Santa and I have at least two things in common. Love of cookies and of lists. Most of my days start with making a list. I could save the trouble of making a daily list by having carved in stone, “Work on house.” Facing that each day would have me crawling back into bed and pulling the covers over my head. I use lists as a tool. A tool to clarify my thoughts and create a plan for the day. The more specific the better. Rather than the “Work on house” tombstone, my list will break the day into maneagable tasks. Crossing completed tasks off feeds satisfaction and helps maintain motivation and momentum. I do better with evidence of forward progress. Any task, be it building a house or a set of bookshelves, can be daunting when viewed as a whole. Days when I’m cruising, a list becomes a celebration of satisfaction. Days when I’m struggling, it’s a map to keep me moving in a productive direction.

I also utilize monthly and yearly lists. Each month I set work goals. Each year I do the same. The yearly list sets out big goals. It creates the vision. Monthly lists create the direction of focus. The daily list spells out how to get it done.

My use of lists makes it sound like I’m super organized, with laser vision focused on an end product. It’s true that I’m goal oriented, but organization is a struggle. Lists help me manage that.

Plans change during the course of the day. If the pope, Jennifer Garner, and Elton John show up looking for a fourth for horseshoes, you don’t say no because it’s not on your list. You can always add it later.