For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a list-maker. I’m sure this started somewhere, as I certainly couldn’t have been making lists along the womb wall (or perhaps I was, I was a rotten child), but someplace it started and has continued. I make lists of places to go, lists of things to buy, lists of upcoming celebrations, lists of book ideas and of course, there is my to do list, which is now in the form of a to-do mousepad. When I finish, buy, write or celebrate an item, I cross it off. When the list gets messy or something changes, I tend to just re-write it.
I think this says a great deal about me as a person. First, I suppose it says I’m organized. I don’t like saying I’ll do something and then not doing it, but I also know that with everything there is to do, I won’t remember if I don’t see it. So I make lists in order to fulfill my obligations. I make lists so that I can see where I can “schedule” downtime, which is pretty sad, but then again, I’m trying to do a thing here as a writer and there just isn’t a lot of space left. I also make lists so that I can look forward to things. Seeing them coming on a calendar or a list is really fun. So I guess that says that I’m a forward thinker, living two steps ahead of myself in an effort to get everything done.
And that is a pretty true assessment. When I was in elementary school, I worried about high school. In high school, college. When I have a new book out, I’m already worried and working on the next one or even two down the road. I’m not a very Live In the Now kind of person.
I also think my crossing off process says something about me. When I finish something on the list, I cross it off. When I finish something that wasn’t on the list… I will add it to the list and cross it off. If I re-write a list, I do it just before I do something, so I can almost immediately cross it off and have a list that already has something “done”.
I guess what that says about me is that I feel slightly overwhelmed. Okay, a little more than slightly. Having things crossed off is like a star on a paper, it’s something that says, “You did it! Go you!” It’s a tiny little celebration of a matter finished.
So what about you? Are you a listmaker? Have any keen psychological insights about why and how you do or don’t do it?