At The Top of My List? Make A To-Do List, Of Course


katBy Kat Kiefer-Newman

Do you make lists?

I had a boyfriend long ago who accused me (with dripping superiority) of being a compulsive list-maker. The fact is, though, that while my life would definitely be greatly enhanced through the employment and application of lists, well, I just can’t get into writing them. Worse, I can’t stick to a list once I do write it.

The former boyfriend, you see, superior tone notwithstanding, had it wrong about me.

Mostly, I’m just not organized enough. Even sexy list-making doesn’t appeal to me. (What is sexy list-making? Check out The Steff Metal Guide to Writing To-Do Lists).

I’m also not dedicated to the follow-through process. List-makers impress me with their follow-through. People like Paula Rizzo, at her website The List Producer is one of those. Just the other day she wrote a post called “5 Reasons to be a Compulsive List Maker.” Sheyeah, like we needed five reasons. I like number five: because famous people make lists. Hey, that’s endorsement enough for me.

Here’s the thing, if I take time to make the list, I usually forget to look at it later.

Worse, I tend to lose them.

Yeah, that’s how disorganized I am.

I’m not the only person who loses lists. Bill Kaeggy has made an entire writing career on lists that he’s found and put into his books, blogs, and website. You may have heard of his book Milk, Eggs, Vodka.

In an effort to “juggle” my crazy schedule I’ve been considering a return to list-making. Maybe I won’t start big, on this list thing. Maybe I’ll just make a list of things to do this afternoon.

  1. Gym
  2. Shower
  3. Lunch
  4. Bills
  5. Grade
  6. Dinner for Dad

OK, it’s a yawner, I know. And it’s likely if Keaggy had found my list he’d never have had the career he’s made for himself.

My daughter tells me there are all sorts of memes about lists. Maybe I should try out one of the lists on Urban75’s webzine. They say you can amuse yourself by 1) using your secret mind power, 2) scratching yourself, or 3) trying not to think of penguins. (Now I can’t stop thinking about penguins. D’oh)

Less strange, but equally entertaining is ProfGrrrrl’s list, which includes books she “wants to read this summer,” annoying tasks she “needs to take care of,” and people she is “somehow coordinating this summer.”

Summer lists seem all the rage. Blogger JaneB and blogger Chris Summer List are on-board with this meme.

This got me to thinking about my own summer plans. I’m hoping they’ll include reading some fiction. Those of you who’ve been following me for a bit know I am desperately finishing my PhD Dissertation. I ran into some snags with a couple of my committee members, and now it isn’t done in time for graduation. This means that my Summer List must start:

1. Finish Dissertation Edits

Being an optimist, I think I should follow that with

2. Breathe

3. Sleep

And then maybe

4. Read some fiction

I miss reading for fun. I have a nasty sweet-tooth for really silly novels, and have been known to polish off an entire series in a weekend. (Charlaine Harris has my, pardon the pun, undying love with her Southern Vampire series with Kim Harrison a close second with her Hollows series).

Don’t judge me. I know you have some embarrassing “junk food” books tucked away under your mattress.

I also read important and meaningful books. Recent books that I’ve managed to squeeze in are The Great Mortality, about the Black Plague; Water Wars: Privatization, Pollution, and Profit a terrific economical/environmental/political examination; Daniel Gilbert’s Stumbling on Happiness; and Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Factors that Shape Our Decisions.

Because I’m hoping to be back among the reading soon, I recently joined the social cataloging site called GoodReads. (Social Cataloging is like Social Networking except it’s main focus is, well, lists…in the case of GoodReads, it’s lists of books, right.) Maybe next blog-post I’ll look at Summer Reading Lists for Students, since I keep getting asked (both by students and by fellow faculty) what I recommend. Until then, I have some lists to lose, ahem, I mean follow.

Are you a compulsive list-maker? If so, what would your Summer List look like? Care to share?

About the Juggler: Kat Kiefer-Newman currently teaches as an adjunct instructor at two colleges in two different departments. In addition to her busy working (and driving) schedule she attends conferences presenting her research, is in the last stages of finishing her Ph.D., takes care of her elderly father, has recently packed up and sent off to college her second daughter, chats in status updates with her students on Facebook, does not hand out her cell phone number to said students despite their pleadings, and in her spare time she plays in her organic veggie garden. (And though she will never admit it, she also enjoys reading trashy vampire novels.)

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