Lists are Good

Lists are GoodI have a love/hate relationship with lists.

Lists keep track of what needs to be done.

Lists can feel overwhelming when there are so many things to be done.

A friend recently had a contractor over their house. The house needed numerous small repairs. As they prepared to walk from room to room and discuss the projects, my friend handed the contractor a list.

“I hope you don’t mind, but I made a list of all of the various projects.”

“Lists are good. I cannot tell you how many times I come to someone’s house and they rattle off all these things that were not part of our original discussion and expect me to remember them all.”

There was a sigh of relief from my friend. The last contractor didn’t have the same perspective on lists. There would be discussions, but not all projects were remembered or completed. There seemed to be agreement on what needed to be done, but various details would be missed that required projects to be either redone, or re-visited.

When it comes to lists, I think our egos can come into play.

“Don’t worry about it.” (As we tap our heads.) “I got it, I will remember, I don’t need to write it down.”

We don’t always have it.

We don’t always remember.

We do need to write it down.

Lists help in other ways. Lists provide accountability to ensure that we accomplish the task. Lists also provide the often needed sense of accomplishment. Each crossed-off item can bring pride for a job well done.

I will try to bring a little more love, and a little less hate to my lists.

I will also try to remember: Lists are Good.

5 thoughts on “Lists are Good

  1. Carl – If you want some additional encouragement about using lists, I recommend a look at “The Checklist Manifesto” by Atul Gawande. A NYT review of the book can be found here:

    The author is on Twitter @Atul_Gawande

    1. Bruce,

      That was a perfect article! I loved the last part especially, “something as primitive as writing down a to-do list to “get the stupid stuff right” can make a profound difference.” Thanks for sharing it. It is amazing how a simple checklist had such an impact on infection and related deaths in the medical field.


  2. Great post! I need to make use of lists more often. I do a rather decent job of keeping track of things in my head, but there is always something that is forgotten or missed somewhere along the way, usually depending on the level of activity I currently have in my daily life.. I do a good job of maintaining lists at work for the tasks and projects I am assigned, but somehow, I do not translate this to my personal life. Guess I need to add ‘Start making lists’ to a new list…

    1. Glad you liked it. Sounds like a good plan for your start making lists list. I have moved to having various lists on my phone, but for work still have a paper one.


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