Confessions of a List-maker

Who else makes lists for everything? I’m not talking basic grocery shopping (ironically what I’m least likely to make a list for) but anything from making decisions to feeling more settled or with it. A list-maker uses lists not only for goals and data but also to restore themselves to their equilibrium.

Why List-makers Make Lists

Energized? Ready to be productive? Make a list and complete it. Undecided? Need more information to pick? Make a list and compare. Upset? Feeling lost or purposeless? Make a list and then never look at it again.

Wait. What?

Yes, you read that right. Sometimes, I make a list for the sole purpose of making the list. Because the act of making the list forces me to organize my thoughts on the topic, and having done so, I feel better and am better able to proceed.

Fellow list-makers are nodding sagely (“Yes! That.”) Non-list-makers are questioning my sanity (“You do what now?”). Which is fair enough, but really a separate issue.

The Lists Can Get Complicated

They can be pages long, use table formatting, or cover multiple topics. I have even been known to color code the tasks on the list.

  1. Because I often don’t think of things in the order I need to do them,
  2. Because I’m too lazy to re-write them in order or split them into separate lists (or, if you want to be more positive, I’m too planet and waste conscious), and
  3. Because I like colors and color-coding things.

Yes, I’m also that person.

And if I only have one pen or color when I’m prioritizing, I’ll use little symbols next to each item and write a key at the top of the page.

That’s probably confessing a little too much.

Lists & Novel Writing

Oh, they go together. I have lists of characters and lists of scenes. I have lists of words I’ve made up (it is a fantasy story) and lists of types of magic. I even have lists of book ideas I want to write after Born Not Made.

Yes, some of them are color-coded (mostly the scenes).

And, of course, I have “writing BNM” on my to-do and goals lists. Speaking of which…

The Downside of List-making

For those who make lists, have you ever come across lists you made before? You know, when cleaning your desk or going through old notebooks? Or perhaps going through an ever-growing to-do pile?

Sometimes, it’s interesting because you see what you were focused on a while back. With those, I go, “Oh, interesting,” throw it away, and generally forget it.

Occasionally, though, I come across one of those what-do-I-want-out-of-my-life lists or one of the how-do-I-fix-my-life lists. Sometimes, I come across a few of the same type. Fodder for a cross-comparison of years, potentially even decades.

Yeah… That kinda sucks. Because I’ve noticed a pattern.

“Oh, look. Same items listed as today… yay.”

Sure, some of them are different. Some of the old ones have actually been accomplished. Not many, but some. Others have been abandoned. But an unfortunately large number of them are exactly the same as they were 5 years ago or 10 years ago.

Or *sob* 20 years ago.

That’s when I realize that it’s better to be a list-maker if you’re not a hoarder, too (or at least, not horrible at throwing out old papers regularly).

There’s another item for my next self-improvement list. I hope it doesn’t stay on it for a few decades…


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