Sunday, April 22, 2007


My friend and former co-worker used to say "I am useless without my lists." I think I am too. I make lists at work, I make them at home. It's partly so that I don't forget things, and partly so that I get the satisfaction of crossing things off. I mean, sometimes when I remember something I need to do, I put it on the list, do it right away, and cross it off the list. Feeling of accomplishment-- check.

So it shouldn't be too surprising that after we buried A and my parents left, I made a list. It had big things on it, and small. And I tried to do at least a couple each day, so I didn't feel completely useless. My PCOS meds, for example. Dr. B said to wait until I started eating more or less normally again before resuming them. I think it was his kind way of saying, you will stuff your face from grief and lactating. It would be better to wait until after you stop. But I found my script 3 days after the funeral, called the pharmacy that day to see if they had the pills in stock, filled the prescription the next day, started taking it the day after. When I got woozy from half a glass of wine that day, my friends got worried. I explained it was because of the meds. A very reasonable "why did you start already?" was met with "it was on my list" and "don't laugh. I do what I can."

So how does a list-maker successfully procrastinate? For loooooong periods of time, I mean. That's right-- stop making lists. If there is no list, you can't see just how many things you need to do, and you can blow off all of them in favor of reading the blogs. Yes, an occasional item gets into your head and bugs you for a while. But the genius of this tactic is that in the absence of a list, it still seems like the only thing that needs to be done, and if there is only that one thing, well, it can wait until tomorrow, can't it?

I think I am ready to be somewhat more productive now. And by that I mean I am distressed by how little of anything I got done in the last month, and how many different things knock on my brain at one time or another to tell me they need doing.

So here's my first list in a long time:

1. Make a to-do list.

This even looks like I might be able to handle it.


Sara said...

One of my best friends is like this - even adding items she's already done to the list to feel like she's accomplished something. I try it out all the time, but it has no effect - I don't really care about the list and I forget to look at it anyway.

Lori said...

I'm a list maker too. But not nearly so much as I used to be. I don't know if that is because I have realized that having a list doesn't really change my productivity level, or if I have just gotten too lazy to even write the list.

I do know that lists have helped me most during times I am highly distracted, and in a bit of a fog. Sort of like grief, huh? So, maybe a list is a good idea. Good ahead, make that to do list. But make sure there are some things on there that are just for you, and have the potential to make you smile.

Julia said...

I really wasn't a list maker until after I started working after Monkey was born. I still had fog on the brain, and I am not sure it ever completely lifted. Certainly got worse when I was pregnant with A, and it's showing no evidence of improvement so far.

You should see me pack for a trip. It starts with making a list, and that usually takes longer than the actual packing, because after I have a list, it's just a matter of putting everything into a suitcase.

And I did make that list. Now let's see how much that helps.

Lori said...

Oh yes, I make packing lists too!! And in fact, I always pack the list so I will be able to make sure we haven't forgotten anything when we are packing to return home!! Now, how is that for list-obsessed!

Adelynne said...

It's totally genetic. I get that satisfaction from crossing off "attend class."

And the more things I have to do the more I need the list.

Julia said...

wow-- you two have me beat.
But I have thought of making a more or less standard packing list file so I can print it out and to reduce the time it takes me to make a custom one each time.

Bon said...

i'm new...just found you over at Catherine's.

this post really hit me hard, because today, in the midst of packing for a trip with a one year old and looking for a notebook in which to write down important airline ticket & flight info, i found a set of lists i'd made almost exactly two years ago to the day, while i was on bedrest trying to keep my firstborn from coming. all that listing to fill the fear.

and not a list that actually got addressed for months after he died, because i just couldn't. it was the strangest experience, the paralysis of grief, and yet freeing...i realized how little the minutiae really matter in the grand scheme of things. and when i got back to making lists, and checking them off, it was never quite as all-consuming again. which in the end, in my case, is probably good. :)

i'm sorry about A. so sorry. glad to have found you.