Tuesday, November 15, 2011

I've Got a Theory: The List

I'll admit: I'm a list-maker. I make lists for everything. Lists cover my desk, my kitchen counters, my fridge. I kind of make them often. In fact, a couple of days ago, my son sat next to me while I had my blog open, and he pointed to that About Me paragraph over there on the right and said, "You should probably change that line that says 'I make lists as often as I eat lunch.' It makes it sound like you eat lunch ALL THE TIME."

But lists are a good thing! Really. I even have a theory about them.

You see, in your brain you have spots to hold a items in a list. The average person has six slots. Really incredible people have ten. A select few have a freakishly large number. (In your main To-Do list. You've got lots of other lists in your brain, too. They look remarkably similar to your main To-Do list.) Your list stuff fills those slots.

But once your list spots are full, if you add another thing anyway, it just flops down on top of the first thing in your list.

And these things are heavy! One spot can definitely NOT hold two things. So it breaks the slot, and the stuff from that list breaks through to the next line... and the next line... and the next line...
Until all the lines are broken, and the list is all free-floating in your brain. That's what causes overwhelmed, stressed-out feelings to surface. (Unless you're one of the few that thinks it looks like confetti, and then your brain thinks, PARTY!)

I know what you're thinking. Sometimes I just have TOO MANY things in my list! Oh, no! What do I do to keep it from breaking apart?! (Or something entirely less dramatic.)

The answer's easy. Transfer the things in your brain list to paper lists, and it thereby frees up brain lists. Your brain's happy. The people around you are happy. All is well with the world.

Oh! But it does remind me of a quote!

“I write down everything I want to remember. That way, instead of spending a lot of time trying to remember what it is I wrote down, I spend the time looking for the paper I wrote it down on.”
~Beryl Pfizer

Just keep telling yourself that all is well with the world, and you'll be alright. But tell me: Are you a list maker?



P.S. If you want to enter the DIVERGENT giveaway and haven't yet, you still have until tomorrow night!

37 comments:

Joshua said...

All my lists are mental. It freaks people out because I don't write things down, but can recall them whenever I need.

It's especially helpful if I go out for trivia.

JeffO said...

My list generally runs like this:
1. Remember what you need to do.
2. See number 1.
It's not the most effective list in the world.

I once worked with a woman who would sit in a staff meeting for an hour with a pad in front of her, and never write a thing down. A month later, she'd stop me in the hall and say something like, "Jeff, do you remember when we talked about [insert item that seemed completely inconsequential at the time, but is suddenly very important]? Have you made any progress on that?"

It was freaky.

BECKY said...

I'm exactly like you, Peggy! Lists upon lists...

My memory has gotten worse over the years and I've always said it's because the older we get, the more info and memories are crammed into our brain until it just can't hold any more! (especially us writers!)

Love your quote, too. I've seen that somewhere before and thought, Yep, that's me!

Ruth Josse said...

I do not make lists. But I think my brain list only holds like two or three items and still looks like confetti floating around so I should probably start making them. Another great theory!

Kelley said...

You crack me up. So funny.

I make lists. Especially for work. I have Post-it notes that hand from the bottom of my desktop computer, reminding me every minute all the things that need to get done.

Angela Cothran said...

I LOVE lists too :) But lately my mind looks like your last free form example. I'll out it on my list to fix it.

Tasha Seegmiller said...

I like lists. Sometimes, because I like my list so much, I will write down what I got done and then cross it off just to make my list look better.

Abby Fowers said...

I am a total list maker. They save me. At least I can remember what I have to do and don't spend all my time worrying about what I've "forgot!"

Chantele Sedgwick said...

Oh, yes. I'm a total list maker. I love making lists. My hubby thinks I'm funny, but it makes me happy! :D And crossing things off my lists? Best. Feeling. Ever. ;)

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

I'm totally a list maker. And often my brain feels like confetti. So there you go. :)

Kristine said...

I am a list maker who forgets to make the lists. So they flop around in my brain. And don't always get done...

Leigh Ann said...

I'm a list maker, if only to convince myself that I've actually been accomplishing something....

Tara Tyler said...

total list maker
i have slips of paper all over, i try to organize them once a week.

crossing things off the list is the best feeling!

WilyBCool said...

List making can be as much busy work sometimes as actually just avoiding the work to be done! No always, just sometimes. ;D

Jenny S. Morris said...

This is so true. I'm not a list maker, I keep it all in my head. I really need to be more organized.

Oh, and please don't forget to record Chuck, OR call your mom. ;0)

Laila Knight said...

Those are stome extensive lists. Mine usually consist of one or two items..unless it's groceries. :) They are really helpful though.

Jessie Humphries said...

I love your visual aids! I am not kidding right now when I say I was literally making a list when I read this post. Great minds think alike! Or maybe overactive minds do!

Carrie Butler said...

Thank you for making me feel better about the mess of notes on my desk. I like to believe that I keep Post-It (3M) in business. *grins*

Imogen said...

I don't make lists so much as use post it notes. I love those things. The wall above my desk is peppered with them. But I make lots of lists when going away somewhere. I have a deadly fear of forgetting to bring something.

Krista M said...

Making lists, I am good at. Actually completing said lists... not so much. :)

Lynda R Young said...

lol, I love that quote.
I write lists all the time because I love crossing things off (plus I'm always forgetting thigns if I don't write them down).

Talei said...

Oh, lordy! I am the Queen of Lists! I have a list for everything and I have lists of lists. I do mind-maps and I keep excel sheets for packing - yes, I do! *exhales* I can't live without my lists... ;-)

Iain said...

I'm not a list maker. I read a memory mapping book, and can memorise the order of an entire pack of cards, or if you give a date for this century or the last one, I can tell you what day of the week it is on.
BUT, that’s not why I don't make lists. I find that the way to stay happy is to only have one thing on my list at a time. I finish the task, and then think: what’s next?
I know it's not the most efficient way of doing things, but you have to remember, I'm a bloke and can't multi-task. ;o)

S.P. Bowers said...

I'll confess to multiple lists a day. It keeps me sane cause my mental list is about two lines long.

tfwalsh said...

My brain always feels very scattered... hehe

i'm erin. said...

I'm a lister. I write them all the time. but I'm also a ninety percenter. So only 9 out of ten things get done. Sometimes I think I'm actually a fifty percenter.

Karen said...

I am a list maker. I already have all of my blog post topics for the next year on a list.

Though I will say some of my lists are a bit scattered because I jot things down in whatever spot is convenient at the moment - on a receipt, on a catalog, on a napkin,...

Sometimes I do rely on my brain list though, which I admit often looks like the party confetti. I almost choked on my cough drop laughing when I read "PARTY!"

Lan said...

I am a massive list maker but I think my love of making lists comes from my love of procrastination. If I'm making a list of the things I need to do, I won't need to start doing them until the list is done!

Lindi said...

Besides using the calendar on my phone, I use the memo feature constantly now. I memo myself everything I need to remember.
I guess that's a list of sorts.
And I've never really been a list person. Until I turned 50- :)

Talli Roland said...

I'm only a list maker when my head feels it can't hold any more items... then I crack and write them all down.

Susanna Leonard Hill said...

I didn't used to be, but since I passed 45 I write down lists for EVERYTHING or there's no hope of remembering. There's just too much going on and too many things to keep track of!!!

Cynthia Chapman Willis said...

Ha! I love that quote and your son's comment! I can relate as I love lists. Like you, I keep lots and lots of them where ever I roam. In fact, I now have an ipad with a list app! It's fabulous. Especially the sense of accomplishment in crossing things off the list. It shows tasks have actually been accomplished. Yea!

Peggy Eddleman said...

Joshua-- Me = jealous.

Jeff-- Hahaha! Sounds pretty effective to me! And I want to be like the freaky lady.

Becky-- I love your theory! And your lists upon lists. :)

Ruth-- Unless you LIKE the confetti. :)

Kelley-- Ahh, Post-Its. A listmaker's best friend.

Angela-- Hahahaha! You'll put it on your list to fix it! Hehe. Sounds like something I'd do.

Tasha-- I do that, too! After completing something, you SHOULD get the satisfaction of crossing it off!

Abby-- EXACTLY.

Chantele-- I agree. Best feeling ever. And happy making.

Susan-- I think that's what happens when you have things push their way onto your list at such a high and/or constant speed. Best of luck, ultra-busy girl!

Kristine-- hahahahaha!

Leigh Ann-- Ahh. Now that's the REAL key. Start listing EVERYTHING. Brushed your teeth? Great! Cross it off. Ate breakfast? Great! Another crossed off. Eases the sting. :)

Tara-- Oh! Organize them once a week! I'm putting that on my to-do list right now.

WilyBCool-- Hahaha! Are you saying there are funner ways of avoiding work than list making?

Jenny-- Haha! Thanks for the reminder!

Laila-- But the more extensive the list, the more times you get to cross things off! :)

Jessie-- Hehe. That made me all kinds of happy.

Carrie-- :) It's like we're banding together for a great cause!

Imogen-- Post-its are the fun version of notes! LOVE the mental image of the wall behind your desk. :)

Krista-- hahahahaha! Yeah... there's always that.

Lynda-- Ahhh. I'm a big fan of crossing them off, too.

Talei-- Yes, you are the queen! Seriously bowing down to you right now. And wishing I had mind maps and excel sheets.

Iain-- Wow! Your memory mapping is quite impressive! And I say do what works.

S.P.-- My multiple lists a day keep me sane, too. :)

tfwalsh-- It sounds like you love the party confetti, no?

Erin-- Hahahaha! I SO feel like that sometimes! Thanks for putting it into words. I'm still laughing!

Karen-- Blog post topics for a YEAR?! You are officially the most organized person I know.

Lan-- I love of procrastination! I guess I do that sometimes, too. I hadn't even though of it that way!

Lindi-- I use the memo on my phone, too! Sometimes a napkin just isn't handy. ;)

Talli-- You must have a lot of lines on your mental list! Wanna trade?

Susanna-- Exactly. Too much going on and too many things to keep track of. :)

Cynthia--A list app! I SO want that. And I agree-- crossing off thing is THE BEST!

Stephanie said...

I love the visuals in this post! Too cute. And I'm an expert list-maker. I'm just a crappy do-the-things-on-the-list-er. And an even crappier remember-where-I-put-that-stupid-list-in-the-first-place-er.

Anonymous said...

Awesome and cool!!!

jhl said...

Stephanie sent me. :) And oh, yes ... I make lists. SO. MANY. LISTS.

But I get stuff done, and revel in the satisfaction of drawing lines through completed tasks or aquired items!

Peggy Eddleman said...

Stephanie-- Your comment made me laugh out loud! Then I read it to my kids, and barely got it out through the laughing! Oh, I so understand.

Anon-- Isn't it just? ;)

jhl-- Aww! Sweet Stephanie. I heart lists. I heart the satisfaction of drawing lines through tasks even more.