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The joys of crossing off your to-do list (or not)

* Get up

* Eat yogurt

* Go to work

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* Start a column about the happiness of making lists.

* Quote Jennifer Ford Berry. She's a New-York-based organizational expert whose latest book is Organize Now: A Week-by-Week Guide to Simplifying Your Space and Your Life. Remember, it's all about purging. You don't want clutter in your closet, your drawers, your house , or your mind. "When you have all these to-do's in your mind, it's disorganized. You have to clean it out, and the best way is to put them down on paper."

* Try not to mention that this seems obvious.

* Add that Ms. Ford believes people are so busy these days that they can't remember things. Hence, the need for lists.

* Suggest that list-makers seem, well, like they're the kind of people who need to make lists. Slightly controlling maybe? A little too organized? Overambitious? They remind you of people who iron their underwear. Ms. Ford has many, many lists: a bucket list, a daily to-do list, a list for both of her businesses (both organizational), a list for her next book, a list for her domestic responsibilities. She keeps her lists in a three-ring binder, divided into colour-coded categories.

* Call Mom

* Organize tax information

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* Eat lunch

* Pay Visa

* Check out favourite websites

* Write a sentence about people you know (don't mention names) who add innocuous items to their list, like "brush teeth," just so they can cross it off said list. They say list-making is addictive. One person with serious listitis said (jokingly?) that he would even make a note of "move pillow five inches to the left" just so he could then move the pillow and feel good about crossing the task off the list.

* Mention that lists are sublimely reductive, a bulwark against all that overwhelming and amorphous uncertainty of life. A day is merely a list of things to do. The mystery of the universe is cut down to manageable size.

* Try not to be too philosophical.

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* Channel what a new age guru would say: that by writing something you want down on a list, you are making that intention known to the universe.

* Pretend you are open to goofy new-age thinking.

* Remember that the joy of making lists is really simple. "You feel on top of things," one obsessive list-maker told me. "It's a sense of accomplishment."

* Put in observation that the happiness you get from crossing items off your list is lovely, but fleeting. Why? Because lists are never-ending. There's always more things you have to do or that didn't get done today.

* Don't feel bad about having things left on your list. Some things remain there to remind us that we're not dead yet; there's still stuff to do.

* Try not to be too clever when writing columns.

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