I’m a list-maker. I make a lot of lists. A LOT of lists. I make to-do lists, shopping lists, packing lists, lists of items I’ve donated to charity… Sometimes I make a list of the things I want to make lists for.
For a list to feel truly satisfying, you’re gonna want a good pen. I like gel pens. Preferably in a variety of colors. (The only thing more anal-retentive than a well-written list, is a list that is color coded.)
You’ll also need to establish your list-making medium. Here’s a list of things you can use to make lists:
*Scraps of paper – I tend to avoid using scraps because I usually wind up accidentally throwing them away before I get the chance to complete my list – or, failing that, transferring unfinished tasks onto a new list. (Which I do all the time.)
*Smart phones, iPads and other digital methods – I tried that for a little while, but it didn’t leave me with the same sense of satisfaction that physically crossing an item off a list gives me.
*Other – My mother uses the backs of envelopes. It’s adorable.
I’m a big fan of the yellow legal pad.
Biggest perk of working at a law firm? Access to an unlimited supply of yellow legal pads. (The assistant who worked here before me accidentally bought the wide-ruled legal pads and my boss hates those, so it’s up to me to use them up. And boy, will I!)
I’ve always been a highly goal-oriented individual, and list-making is great way to organize the multitude of ideas that pass through my head on a given day. The trouble is, my goals tend to be rather…lofty. To an almost ludicrous degree.
Take the list I made on Wednesday…
For those of you with a slow internet connection or small-screened smart phone, I’ll recreate the list here:
- Finish pilot for TV show
- Start pilot for TV show
- Write opera libretto
- Blog about that time you worked in a ruler factory
- Learn music for concert w/Brian
- Learn ‘Lucia di Lammermoor’ because it’s time
- Submit opera audition applications
- Apply for more film & TV work
- Go grocery shopping
- Clean out the fridge
- Clean all the things (donate anything you don’t feel like cleaning to Goodwill)
- Pay bills
- Pick up dry cleaning
That was just Wednesday! Did I mention that I also worked nine hours on Wednesday?
Okay, so I didn’t really expect to finish everything on the list. Hell, I’d be lucky to accomplish even one of those things. This could easily be my to-do list for the next five years – at least!
The truth is, I didn’t accomplish any of those things. I was exhausted. And hungry. And the dry cleaners was closed. I am a failure.
That’s the biggest problem with lists. You kinda feel like shit when you have so many unfinished tasks hanging over your head. At least that’s what happens to me.
So I came up with a solution.
When I got home from my very long day and it became evident that my overly ambitious list was going to be left undone, I made a new list. One that was absolutely manageable – even in my depleted state. It looked like this:
- Eat some food
- Don’t feel guilty about the fact that it’s take-out
- Cuddle with the dog (His name is Wallace and he’s adorable. See below.)
- Watch: Breaking Bad, Dexter, SAMCRO (Sons of Anarchy)
- Go to bed at 10:15pm
I feel better already.