Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Ode to the List

I love lists. The idea for this post came from a conversation with my friend about organization and keeping lists. We both agreed that lists are the only way to go. They are the only way to keep track of all of the things we need to do every day. I don't remember when I started making lists. I guess it came about in high school when I had to write down my homework every night. But I remember the moment I started to use the list as a working tool. It my first year out of college, working at my first corporate job and one of my bosses was coming back from a week-long trip. She had left a list of several things to do, that I was unable to finish due to unforeseen issues that came up in the office. She was not pleased and the conversation went something like this:
Boss:"GEM, I thought you were going to file all my catalogues"
GEM: "I couldn't get to it, I didn't have time"
Boss: "I don't understand, what were you doing?"
GEM: "Umm... I had this and that and umm.... (weak, I know, but did I mention I was 22?)
Boss: "I just don't see what could have taken up your time, I didn't leave you that much to do, I expected you to have this done, I don't see what took up all of your time"
GEM: "Ok, I'll do it now" (run to the bathroom to cry)

Ok, so maybe this doesn't seem so traumatic in retrospect. But this was the first time in my professional career that I had disappointed someone I was trying to impress. And what was the worst part, I had been REALLY busy. I had A LOT to do that week, but I just couldn't remember it. I hadn't written it down. I just stuttered and sounded generally useless. From then on, lists have been my life raft keeping me afloat in the working world. At first they were simply to document my time, but increasingly to keep track of all the small things and get them out of my head and onto paper. I make lists daily. I have special list paper. Sometimes I rewrite the lists so they look pretty. I just love them. Watching a person try to recount in their head the things they need to do makes me nervous. It's right up there with people who don't keep calendars. SDM, you know who you are:)


  1. Check this out from a great lady whose site I wrote a guest post for - http://listbean.com/

    Sometimes I re-write to make look pretty too!

  2. Hey! I have a detailed calendar in my head. Have I ever missed a date?

  3. I TOTALLY remember you telling me this story!!!!

  4. Tell me when you've graduated to Excel spreadsheets that chart the amount of hours that you have spent on each particular aspect of your day so that you can cross it off when you are done...then, you know you are really over the moon crazy ecstatic about LISTS!!!!!! LOVELY LOVELY LISTS!!!!