Lists – are they letting me down?

An array of notebooks: 5 spiral bound, one each felt covered, Webstock and William Morris print, and one listIt’d be fair to say I like lists. Not necessarily other people’s, such as the 1001 movies to watch before you die prematurely, or all time top 10 songs of 1974.

The lists are my ones. I got to thinking about lists to see if it might help explain why I’m failing to blog as often as I’d like.

My lists come in all shapes, sizes and forms. And I keep trying new ways of keeping lists.

The latest is simple: take a blank piece of paper, rule lines to create 6-8 segments, add reminders of what to do. Normally I have about three projects I’m being paid for in varying stages of completion, then there are proposals, get rich slow schemes my own business ideas to investigate, and then my volunteer webmaster duties. Add stuff, tick it off, repeat daily.

Also on paper, I’ve many lists in the spiral-bound, A-5 notebooks you’ll see me clutching as I go from meeting to meeting. I’m vacillating between marbig’s version with a plastic cover (bad from a greenie point of view) and Esselte’s version, with cardboard cover, which doesn’t last as long. Inside are notes from meetings, interview accounts, lists of links, and of course lists for specific projects.

In yet another book I keep business ideas. Currently I’m using a very chunky spiral bound notebook from Webstock 2009, plus have some spares ready to go (including a gorgeous felt covered Clairefontaine notebook made by VIA Werkstatten gGmbH, a gift from Roz). In my Kiwi diary I keep lists of when bills and invoices are due and other (exciting) financial info.

Hmmm, I’m at about four ways of keeping lists already.

Online I’ve been fairly profligate, trying a few pieces of software or online services before settling on Evernote.

I liked Google Notebook, now discontinued, as it slotted into my iGoogle page. Before that was xPad with it’s neat colour coding of entries. I must have deleted the software at some point, for a very well thought out reason I’m sure. Exactly why alludes me right now.

And of course, I’ve got at my fingertips the beautifully simple Stickies software built into Mac OS, plus a private notes widget installed in the dashboard where I store passwords. 

Evernote is becoming very ingrained in my work habits. Not only for the neat “to-do” checkbox I can add to lists, but also because the desktop software syncs with a web-based tool so I can access my notes, and make them, anywhere. The snippet tool in my browser toolbar means I can store selected text or a whole page from within Firefox. With it’s ease of use, non-demanding feel and bright green branding mean this one is still near and dear after 12 months use.   

Until I started writing this, I wasn’t aware of just quite how dissipated my listmaking mania is. Perhaps this is clue to why blog posts do not runneth over. Perhaps some ideas are lost, or a sign of too much to do?

Amidst all the means and ways of writing lists are about three attempts at keeping track of blog post ideas, plus there are the half constructed fragments. My most active list is stored on Evernote is woebegone. Forlornly, last updated on 18 July, spliced by a mighty interregnum of silence. A list of failed deadlines, and acknowledgments of weeks gone by without a word written.   

This confessional tone is in part about putting the past behind me, and part a public commitment to trying to stick to my goal of blogging weekly. Perhaps the beginning of a new list focusing on learning and inspiring myself to be a more active blogger. Or maybe no list at all – decide on the spot. Set a time and blog, come what may.

I am, of course in good company, as Gregory McNamme writes “On lists and listmaking” for the Britannica blog: “I have yet to master the cardinal rule of effective listmaking—which is to say, keep just one of the things.”