I’m surrounded by lists – lists of my own making and, occasionally, lists my other half has thoughtfully appended to mine. This last, of course, has me checking his list to make sure nothing is duplicated. Such a waste of time duplicating lists.
I write lists to remind me what it is that I should be doing on any particular day. I already know, of course, what it is I should be doing but the compulsion to write a list is all consuming.
I’m not sure if it’s the action of writing a list or the action of crossing off completed tasks which I find more satisfying. There’s something primitively pleasing about being able to tell, at a glance, just how productive I’ve been during the day. Of course I could, arguably, have achieved more if I’d not taken time out to write the list.
At work, I write a list in my diary to remind myself of the tasks I need to have completed before the end of the working day. No, scratch that, I write a list of tasks to confirm to myself that I’ve actually done something. I’m bored at work. Sometimes (read most days), I write a plot list or a scene list – then populate it with thoughts about what needs to happen in the scene(s) I’m working on next. I tend to work on my novel at the weekend, so anything I’ve written during the week gets forgotten and new lists are made. In my defence I think the second set is always an improvement on the first. It’s as though having got the dross out of my head during the week, it’s then clear to work properly on the task in hand.
Christmas is a compulsive list maker’s heaven. I’ll have lists for presents, lists for cards, lists for the menu for Christmas Eve with recipes attached, lists for Christmas Dinner – including when to peel the veg and when to whip the cream. You’re right, of course, I don’t need lists for the latter – I’ve been cooking Christmas dinner for years. Christmas Eve is always a big day in our house. We’ve an established tradition (must be 20 years now), where we have our neighbour’s round for a meal. At first it used to be pea and ham soup, then it progressed to a buffet, and eventually transmogrified into a full sit down five course meal. I need the list for this meal. I plan months in advance, testing out different dishes and make a list of our favourites. A second list is the result of narrowing the first down to something sensible. A third list has all the ingredients I will need, and a fourth list has the timings of everything I need to do during the day.
What can I say – I’m a fully paid up member of the list makers guild.
Holidays are particularly good for list makers like myself. For a start there’s the clothes I need to pack. The toiletries bag, the handbag, the carry-on case and all the little essentials which may get forgotten if they’re not on the list. These essentials range from my Kindle (as if I’d forget it – My Precious goes everywhere with me), my camera (ditto), chargers for said electronic essentials, iPad and phone. Most importantly, I have to put ‘travel documents’ on the list – I’d forget them otherwise – maybe.