List making – healthy habit or destructive?


I love making lists… and then ticking things off. I always have. I have early memories of making lists as a kid, and the first two things on my daily job list were:

  1. Wake up
  2. Get up

I must have felt super proud when just getting out of bed had me achieving two daily goals! Is that the secret of how I became a morning person?

These days, my lists are a little more focused. I don’t have daily lists anymore. I have a weekly list, which reminds me if it’s a cleaning weekend, or a sheet washing week. It lets me keep track of other things that need to be done – Skyping with a friend, for example, or a trip to the chemist for some medication. Generally I do pretty well at ticking everything off my weekly list – keeping this list realistic is important because there’s nothing more stress inducing for an obsessive-list-maker than not crossing things off. My packing lists are also extremely thorough, as I talked about in my Drama Packer blog. Admittedly, as well as my weekly list I also have a short term list, and a long term list. The short term includes things like ‘get rust spot fixed on car’ or ‘buy new trekking shoes’. The long term list it is more ominous – things like ‘fix my back’ and ‘publish novel’ and ‘I owe mum and dad $370 appear. Let’s be honest, some of these long term things may never happen.

I don’t know how healthy it is for me to have all these lists hanging over my head. On the one hand it keeps me focused and makes it less likely that I’ll forget those little things that pop into my head at odd times, destined to be forgotten again unless written down. But on the other hand, sometimes I feel a bit like a cog in a machine. I wake up and I tick things off and I go back to bed. I am the kind of person who likes to keep busy. I like having things to do. That doesn’t mean I’m not resentful washing towels or uploading images to my hard drive, but it does mean I feel a certain sense of satisfaction of having them to do in my obviously very important life. Which comes with a bigger problem – because what do you think happens when I tick the last thing off my weekly list and it’s not Sunday evening? I’m like a fish out of water. What do I do now?

That’s when the logical part of my brain chimes in and suggests ‘you could read a book’ or ‘you could do some writing’. ‘You could just, chill, for example, guilt free’. But in those moments, I don’t often feel like reading or writing or chilling, I feel like I should be doing something. My mind wanders while I’m folding washing, wishing I had more time to just read a book and when I do, I suddenly don’t feel like it!

With the extra time afforded by Covid, I tried to give myself a break. I forced myself to just ‘relax’ and I finished a number of books and did heaps of jigsaw puzzles, which is great for my mind. I tried to take better care of myself. My short term list keeps growing, and my long term list may never be achieved but I’ll let future Debbie worry about that.

So is my list habit healthy or not? I don’t know. I’ll continue with the ‘trying to relax’ and see how it goes, because in the end, you can’t completely change the kind of person you are, which means I’m probably destined to be writing lists until things like ‘pre-pay for funeral’ and ‘get false teeth’ are on it. And in a way, let’s hope so!


3 thoughts on “List making – healthy habit or destructive?

  1. Mum September 14, 2022 / 2:55 am

    Lists are great things, but it doesn’t hurt if every so often you lose one and have to start again. I find that happens more than it used to with my older brain more. Keep going the way you are, true to yourself and never forget to relax. It helps everything.

    • debbiekaye1980 September 16, 2022 / 3:27 pm

      You’re right. Sometimes it is good to lose a list, and also to relax about it!

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