Thursday, February 13, 2014

The List by Terry Burns



How would we exist without a list?

We have to make a list to go buy groceries. Then there is the famous ‘Honey-do list’ of jobs around the house that need to be done. When the new year starts some make New Year’s resolutions while others just set goals they want to pursue in the new year. Either way the chances are whichever we choose they end up being items on our list. 

A great deal of what I have to do is represented by the emails in my inbox, sitting there until I do something with them and they are handled or filed. That means that inbox is a sort of list too.

I had a friend who was the ultimate list-maker, she even had a list of what lists she had. She spent all of her time making sure nothing was overlooked and ensuring that everything she needed to do was safely on a list somewhere. She was successful, I don’t think anything was overlooked. The only problem was, she spent all of her time planning to do things and little if any time doing them.

A list is only good if we spend time working items off that list. A good day is when we take more off the list than we add to it. You see, our list is immortal, it will never go away. Not only that, but when we pass on our list survives us to be added to someone else’s list, along with the task of our final arrangements. I find it interesting to think that our list may actually be the same list that has passed down for generations and even though all of the old items have long since been resolved, the list has lived on.

But used correctly a list can be invaluable. It can help us prioritize and focus our activities. That use to be very hard, necessitating constant re-writing of lists. No more. With word processing simple cut and paste functions can re-arrange priorities on a list in seconds.

I keep my to-do list in an email which I send when changes are made to myself and to my wife. That keeps it up at the top on my inbox (my other list) and insures that it will always be right in front of me as I have to work that inbox constantly. I work that inbox from both ends, from the top to knock items off that require little to keep the number of items in there down, then I go to the bottom to concentrate on items that have been in there a while.

Some things stay on my list for a long time until finally I decide “I’m just not going to do that.” That in itself is a resolution and the item can come off the list. There’s more than one way to do anything.

1 comment:

Ron Estrada said...

I have the same system, Terry. I make a list. If something is on there for too long, it probably wasn't very important in the first place. My writing partner and I make lists of projects we'd like to tackle. Then, by the time we get to...oh, about now...we realize that we'll never get a novel written if we tackle everything on our list. Writing partners are a good way to keep one in check, especially when I get a text from her that says "Aaaaaggghhhh...I don't have time for this Ron!"