I do love a list… Or five!

So what better way to start my blog of lists then a list of reasons why I have an obsession with list writing. There’s the obvious reasons: baby brain means I forget  literally EVERYTHING unless it’s written down, the satisfaction of ticking things off a to do list even if I do only write them on there once done purely for the pleasure of putting a big fat line through it, and what about a shopping list so you can decide what size bags you need to take depending on the length of your list??

But I actually think my need to write lists goes beyond this. I have been known on more than one occasion, back in the days before maternity leave, to take a picture of my 30+ item to do list. Then as things are ticked off throughout the day, send a smug text to the hubster showing how productive I’ve been (I work from home so no colleagues to share my overly smug satisfied grin with). But surely there must be something deeper than gloat factor as to why I feel the need to list my entire life on scraps of paper??

To help support my blog of lists I thought I better do a bit of research into the psychology of list writing (research nerd that I am… more of that later..!).  Having read various articles, some I agree with others I don’t, here is, in my opinion the top three reasons why we (I) write lists:

  1. In the book, Lists of Note, the author Shaun Usher states “Human beings love lists because they create a sense of order in a chaotic world”.  Show me any mummy who doesn’t live in a whirlwind of at least part chaos.  My little lists are the one slither of hope I cling on to to try and take back just a tiny bit of control.  Generally, all control is lost by approximately 7.30am every morning, when I turn into a screaming lunatic making sure the children, husband included, leave the house at least half dressed and with something resembling lunch (usually a packet of custard creams for the husband, thank god for his sweet tooth..).  However, there in the notes column of our family organiser is my list for the day ahead, a quick skim through and I’m back in control.  I may look like an extra from Walking Dead with yesterdays mascara still smeared across my face, lumps of Millie’s porridge hanging from my hair and pre-baby pyjamas bursting at the seems but at least I have my list to guide me through the day.
  2. Lists help to break down information into smaller more manageable chunks making it easier for our brains to digest. They keep us focussed on what actually needs to be done and prevents distraction from everything else going on around us.  So basically if I didnt write a to do list I would probably spend my day watching Judge Rinder and Loose Women…. oh wait….!
  3. Apparently our short term memory can only hold around seven items at one time. Seriously, seven items? Add baby brain into the mix and I’m probably having a good day if I remember four! So finally, here lies one of the most important reasons why I write lists.  I can’t remember a damn thing without them!!

So Mummy’s everywhere, go and embrace your lists, take pride in your colour coded tasks and make sure you start it with “write a to do list” so you can always, at least, cross off one item every day.

Writing this post reminded me for some reason of a picture I saw a while ago which I can resonate 100% with…