Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Getting things done

In a recent post I linked to a site that could, quite possibly, create the greatest timesuck ever in my life.

My name is Kaleigh, and I'm addicted to making lists.

The odd bit of double-helix that causes my daughter to obsess about office supplies almost certainly comes from me, as I can spend hours (hours!) poring over planner refills. I have about five calendars that serve different purposes, as well as color-coded files.

At work, my love of organization serves me well, and intimidates the hell out of student interns. They see how I organize the financial files and tremble. Occasionally I'll catch a gleam in a student's eye and sense that I'm with a kindred spirit. A person who separates the big paper clips from the small ones. A person who prefers a specific type of pen (me? I like gel pens best, medium point, black ink).

But the lists are my favorite.

They serve a practical function most of the time. When I'm really slammed at work, I've found that I'm 100% more effective if I stop for a few minutes, list the tasks that must be accomplished and their deadlines, and write a prioritized list. Sometimes the list is just for the day, and sometimes it's a week or more. And since I write down every single thing that needs to be done (even the stuff that doesn't bear mentioning, the daily routine things), the list is long. But including items that I'm going to do, period, gives me the opportunity to cross something off the list, which provides reinforcement, giving me a sense of accomplishment.

When we were about to put our old house on the market, I was taking a large dose of prednisone that kept me awake most of the night. Since I was also very fidgety, reading didn't help much, and I didn't allow myself to watch television all night. Instead, I made lists. Lists of things we needed to do to get the house ready to sell. Lists of things to pack. Lists of things for the new house. Lists of all the things I hated about prednisone. And, in my sleepless state, I was able to cross things off those lists.

I won't even describe some of the spreadsheets I made on excel at that time. It's scary.

But with various projects going on at the house, I found myself needing a way to wrap my head around it. And started making a list. The beauty of making that list on the computer, however, is that tasks can be moved around, reprioritized, refined, without getting a new sheet of paper.

This week's list is pretty easy. I think I'll get something checked off after work today. Because I can.


slouching mom said...

funny, i did the list thing for a long, long time. and then i lost a list and found it so devastating that i decided to try to wean myself off of lists. now i have a more normal (read: shorter) list.

there is a middle ground with lists, i think.

i'll work this out eventually said...

oh--em--geee....i write lists. i write grocery lists that i don't need yet, i write gift lists for christmas in june, i write lists of things that need to be done but never will....i love a good list. but I REALLY LOVE crossing something off of a list. it's AMAZING!!!!! [also, black gel pens, medium, are the best. specfically the pilot G2, they're the best]

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