Thursday, April 9, 2009


I was reading The Bourne Supremacy yesterday and poor Jason's wife has been taken and he is freaking out so what does he do? He makes a huge, long list. "Lists calmed him; they were preliminaries to necessary activity and forced him to concentrate on specific items rather than on the reasons for selecting them."

I don't have the CIA manipulating me into taking on an assassin who has co-opted my alter ego which I'd rather forget, but I totally get Jason in this instance. Saturday night, when it was way too late (okay it was 11:15, not way too late normally, but way too late after three nights of post-midnight bedtimes), I found myself puttering and not getting done what I was staying up to do and so I made a list. This list in fact:
The blue pen made me happy. (It always makes me happy much like Diet Coke and convertibles.) And I was able to go to sleep with my normal brain-turn-offer, Pottercast. I've been relying heavily on lists recently. Lists in notebooks, lists on pads, lists in cute little booklets. Sometimes they help me decide what's next. Sometimes they just provide a place to dump my worry.

But here's the thing. Despite my compulsive list making, I have yet to set up a Getting Things Done system. For those who don't know, Getting Things Done (or GTD for the cool kids) is the ultimate in list making. You put everything in an inbox and then daily-ish you process it. Get the 2 minute tasks done and put everything else on lists--lists for phonecalls, lists for work, lists for home, lists for errands, etc. etc. And then you just go down the list checking things off depending on where you're at (by a phone, in a car). It sounds really cool. I mean to. I want to. It just feels so massive that I don't know how to start. Maybe I need to make a list to help me. ;-)

Okay so part of me wants to end on that quippy note, the other part of me feels the need to be honest. I'm not sure my collection methods would work well for GTD. There are ways to use your palmpilot/scraps of paper/voice recorder to record things and then put that into your inbox and process it with all the other notes you have, but I never just write down reminders I put reminders in lists. And then I very rarely look at lists to remember what to do next. AND all this would probably be solved if I used my desk as a desk instead of as a handy dandy shelf and the couch as a couch instead of as my laptop stand. I don't really want to set up a processing station at the couch because that would be weird, but I'm also just not much of a desk person. Anyway, I totally veered off course from Jason Bourne because I'm pretty sure HE doesn't do GTD either, but I have a lot of thoughts about lists.


Alli said...

I live off of lists. I need them to survive. Without my daily planner, I feel completely lost. It's odd though, since I don't really use the lists to remind me of what I need to do - I can usually remember. For some reason, I feel that they anchor me and make me concentrate on the day.

brnh said...

I like that anchoring idea a lot. Leo from uses lists to do that too. He identifies the 3 most important things he needs to get done and makes sure those are the things he focuses on and fits the other things in around it.