September 9, 2015

Make a List: How to Organize Your Life (& Everyone Else’s).

Carissa Rogers/Flickr

I have a list on my counter that has on it all the stuff I have to buy at the grocery store.

Well, actually it’s more than one list.

It’s four lists, because there are four grocery stores that I go to, and each grocery store has to have its own list. Makes perfect sense to me.

I’m a list-maker.

In fact, next to the lists for the grocery stores is a list of all the stuff that I have to do around the house like, “dry cleaners,” “return items to Amazon,” “cancel doctor’s appointments,” et cetera.

Then I have a list of all the stories I want to write—even this story about lists is on that list.

I have a list of all my computer passwords, a list of all the supplements I take and when I am supposed to take them, a list of all the deadlines I have to meet during the week for the lawyers I work for, a list of all the new vegan recipes I have tried and whether they were good or not, and a list of everybody’s birthdays, because if I don’t put even my own daughters’ birthdays on that list I’ll forget them (I learned the hard way).

I also have a list of all the things I want my husband to do.

Right at the top of the list I have the words “Honey, Please” instead of “Honey Do.” I thought “Honey Please” was more polite.

That list has things on it like, “fix bathroom light switch,” “stop kitchen faucet from dripping” and “move the wall in living room.”  He’s really good about reading his “Honey Please,” list and says it’s way better to have everything I want done written down in one place than to have me keep on asking him about when he’s gonna do this or that—except he used the “nagging” word, which was why I made a list.

“So, putting things on a list takes the nagging out of it?” He said while muttering something about lists not being any different than nagging, and walked away.

I saw an article once about somebody who found lists in grocery stores and saved them. He even published a book of all the lists he found. I was amazed by what people put on their lists.

Just the other day, I saw a meme on my Facebook page of somebody’s grocery list. It had two items on it:

“Beer,” and “Sh*t that goes with beer.”

That’s not the kind of list I make. I would never put “sh*t” on a list.

I make neat lists with how many of this thing or that thing I want to buy. I also make lists about whether I’ve made this call or that call and what the result was so that I don’t forget and call them again. I make lists for who’s coming over for Thanksgiving and a list for the menu and a list for the groceries to buy for the menu.

When we go on vacation I make lists of what to pack and—

Geez. It even sounds to me like I make a lot of lists.

But honestly. I don’t know how I would sleep if I didn’t make lists.

I used to keep a pad by my bed so that when I woke up in the middle of the night I could write something down for one of my lists and I wouldn’t have to lay awake thinking about it anymore. But then I got married and it was a tad disruptive for me to be turning on the light in the middle of the night so I could write something down on a list.

“Honey, what are you doing?”

“Oh, just writing something down.”

“Well, you turned on the light and woke me up.”

“I’m sorry baby. If I don’t write it down I’ll forget it.”

“What’s so important that you have to write it down in the middle of the night?”

Of course by then, I’d forgotten what it was.


When I was raising my three daughters, each one had a separate list of chores that she had to do during the week, but they began trading lists without telling me. I got really confused by it all, because I didn’t know who did what but they insisted I didn’t need to know who did what. I just needed to know it was done.

I still have one of those lists; I saved it. It’s about 40 years old. It has on it things like “wash dishes,” “fold laundry” and “make brownies.”

It’s in my Trunk of Special Things to Hand Down to my Children When I Die.

One of my daughters told me once that I was a mother who parented by list and that the last thing she wanted to see when I died was another one of my lists.

“Besides, mom,” she said, “I bet when I open that trunk, right on top it I’ll find a list of everything that’s inside.”

Dang it.

She was right.


Relephant Read:

How I Stopped my “To Do” List from Tormenting me.


Author: Carmelene Siani

Editor: Toby Israel

Photo: Carissa Rogers/Flickr // Purple Slog/Flickr


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