Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The lure of lists

I love writing things down.  I love making lists.  Lists and organization are a very important part of a miser-mom lifestyle.

One of the most important things that lists do for me is to help keep things neat (and out-of-sight), while still allowing me to not freak out about forgetting them.  Here's an example:  my office desk.  Like many people, I used to have many different stacks of paper; a new important piece of paper would come in, and I would put it in its own place on the desk so I wouldn't forget I had that important thing to do.  

The problems are obvious.  When I was at my busiest, my desk was full of stacks of paper.  I didn't have much space to work; there was a lot of visual distraction; important papers got lost anyway.  

Now I make one single stack on the bookshelf of all those important "to do" pieces of paper, and I make a small list of what is in that stack.  The small list stays on my desk, and I can easily read that list to see if there's something urgent.  In my busiest times, I can let that stack grow, doing only the most immediate tasks;  but in calmer times I can work my way through the list-and-stack, making a new (and shorter) list when the old list gets too cluttered.

Here's an example of a "to do" list, each of which has a paper or magazine in my stack.
  • Call dentist
  • Write to a former student who got married.
  • Fill out a form for my boss.
  • Read a brochure and see if I want to file it or toss it.
The list is short because it's summer (I'm not uber-busy right now).  It also uses verbs (things I should do), not nouns, which help me to think about doing something about those pieces of paper.  

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