I love a good list. (I know that’s something I share with a lot of the regulars here at Love is the Best Medicine 🙂 ) For me, there’s something about writing everything down in a list, that gets it all under control and makes it easier to tackle. Categorising is always good, and if there’s an opportunity for colour-coding, I’ll take it.
And ticking everything off. That’s the reward, isn’t it? Sometimes accompanied by chocolate.
So of course, when the New Year (a new decade, even!) rolled around, I had my pen at the ready. I’m one of those people who still has a physical diary, an A4 day to the page one, which is great for jotting everything down in one place, and making lists.
But this year, my enthusiasm for the New Year’s list had palled. Maybe it’s because this time last year I had a back injury, which meant that about the only thing on my list was to get back on my feet. Anything that involved more than the minimum of physical activity stayed on the list, transferred from one to the next for months. For a while, it seemed that my lists only reminded me that I had a mountain in front of me, and I was climbing it frustratingly slowly.
Finally, I took a different approach and decided to be a little kinder to myself. Inspired by Facebook pictures from friends and fellow writers, showing some very impressive looking stacks of books written in the last ten years, I made a list of all the things I had done in the last year. And I’ll admit that it surprised me. I wrote the better part of five books. I rested up and then exercised my way back to full health. Somehow, in the face of those two big things, the little things didn’t rankle quite so much. And I when I thought about it, there were quite a few smaller things to add to the list as well. However did I get this far in life without knowing how to knit socks?
So, this year the list-making has taken a new, and different turn. Yes, I still have the To-Do list, because otherwise I’d forget things. But the list in my diary, the most important list because it’s not jotted down on a spare piece of paper and thrown away when it’s served its purpose, has a slightly different function. It’s a list of all the things I HAVE done that day.
So far it’s working rather nicely. I jot everything down and go to bed satisfied, rather than wondering what I did today other than stare at my computer screen and mosey around in the kitchen (Ah yes! That’s right, I wrote a couple of chapters… Then I de-scaled the coffee machine, went for a walk, and… So it goes. I write down all the little, everyday things because those are the things I’d be putting on my To-Do list for the day.)
Maybe this is the start of something new. Maybe by the end of the year, my lists will have become more elaborate, and I’ll find that I’m an inveterate diarist. Or maybe I’ll abandon my Have-Already-Done lists, in favour of the To-Do lists again. But so far, this year is the year of the list, but not quite in the way I’d expected.
I’ve heard people say that when they write a list they include a few things that they’ve already done, so that they have the satisfaction of ticking them off straight away. I’ve long been guilty of that 🙂 So here’s the question. What’s the very best part of a list? The list itself, or the ticks?