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A Matter of Perspective

The art of the list

Someone asked me how I do so many things. I said it is all thanks to lists.

I have been a list maker since I was a teenager. I don’t know how I developed this skill or obsession. My mom and dad did not make lists. I don’t ever remember anyone telling me to do it, but somewhere along the way I began to make lists and now I don’t live without them.

Each day has its own list. It’s nothing fancy, just a literal list of things I want or need to accomplish that day. Some things will be put on the next day’s list if I can’t get them all done today. It is now 3:35 p.m. Central time and I am not very far on the list. Although, the things that I have done are the most time-intensive ones (except for writing 3600 words on my book for NaNoWriMo).

I have already added something to the list! I forgot that I needed to work on another website that I have been commissioned to create and maintain. (But as soon as I finish this post I can take one more item off the list!)

If you have trouble organizing your time as I do, a list might be the perfect thing for you.

I won’t bore you with the history of lists (I am not sure anyone actually knows). I will just tell you the simple steps I take to create a daily list.

Karin’s Simple Steps for List Creation and Use

1. Get a piece of paper and something to write with. Many times my lists are jotted onto the backs of envelopes or scratch paper. Our local drug store has a lot of paper waste so they have been cutting them into scratch paper. I take about 50 sheets a week! I use scratch paper for all my lists and various other writing that I do. (The above list was written on said scratch paper!)

2. Write the list. Although I am not quite this organized, you could also prioritize the items on the list. What works best for me is to write down things as they come to my mind. I might start the day with three or four things on the list and by the end of the day, I might have 20 items or more. (I just added one more thing I remembered that I needed to do today!)

3. Do what is on the list. This one should be a no-brainer, but just because you created the list doesn’t mean you will actually do anything on the list! There have been times when I do nothing on my list all day long.

4. Check things off as you accomplish them. It gives me such a sense of accomplishment to check things off the list. In fact, sometimes I will add things that I already did that day that were not on the list so that I can mark them off!

5. Add things as needed. I kind of covered this in #2, but it never hurts to repeat something if it is important. I like to think of my lists as “living” organisms—they grow as needed.

6. Move unfinished items to the next day’s list. Put them first so they have priority. There should not be things on the list that are more than a couple of weeks old unless they are really big things and you are including them on the daily list as a reminder to work on them.

7. Don’t be afraid to modify the list. I just had to modify something on my list. As much as I would like to write 3600 words on my book today, the actual number of words should have been 1667! If I get 3600 words written, I would be thrilled and amazed!

So there you have my list. I hope it helps you become more organized and find that list-making can make things easier!


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