making a list and checking it twice

A list makes me feel as if I’m in control of things. It’s a little summary of what I have to do. And if I can just get “it” on a list, it’s in line to be done. It will get done.

On Sunday, in The New York Times Book Review, in the essay on the back page,”I’ve Got a Little List,” Arthur Krystal discussed literary lists. He wrote,”Isn’t every list in reality a ceremonial flourish against amnesia and chaos?”

Yes, exactly.

I keep trying different systems. What I really need is one of those hats with a pole that extends out in front of it so that the current list can dangle continuously in front of my eyes…

Lists are the one thing that don’t seem to work for me on the computer. I need them on paper.

I make lists of things as I think of them on whatever is handy (like torn-off corners of envelopes). I make more organized lists on sturdier index cards. Sometimes, I make a series of lists in a small flip notebook. Or, like yesterday, I list on a print-out of my schedule for the day–that way the list is face-up and in my face.

I have Christmas lists: the get-Christmas-started list (which except for setting up the wrapping area is complete), the gift list, the food list…

The “list” has literary beginnings. According to Krystal:

“List,” borrowed from the French word liste, first turns up, in the modern sense, in “Hamlet,” when Horatio reports that Fortinbras has “sharked up a list of landless resolutes”–i.e., indiscriminately put together a makeshift army.

How do you list?

6 thoughts on “making a list and checking it twice

  1. What I need is for you to come and organize my life. I make lists and jot down numbers everywhere. On pieces of papers in drawers, beside my computer, in books. They are everywhere. So when I need to find a note, I have to look in twenty places. Sometimes I open a notebook and say Ah-ha, there it is, weeks, months, years later. I need help. 🙂


  2. Hi, I’m Lisa and I too am a listaholic. I have my work to-do list, my around the house to-do list, my shopping list, my special shopping list, my stuff to do before Christmas list, etc. etc. I get things done when I have a list and the satisfaction of crossing out items on my list actually leads me to add things I’m about to do or have just done, just so I can cross them off. Now you’ve just reminded me that I need to get the “list of the grandkids’ sizes and what they want for Christmas” list done. I’m no good without a list.


  3. Darrelyn, that would be fun! I love organizing–probably too much. But I’ve been busy and right now there are piles all over my study and notes here and there. It’s making me crazy. So I’m going to press post and dive in.


  4. Hi Lisa! [lol] Such a hilarious comment. But there is truth in the satisfaction of crossing things out, which may be why the computer doesn’t do it for me. And I’m no good without a list either.


  5. I too am a list person. If I write it, I will do it. I too am also a paper list person, a discovery of myself I made recently. First I discoverd Evernote: a list person’s online happiness of list making. I made all kinds of lists only never to look at it again.

    On Duotrope, I organized the magazines I wanted to submit to using Duotrope’s system. Like Evernote, I spent hours researching and saving facorites only never to look at it again.

    I’m back to just plain ole paper and pen. It works, and, like you said above, I get the satisfaction of crossing things out.


  6. Tricia, that’s exactly right. Somehow I can ignore lists on the computer. But when it’s on paper, I can’t. It’s odd, but true. Glad I’m not the only one to feel this way.


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