I have a love/hate relationship with lists.
More hate than love.
I suspect it’s tied to my love/hate relationship with organization.
I stand before you (ok, I’m sitting at a desk, but you get the idea) and proudly proclaim “I am unorganized.”
I’ve read helpful hint columns in newspapers and magazines. I’ve read blog posts about ten things to get you better organized. Once, I even read a book about becoming organized. I don’t recall if I finished the book, or if it just vanished into some stack of something that got shoved into a drawer somewhere. I suspect if I did finish it, it wasn’t helpful.
All I can say is that I’ve tried.
For more than one day.
I once spent a weekend getting a filing cabinet, and labeling folders. I put things in the folders.
I was, for that weekend, organized!
No one said that once you get organized, you have to keep up with things. I think most of the things in the folders are things I no longer need, like the owner’s manual for the cassette recorder that I no longer own.
What’s the point of getting organized if one is going to have to keep doing it? I mean, I have enough repetitive tasks in my life: I have to keep eating, I have to keep shopping for food, I have to keep sleeping, I have to keep showering, I have to keep washing clothes. I can just about keep up with the absolute necessities of life, without having to add something else to keep up with, like organization. If it piles up long enough, and I haven’t had to use it, I can just throw it away. If it’s something that I need, it’s usually something that is needed reasonably soon after entering the house (receipts, etc.), that I just rummage around through piles until I find it. This system works for me. It makes me happy, as it takes up little of my precious time.
Also, it makes me feel superior, as it means that my brain is occupied with deeper ideas than just filing a receipt away. Having to figure out what to do with a warranty card for a $30 appliance that will be cheaper to replace than pack up and schlep somewhere to fix is just too taxing, it interrupts the deeper, more meaningful thoughts in my brain.
I tell myself this, because it makes me feel as if I have deeper, meaningful thoughts. Mostly, I just have thoughts about is there coffee ice cream in the freezer, or wondering if there are still peanut M&Ms in the container in the kitchen or some such thing that seems more relevant to me than some piece of paper.
One time, I tried the boxes and binders thing, creating labelled boxes and binders, to stack on your desk, so you can file things away quickly. All that happened during this experiment was that the boxes and binders remainded empty and collected much dust. I finally threw them away, because I needed more room to stack stuff.
Then, horror of horrors, is the idea of lists. Lists are supposed to help you get organized, though, I can’t see how writing “File papers away” is going to be any more helpful than the thought of “File away papers” has been. I think the thought of filing, and don’t do it. Seeing the words on a list isn’t going to make the action happen either. Actually, what typically happens to the list is that it vanishes into some stack or other, only to be found months later, as the stack is making its way to the trash. The list, because it’s paper, does, at least, make it to the recycle bin. It may not have been helpful to me, but, I can at least be environmentally responsible in disposing of the list.
I got an app for my phone, it’s supposed to be The App for organizing. It’s called Clear. It’s list making and organizing bought to the tech age, brought to a whole new level: easy and intuitive to use, and will change your life. The fucking thing had a little instruction menu when you first installed it, and, once you move past it, there’s no way to pull the instructions back up. I don’t know who it’s intuitive to, but, it’s not intuitive to me. It’s a fucking annoyance. It’s bright colors are supposed to each mean something, but, to me, they just mock me, saying “Bright color that you’re too fucking stupid to understand.” I hate this app with a passion I cannot begin to convey.
Not all lists are bad. There are good lists. Like the lists that tell you the top 5 places to eat Mexican food in whatever city you happen to be in. Or, those lists with titles like “10 Ways To Annoy Your Coworkers” or “8 Ways To Lie Your Way Out Of A Traffic Ticket.” Those lists have practical, relevant use to me: the inspire laughter, so they’re good.
I also like lists when I’m writing. It’s a good way to convey information without spending lots of time writing lots of fancy words that bore the hell out of people. Like my recent post about my desk. The list let me tell you lots of things about me, without going on and on for pages and pages. Sometimes, I wish that novels had lists, because some of them just go on and on about something, and nice little list of pertinent facts could eliminate pages of rambling writing. (As someone who is currently writing a rambling post, I am well aware that I should take my own advice, and just make a list, and this post would be so much shorter. But what fun would that be, if this were shorter? You’d not get as much exposure to my delightful self in a list). ”Clan Of The Cave Bear” would be a good novel to have a few lists in, as one can only read so many pages describing a tree without becoming suicidal. (On a bright note, of actual organizational triumph for me, I can tell you exactly where my copy of “Clan” is… the city dump. I filed it, after about 250 pages, in File 13).
Someday, maybe, I’ll learn to appreciate the list as something that’s helpful for more than just remembering what to buy at the grocery store.
Someday, maybe, I’ll learn to be organized.
I had thought to make up a little graphic of my own, maybe with my new crayons, to illustrate this post, but, that would involve trying to find paper (yes, I just did buy some new colored paper too), and would involve taking a snapshot with my small camera, which would mean having to find it, and all of that sounds like too much work right now. So, instead, I’ll recycle an image I created for a previous post. (Don’t complain… at least I knew where the image was!)