If you want to get ahead, get a list

Aasma Day, Lancashire Evening Post Health Correspondent
Aasma Day, Lancashire Evening Post Health Correspondent
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Christmas is coming and the lists are being written...

Anyone who has little people in their lives will soon no doubt find conversation turning to the task of making lists.

I’m talking, of course, of the fun-filled project relished by children everywhere of penning a missive to Santa of all the presents they would love to receive on Christmas Day – many of which will never materialise unless there’s a lottery win on the cards.

When it comes to making lists, I am filled with just as much glee as any energetic child high on Haribos.

But for me, making lists is not just a pleasure restricted to Christmas, but a year-round source of bliss.

I am self admittedly a creature who gets easily bored and as a result, I like to cram my work and home life with as many activities as possible until I reach a point where everything I have to do and remember is whizzing around inside my head like a cheetah on speed.

Anyone who knows me and has seen my chaotically messy desk will know that keeping things tidy and organised is not my forte.

The only reason I live in a neat and orderly house is because I have a husband who is almost OCD in his desire for everything to be in its place.

Only this week, I received an urgent message from the LEP’s Mr Health and Safety that my desk had been condemned as a hazard and I needed to tidy it pronto.

He looked completely unamused when I imparted my theory that an untidy desk is the sign of an industrious worker.

Despite being surrounded by chaos and madness, I am actually surprisingly usually fully in control of the mountain of tasks facing me on a daily basis.

While things may seem a shambles in my vicinity, my mind is organised and I am pretty nifty at working my way through my workload and challenges.

My secret to achieving this? Making lists of course!

Nothing beats that delicious feeling of getting a fresh new slice of paper and scrawling a huge and intimidating list of things to do.

The thought of completing them all before the day’s end seems hopeless… until you are instilled with that feeling of calm as you methodically cross them off one by one until there’s nothing left.

I operate with both mental lists in my head and physical ones written on bits of paper or at the back on my notebook at work.

Written lists are far more satisfying than the mental ones and I have my own well practiced procedure I follow whenever my mind gets too crowded.

I start by taking a sheet of paper and writing a heading along the lines of: ‘Things To Do’ or ‘Shopping List’ or ‘Stories To Write’.

I then underline it twice. Don’t ask me why – that extra underscore just makes it feel more official.

I then begin my numbered list of tasks to do and give myself a little treat by starting with something like: “1. Make list” which I can satisfyingly cross off straight away with a flourish.

I have been known to write extra somewhat pointless and obvious items on my lists just so I can have the thrill of crossing them off.

I live my life by lists and apart from excessive alcohol consumption, it is the best temporary form of anxiety relief I have come across – with the plus point of being cheaper and not leaving you with a hangover in the morning.

I make lists varying from lists of ideas, lists of people to call, lists of what I need to buy, lists of household chores that need doing (which never get done) and more fanciful lists such as exotic places I would like to go on holiday.

Speaking of holidays, many people are daunted at the thought of packing for a fortnight away.

But the secret is not about the packing, it is about making the list of what to pack.

Then all you have to do is throw everything into the case and tick it all off your list as you do so.

Mind you, lists can get you in a spot of bother if you accidentally lose them. Not only are you suddenly left floundering as you can’t remember what you have left to do, it can also lead to embarrassing situations.

When Hubby and I were still at the dating stage, I remember making a list of things I needed to buy from town just before one particular Valentine’s Day.

I was working in a call centre to earn a bit of extra cash in the university holidays at the time and can still remember my blushes as one of my co-workers hooted with laughter as he found a post it note on the floor which had fallen out of “someone’s” pocket headed “Things To Buy” and spotted a saucy item on the list.

Thankfully, he never twigged it belonged to me.

Some weeks – like this last one – are so incredibly busy, I feel like I need to make a list of all the lists I need to make.

The good news is I have one more thing I can cross off my list.

‘Write this week’s column.’