward all in one.

So, today, in writing about lists I will be able to mark one task off this week’s list: write on blog. Check.

Now, I can move down that list. And, you never know, this week may be the week when I really do finally, “do wonders and eat rotten cucumbers.”

Picture of the day:
Directional signs to our camphouse, a.k.a. the Wild Kingdom or WK for short. Signs custom-designed by Mary Claire and Jackie.

Song of the day: Choctaw Bingo, James McMurtry

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