A Nation of “Listers”

Okay, I confess.  I have been a “to do” list person from way back yonder. I still use them to this day.  And the reason I use them is that they work.

One of my "to do" lists
A typical “to do” list after I’m finished with it

I’ve gotten them down to a fine art.  I prioritize, sort them by daily, weekly, and monthly.  I have my 3 month goals and my 6 month goals, and to some degree they are quite effective.

Of course, there were times when I went overboard. If you aren’t careful you find yourself making a list just to feel productive.  And there’s also the possibility of making too many lists.  After all, if you spend too much time creating lists, you don’t have as much time to spend actually doing the items on your list.

But if you are a “lister”, you know the satisfaction of tackling your list. Of getting things done in an organized manner. And the sheer joy of checking things off your list. Nothing makes me feel better than to see my legal pad of items cross through at the end of the day. It keeps me on track and helps keep me sane.

But then, as with anything else you can begin to get a out of kilter with your list-making.  When you find yourself making lists that don’t ever get accomplished, it’s time to stop and reassess.  Perhaps procrastination is disguising itself in a list.  If you keep putting “clean guest room closet” on a list week after week and it’s not getting cleaned, it’s time to fess up.  You’ve actually been using a list to make you feel better about not getting anything done.  It happens, people!

And then there are folks who are not only “off kilter” but are downright pathological about their lists.  Like hoarding, which begins with a small stash here and a stack of newspapers over there, “listosis” (my made-up word) can and does happen.

I have a friend in Virginia who has a list in every room.  She has her laundry room lists, her basement lists, garage lists, cleaning lists, gardening lists–and let’s not even count the lists that cover her refrigerator.

Poor thing.  She spends way too much time obsessing over her lists. If someone were to go in her house and snatch up all her lists (which I confess to having contemplated during a moment of wickedness) she would be a wreck.

But it isn’t just my friend. The entire country seems to have gone list crazy. “Wish lists”, “shopping lists”, “checklists”, “to do lists”, “reading lists”, “top ten lists”, “bullet-ed lists”, etc.  There are even entire web sites devoted to lists.

I don’t know where it will all end.  Lists just get more popular all the time.  According to research, nothing drives web traffic like “Top Ten” lists.

But to paraphrase Proverbs, perhaps “With all thy listing, don’t forget to get things done.”

© Wade Kingston

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