The Lists in my Life

I go through phases of intense list making.   In the past, writing them has given me some way of mastering the otherwise uncontrollable. Lately, I've just found list making to be a fruitless exercise.  I think I'm going about  it all wrong.  I heard once from a time management expert that you should unload you mind once or twice a year. According to him,you should take every single category in your life and break down all the tasks that need doing in that category, i.e. financial, file, make dental appointment.  However, coming up with categories in which I might be able to sort out what parts of my life need batteries has proven extremely difficult for me. I end up with way too many subcategories.  It is also difficult because writing the list feels like I've failed before I have even begun. If I can't do all of the things on the list, I don't want to do anything. Part of my problem with lists is that instead of helping me manage the things that need to do be done, I lose all perspective.  Instead of crossing off dental appointment once it is done, I  can't put it out of my head that I'll have to go to the dentist again in 6 months...which of course makes for an unending list!  Once this kind of list starts, it really never ends, e.g. get passport...get passport form...get passport photos...get someone to sign passports...find money to pay for passport...get photos re-done...find completed application form,.  and on and on it goes. I used to write lists to get the niggling things that keep me up at  night out of my head but I guess I find them unhelpful because they are constant reminders of how much is undone.

Now I focus on making grocery lists, movies-I-want-to-see lists and Christmas gift lists.  These kinds of lists do not involve any kind of stress.  I don't always follow them, but planning food and gifts and movies is far more enjoyable.  Also, these kinds of lists have a deadline after which they can be abandoned or completed  and they leave room for possibility. 

I  like this site:  It is a compendium of to do lists with the idea that the lists we make say a lot about who we are and what is on our minds.  Here are my favourites so far:

An Ambitious To Do List

A One-Foot-in-Front-of-the-Other To Do List

A Peek into Another's Thoughts To Do List

My daughter directs things by drawing up a list to bring focus to our is her way of ensuring there is a plan, almost like a written contract that binds us to spend time together doing something that she would like to do. I love these lists, they bring joy back to the practise for me!  I especially like point 3 and 5 (xmas art and write storys) on her to do list.

For a chuckle, check out these top ten grocery lists:


  1. The writing is wonderful here erin, and I find your children so intriguing. I absolutely love Molly's list. The fact the numbers are on the other side, and her desire to somehow bring order to the day is admirable.


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