Listmakers Anonymous

I think I have a serious problem. I make lists for everything. I make Christmas lists (both what I want and what I plan to buy other people), grocery lists, lists of household and clothing items I need to purchase, lists of things I would name my kids, lists of future ideas for blog posts, to-do lists, lists of books to read, movies to see, albums to listen to… hell, I’ve even made a list of all my lists. I am a compulsive list maker. I don’t know that there is anyone else in the world who does this, but I’m sure there must be.

After thinking long and hard about why I do this, this is what I’ve come up with: A) My short-term memory is appallingly, well… short. I think of something that I need to do, or an I have an idea about something, and if I don’t write it down, I forget about it within 5 minutes. I’m pretty sure I have ADD or some kind of early-onset Alzheimer’s. B) I think that by nature I am a rather flighty individual. I tend to daydream a lot, and I often forget what should be very obvious (today I drove all the way to the post office to mail my husband a package and then realized I didn’t have his address with me). In order to compensate for this natural flightiness, I try to micromanage, thoroughly plan, and over-organize everything. I’m pretty sure this annoys the crap out of my poor husband who is a “fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants” kind of guy, but I think we balance each other out. C) Making lists helps me accomplish more.. or at least I FEEL like I’ve accomplished more when I can cross off things on my lists. I always feel so guilty when I have a day off and I don’t get anything done. It doesn’t have to be anything major; if I just get my dishes washed and put away, I can at least say I did SOMETHING other than sleep until noon and then play on the internet all day. I know John Lennon said “Time that you enjoyed wasting was not wasted,” but sometimes I don’t even ENJOY my slacking – I don’t HATE it, but I know there are other more productive things I could be doing that are equally relaxing (scrapbooking, stringing beads, reading a book, etc), and then the guilt sets in and I don’t enjoy it.

My chronic list-making compulsion helps me deal with my strange little psychological quirks, despite the fact that it is a strange little psychological quirk in and of itself. It helps me manage and keep track of all everything I need to do, buy, experience, see, write, or remember. If it takes a weird compulsion to keep me anchored to Planet Earth instead of floating off into Sheepland, then I suppose I can live with that. Think of it as a preventative defense mechanism.

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