I am, in troth, and I am not ashamed to say it out loud and clear, perhaps the most disorganised person on this planet. Perhaps, there might be a couple who could put up a tough fight, but I would be a worthy competitor and put up a tough fight. As a result, my natural inclination most days is to let things roll, and occasionally let them rock as well. My schedule, thanks to the sheer fact of being a parent is thankfully regimented around the child’s schedule else I would have been pattering around barefooted and unbathed till the evening, and perhaps then put a comb to the hair, and often times, not even that. The desk is a morass of thick undergrowth I need to fling to the floor when I want to clear it, and my ground rule for most paper work I haven’t filed is that if I haven’t needed it for more than a week, I won’t need it ever again for the rest of my life. Ergo it goes into the land where the sun never shines, ergo the cabinets at the back where only the brave dare venture into during the Diwali ki safaai and battle the alien life forms growing there before coming up with the silverfish and termite shredded remnants of what was once documents.
In such a situation, it is a miracle that I ever get any work done. And it is even more of a miracle that I manage to stick to deadlines, given I have a mind like a sieve, with extra wide holes to let most things through, except perhaps the most urgent—buy new make up now. Therefore, when some wise soul, I forget who now (remember, the sieve mind) suggested that I take up list making to get myself organised and be less of a public menace to the world, I took it up avidly.
I soon realised this was something I should have done earlier. I should have emerged from the womb waving a list aloft in my clenched fingers. I was born to make lists.
Today, there is nothing I cannot do, if I have a list in hand, except perhaps cook a complicated meal, drive a car or write computer code. Am sure, with the right lists, I could tackle those as well. I sit down most evenings, after the last meal of the day has been burped, the kitchen cleared and the still of the night begin to get to us, I sit down with my diary and my pen and make out my list for the next day. I put down everything. Word related deadlines. Groceries to be bought. The child’s tuition and classes schedule. The calls to be made. The emails to be sent. The follow ups to be done. Occasionally, I factor in sometime for the books to be read. Despite my best efforts, the books to be read grow beyond themselves and cannibalise substantial bits of the day, but I’m not complaining yet.
Lists soothe me. They calm me down from the inevitable panic of thinking that the day ahead has too much for me to deal with. It divides everything into bullet points which can be ticked off. There is a certain sense of achievement as I tick off each task done that makes me feel I have done something productive with my day and not frittered it all on the bait click links that do the apsara before meditating sage act on my timeline. I’ve realised that the best thing that these lists do, is that they give me back a sense of control over a life and a schedule that has completely morphed into something that I seem to have no modicum of control over. And seeing tasks listed out in order of importance makes it easier for me to prioritise as well, no longer do I begin my day with the least important task and end up at the end of the work day realising that the elephant in the to do list is still trumpeting away in the corner, all too merrily.
And then there are the specific lists. The lists of things to be shopped for, on grocery shopping days, the lists of things to be packed for a trip, the lists of places I want to visit before I day and things I want to do, the lists of people I mean to reach out to, but keep holding myself back from. Am slowly ticking through that last one, ever so slowly. Life is too short to hold grudges and resentments too long.
Right now though, my lists are about the promotions I have coming up for my next book, All Aboard, the cities I will visit, the people I need to ask help from, the things I need to complete. As with every round of book promotions, I go into my headless chicken act before every book release, but the lists reassure me. I will get by with a little help from my lists, and my friends.
Do you make lists too? Tell me more about your lists.