The Tyranny of the List

The Tyranny of the List

I have a lot of lists. When I realize there's something I need to do, I write it down so I won't forget. My list making exploded soon after I became a father, because the added complexity of tracking one (and now two) extremely fast and mobile and clever little persons 24-7 so taxes my poor mind that otherwise I'd forget things left and right.

So: lots of lists, all done in my marginally-legible handwriting (arrows included).

I have lists of things I want to hike and ski, lists of things to add to this website, lists of things that are broken on this website that need fixing, lists of things that aren't broken but that I'd still love to fix, lists of things I'd like to buy, lists of things I need to get rid of, lists of things I need to do right now (example: soccer 10:30 a.m. bring water & cheddar bunnies), and so on...

I accumulate my lists in stacks of paper on my desk, and when they get out of control, I transfer as much of the non-priority stuff as I can to email drafts in my cloud account, where they sit and wait.

My wife asks if I feel good when I cross something off a list and I always say no, because I know there's always something else out there that needs to get done. I suppose I do have a fantasy of someday somehow crossing every item off every list, but of course that's never going to happen, not unless I revert to a bushman's life. And even then...

And then this morning, it suddenly came to me: I need a new list. The title of this list will be, "The List of Things that will Never Get Done." It's perfect, because anything on that list will never cause me anxiety. I mean, if it will never get done, I don't need to worry about doing it, right? Anxiety-free listing.

All I have to do is figure out how to transfer everything on my other lists to the new list, the One List, and then I will be free. Anyhow, gotta go. Soccer practice is coming up, and then I need to vacuum...

— October 14, 2011

Andy Lewicky is the author and creator of SierraDescents

richmeyer October 24, 2011 at 8:48 pm

6 inches to the right of my laptop sits at least a half dozen lists.... (some probably date back over a year or two) It does make me feel good to cross an item off the list.
Thanks for the brilliant consolidation idea. I'll put on my list of stuff to do tomorrow.

Bill Adams November 11, 2011 at 8:47 pm

I hear ya brother! We lead parallel lives.

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