Allow me to come clean on a not-so-secret idiosyncrasy about yours truly: I live a life of lists. Lists make my head calmer. They essentially make up for what I feel is a very poor memory function. They provide a small outlet for what I fear could be a much worse OCD issue without them. I put lists on par with my desire to organize our kitchen pantry about every 3rd week. I don’t particularly enjoy doing this. I don’t think our pantry is particularly unorganized either. I feel good when it is done.
I have tried many of the online list tools but find I need more flexibility than they all provide. At work I rely on multiple kinds of lists (more on this later). At home there are also several lists. Lists of mine live in many locations usually stored based on the context in which I will be using the list. Lists of books I have read are here on my blog. Lists of books I want to read are oddly stored on random sheets of paper that I carry around with me until I eventually put them online, put them into MS Outlook as a task or add them to Living Social or the Visual Bookshelf App in Facebook. There are also lists on things I want to do. These typically reside in the “Stickies” application that came with the iMac. Lists on general things to get done over time, a list for life lessons from Randy Pausch’s “The Last Lecture”, and a list for the short family day trips we could take. There are others. I know for sure I keep some random lists on both my iGoogle homepage and my MyYahoo homepage. We have a dry erase board in the mudroom – another list. There is a napkin on the passenger seat of my car with the names of songs I like or shows I hear on NPR. This is starting to get ugly.
Work lists take on a different form and I think maybe a bit more thought through. At work there are three (3) primary kinds of lists:
- The LOD (list of the day) – I typically write down the three things I want to accomplish during the day (see bad memory reference above). These items range from the severely tactical to conversations I want to talk live with a human or humans about to multi-day efforts that need final polishing before calling complete.
- My Journal/notepad list – items here are predominantly longer-term to-dos that require some form of follow-up. In a typical day, I attend between 5-10 meetings of which about half of them I attend without my laptop. This list captures to-dos of this form and when the meeting goes awry or loses my interest I typically pile a few personal to-dos on the list rather than blatantly daydreaming.
- My Tasks – these are stored in MS Outlook via the Tasks function and the nice part about these items is I have ready access to them on my phone. In an ideal world I transfer the items from my journal/notepad list to my to one of the task lists in MS Outlook. Yes, that would be ideal. Actually ideal would be having a great memory so nothing had to be written down for me to remember. Some of these never get done.
I also have aspirations for my lists. Big picture planning for my lists. Wow…I need help. For example, I see big things for an all-in grocery list on my phone that is ordered by the general flow of the grocery store aisles. This grocery list is a master list of every possible thing I could buy at the store with the name of the brand, the size and quantity of the items to purchase. Before going to the store (by the way I do this like once a month in our household so it is highly debatable I even need such functionality), I envision myself simply checking check boxes next to the items needed and viola! my shopping list made easy. I smile at the very thought of this. I put it up there with the desire to log all of the journal entries of each one of my hiking days ordered and organized by section hiked on that day.
Here are some of the examples of the kinds of lists I keep:
- Books to read
- Races to run or Races I have run
- Tasks to do at home
- Vacations to take over my lifetime
- Big ticket purchases to make
- Funny things my kids say
- Hiking supply list
- Non-local Restaurants I Enjoyed
- Gifts ideas for others
- and I haven’t even gotten to the work lists…
So yes, writing this has helped me realize that this may, in fact, be a bit over the top (no comments from the peanut gallery please) and some streamlining might be in order. I am adding this to a list as we speak.