There's a list for that
Minor MusingsI'm a list maker. I do grocery lists and to-do lists and honey-do lists. There's just something satisfying about crossing things off when they're done. It helps you know you're really accomplishing something. And throwing the list away when you cross off the last item is absolutely therapeutic.
Published: October 11, 2009
Published: October 11, 2009
However, I also do lists that I never throw away. I keep a list of our Christmas decorations so I don't forget anything when I begin decking the halls. Each year I add the new things I buy and cross off things that get broken or dilapidated.
I keep a running list of gift ideas for everyone in my family. I start a new one immediately after Christmas each year. But I generally keep the old one too, so I don't duplicate. Then, all year long, I add and delete things. If I hear my daughter mention breaking her favorite hand mirror, that goes on my list. A month later, if I find out she already bought one, I cross it off.
When I'm watching TV and they advertise something I know my son would like it goes on the list. If I'm shopping and I see something my husband needs it goes on the list. I may buy it right then but, if I'm not sure, at least I have it down (including the store where I saw it) so I'll remember to check back.
When fall rolls around, each year, I look over my gift list and begin keeping an eye out for things whenever I shop. It gives me a head start on holiday shopping and the task doesn't seem so daunting. When I buy something on the list I put a check by it and usually note the price so I can keep a running total and not overspend. It also allows me to spread out the cost.
I keep a standard trip list so I don't have to start from scratch every time I pack a suitcase. It has all the things I know I'll need plus several that I may need but probably wouldn't think to include if I had to pack from scratch on the spur of the moment.
I keep lists of interesting words and expressions from conversations, TV, books and magazines. I also list plot ideas for the novels I'm working on. All writers keep such lists. Some of those jottings may actually be used, but most won't, at least not word for word. Still, they are "grist for the mill." One of my favorite writers, Joan Didion, called them "bits of the mind's string too short to use." I like that.
I keep a list by my computer of words I tend to misspell. Consulting my list is faster than looking in the dictionary. I've always found that particularly aggravating. Just think about it. How does it make sense to look in the dictionary for how a word is spelled, when you have to already know how it's spelled to find it in the dictionary? And computer spell check ... don't even get me started on how unreliable that is.
(Okay, that was a rabbit trail. Back to my lists.)
About now you're probably thinking, "Where does she keep all these master lists, and how can she have them all at hand when she needs them? Easy.
I keep a jotter in my purse and I regularly transfer notes from there to a journal, where my master lists are stored. When I need to take a master list along, I scan it and tuck it in my purse. It's not a fool-proof system. A Blackberry would probably work better, but I can't afford one. Besides, you need to have a master's degree in computer science or be under 30 years old to operate those things. Obviously, I don't qualify on either count.
One last list I keep is column ideas. Sometimes the "musings" are not automatic and I need inspiration. If you ever think of something I should add to that list, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'll add you to my thank-you list.