When we did all become so obsessed with lists?
I know I’m guilty of it. I spend hours ticking, crossing, writing, re-writing and colour-coding lists. I even like reading other peoples lists! (If you’re a list obsessive too then go to listography.com and drool.)
I remember when it all began…
I was a rather anxious child (I still am really, both anxious and childish) and I couldn’t get to sleep. My mum said I should write the things I was worried about on a piece of paper, fold it up and then rip the paper into bits. I guess this was meant to symbolise ‘forgetting your troubles’ or at least showing your troubles who the boss is. So, I wrote down what I was worried about, folded the piece of paper up and, instead of ripping it up, I put it on my side table. ‘Great!’ I thought ‘Now I don’t have to worry about forgetting all the important things that I need to worry about.’ Little did I know, in this moment was born my first unintentional ‘to do’ list.
From what I can see, lists are in fashion. Every article I read at the moment is ’23 ways to dye your mustache hair’ or ‘101 reasons to join a nunnery’ or ’41 signs you’re psychic’, etc. It’s as if we see them and think ‘Huh, I can only think of 10 signs, I wonder what the other 31 are…’ This unusual fad of cataloging anything and everything seems to reel in the readers though. Being an avid consumer of other peoples lists myself, I’ve decided this must be my time to shine! So here’s my first list… about lists.
‘5 reasons I love lists’.
1. A list is wonderful excuse not to do the things on your list
You can’t fix all the broken things in your flat if you’re busy writing a list of all the things that need fixing in the flat… I mean, you only have on pair of hands. One thing at a time!
2. A ‘Pro’s and Con’s list’ can solve all difficult decisions
Not sure if you want to be with your boyfriend/girlfriend anymore? Pro’s and Con’s list!
Deciding whether to quit your job? Pro’s and Con’s list!
Not sure if you want ham or cheese in your sandwich? Pro’s and Con’s list!
(Or just have ham and cheese, duh.)
3. The list can defend against spontaneity
For those of you who are spontaneous you may wonder why this is a positive thing.
Well, people who write lists do not like spontaneity! We like order, structure and planning. Lots of planning.
So, when one of you free-spirited folk come up with a really superb, unexpected idea like ‘Hey! Want to go to a roller disco in an abandoned warehouse full of cockroaches and questionable substances on the wall, like, RIGHT NOW!?’ then alarm bells ring in our heads.
However, fear not, we will write a list about how we intend to go about this impromptu activity to calm ourselves down. Once we’ve written a list about it, it’s suddenly not so spontaneous and we feel bit less panicked and sweaty.
4. Lists can give you an escape route
Need an excuse to leave somewhere you don’t want to be?
Just have a flick through your million and one things that you ‘urgently have to do’ and use one of those as an excuse to sneak away. It’s up to you whether you actually do that ‘urgent’ thing or not…
5. Lists show progress
There’s no feeling like looking at a completed ‘to do’ list. Lines neatly drawn through every item and no chores left in sight. It’s utter bliss.
Of course, most list writers will never actually experience this feeling as they will keep on obsessively adding more and more things…