Are you list person? I think people either are or aren’t. There doesn’t seem to be much in between. If I tell you that I am a list person, I can imagine some of you laughing about how I feel the need to keep my life organised and compartmentalised.
I have typed lists, handwritten lists, a file on my hard drive entitled “Lists”… Does that make me a control freak? I like to have a “To do” list, and I definitely feel better when I have crossed a few things off. I sometimes write on things I have already done so that I have the satisfaction of crossing them off. I know, I know…
Crossing things off
Most of the time I don’t finish the tasks on my list. I was really pleased that I was able to scrub out everything on a list that I made on Thursday. I hadn’t actually finished the tasks until the Saturday evening, but they were done! Hurrah. This did give me a real sense of satisfaction and relief that at I had managed to complete a number of jobs.
I was tidying my desk a couple of weeks ago when I discovered a list from September. This must have been a particularly important one because I went to the effort of typing it out. I was pleased to discover that I finished most of it, but was alarmed to realise that I hadn’t written a letter to a colleague. My feeling is that I had allowed myself to forget about it because I had entrusted it to the list.
I remember, as a child, my Dad making lists of what we had received for Christmas, and I carried on this family tradition. Out would come the clipboard, and people had to wait until I had written the necessary information about who had given what to whom before opening the next one. I would then either write to the gift-givers myself, or sit with my daughter once she was old enough to do it herself.
This year was different. My husband thought I must be unwell. I decided to sit back and enjoy the act of watching my children delight in receiving their gifts. This did make it a far more pleasurable and relaxed occasion. It was refreshing to just allow them to do things in their own time rather than wait for me to scribble down what I felt I needed to.
It did have its downsides, though. When I was encouraging my children to write thank-you letters, we couldn’t remember what had been given by some people. I also like to remind my children later on who gave them the toy they are playing with, and my daughter has become adept at remembering this sort of thing. I found a scrap of paper behind the bread bin the other day (don’t ask about the state of my kitchen) and realised that I had jotted down presents that we haven’t thanked people for. Apologies, Aunty Helen and step-sister Lindsay. Is it too late to do them in May?
Lists help me to let go
So, perhaps lists are the way to go for me. Perhaps it’s because some of the areas in my life can be so chaotic and disorganised that I like to feel I have control over others. I certainly feel better once I have written something down – I can release it from my mind because I know it will be on my desk the next morning, rather than having to keep reminding myself of it. I used to have a generic list for going away when my children were tiny, and that made a big difference to the levels of stress during the preparation beforehand.
I sometimes feel that I just have too many things to do, which can be when I start procrastinating about it all. By writing it down, I can organise my thoughts and work out a sensible order to fit it all in. My husband and I wrote a huge list of the things that we haven’t yet tackled since moving house, and once we had ordered them, it didn’t take long to cross off some of the major things that had been worrying us.
So – I may have been able to let go of the list last Christmas, but I think that in the long run, I think I am happier being a list person after all.
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