I read a grand wee post over at Me, Mine and Other Bits yesterday about making lists.
I have always been a list-maker. When I was very young, and didn’t actually have anything important to write down, I’d just make lists of things like 10 favourite colours, or 20 tastiest foods, or 30 best Premiership footballers.
(I have dozens of notebooks full of that kind of list, which I must dig out one day because I’m sure they’ll give me a chuckle).
But at university, and then at work, list writing started to become more important, and now as a mother and wife it is how I keep on top of EVERYTHING.
Shortly after having DorkySon, when my brain was so addled by exhaustion and hormones, I wrote a new list every day, and it would genuinely include things like ‘take a shower’ … ‘unload dishwasher’ … ‘cup of tea’. If I got to the end of the day and I’d ticked off everything on the list, it was a massive achievement.
Thankfully, things have progressed a lot since then, but in order to keep the house, my family and myself in some kind of order, I still make a new to-do list every Monday morning. I’m not ashamed to say that I’ve got them down to an art form.
It has to be lined A4 paper, and it has to be in blue biro.
On the right hand side at the top, I write a list of the blog posts that I have brewing in my head, that I want to try and get down on paper sometime soon.
On the right hand side at the bottom I write a list of things that I need to buy or order online that week – groceries, birthday flowers, new pyjamas for DorkySon – that kind of thing.
Finally, down the left hand side, I put three headings;
That seems fairly self-explanatory, but it’s not as simple as it looks. That ellipsis is very important.
If I take the time to highlight (in yellow highlighter) an item in the ‘Today’ section then it will actually get done today. Otherwise it’s non-urgent, and it will likely as not get bumped into ‘This Week’.
If I take the time to draw a biro star beside an item in ‘This Week’ then it will actually get done this week. Otherwise, it’ll drop down the list into ‘This Month…’
If an item makes it into ‘This Month…’ there are only two possible outcomes.
Either it will sit there for a month or two before I have a panic one Monday morning and zoom it right back up to the ‘Today’ section (this often happens with thank you cards, tax returns, and renewing household insurance).
Or, after three or four months I will be so sick of it sitting there, languishing at the bottom the list and making me feel guilty, that one Monday I’ll just casually forget to add it and it’ll disappear forever. Like it was never there.
It is always a little sad when an item falls off a list without ever having had a satisfying line drawn through the middle of it; the decisive swipe that signifies it done. But I figure that those items – things like entering a writing competition, or setting up a new social media profile – were not meant to be. We all have to prioritise our time and energy, and making lists helps that happen. If things never make it to the top of the list, then there’s probably a good reason for that.
There is a good Scottish expression – an old one – that Donna from Mummy Central reminded me of the other day. It says ‘What’s for ye, won’t go by ye.’
It’s as applicable to lists as it is to life.
Nominations have just opened for this year’s MAD Blog Awards. Last year I was chuffed to pieces that your support saw me end up as a finalist in the Best New Blog category. I’m obviously not eligible for that again, but if you think I deserve to be nominated in another category this year such as Best Blog Writer or Best Family Life Blog you can do so on the MADS website here.