In Praise of Lists

I am the type of person who scours the Internet to see what it is that I am doing wrong. Having spent some time perusing Twitter (to find some nice photos of Jeremy Vine and Karen Clifton in Strictly. I have left Strictly now they have gone. Too many semi danced trained, low level showbiz types for me – sorry.) I have come across a few things talking about the tyranny of lists and getting rid of this oppressive scourge. Well not me matey. I have a list. I have an ongoing list. My list is going nowhere. I will admit that the whole planner thing has gone a bit too far. I have never really felt the need to buy stickers with little glasses of water on them to tell me to drink six pints a day or whatever. I also freely admit that I find it a teeny bit sad that people spend fifteen quid on a stamp that says “To Do” rather than just scrawl it. (Actually, I don’t even need to that. If it’s written down – it needs to be done. That is all)

Firstly, I notice that a lot of these people who rattle on about leaving yourself free to run through God’s Open Fields of Thoughtfulness or whatever are not burdened by my working patterns. I am full time – nine to five. I can’t break off for a couple of hours to sit on a hill. It won’t go down well with the Powers That Be. I cannot count on their understanding. This does not just apply to people who work. Lots of people are so committed to lots of things, they just can’t “go with the flow”. 

Also I am old and I forget things and if things that I need to do are not staring balefully out at me when I open my diary, there is every chance that they won’t get done. I am the King, Queen and Princess Royal of mentally sidelining things that I don’t fancy. Writing it down will make it unavoidable; a Thing That Must Be Done. Consequently, when the task is complete, I have found that there are few things more satisfying than running a highlighter pen through one of these conscience prodders.

I find, it makes time for me. It really does. I use a list to both write down what I need to do but also to limit my expectations. I may need to do eight hundred and forty things but if I write down the three most urgent for the next five evenings, I will usually do those things and then skip off and do what I want to do. This means things get done and I feel good. Otherwise there is every chance that you will find me curled up in a ball under the bed crying because I am overwhelmed by how much needs to be done and I have spent the whole evening watching re-runs of Only Connect – even though I have already seen every episode- just to take my mind off them.

As I age, I am more aware of how quickly time passes. The prospect of having a life that, one day, allows me to lie on my belly in the sun and daily contemplate God’s goodness is very attractive but today, I have so many things I have to do, that I need to remember them. 


1 Comment

  1. November 20, 2015 / 9:23 am

    I did read about a woman whose tombstone said "She did everything on her to-do list" and concluded that she must have died from exhaustion. I confess to putting things on my lists like 'eat breakfast' just for the sheer joy of something to cross off. And like you, I sometimes spend a quiet moment reading a book or article by some deeply worthy Christian writer, in the hopes of inspiration, and want to SCREAM at them. They begin "as I sat on a hill in Cyprus, looking across the blue Mediterranean, pondering on the greatness of God…" and advocating I should do similar to boost my prayer life – and I know that many of the readers, not just me, have neither time nor money for such 'retreats'. There is work to do, laundry to fold, family to feed, a report to be written – and others are depending on me. Like you I am learning to do the most important tasks first and then spend time chilling out with recordings of V Coren. The good book says [mark 6;31, KJV] "Come apart and rest awhile." As I age I am learning that the resting bit should be done as soon as I am in danger of coming apart [and the ironing can wait] blessings x

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