As someone who might be classed as catastrophically disorganised, I have to make a conscious effort to put various systems in place to ensure, not only that I organise myself, but so that I actually do things.
One of these systems (which has recently become a regular feature of day-to-day living) is to write a list of things I need to do that day. This list is designed to motivate (and remind me) to actually do all of the shit I need to do in order to qualify in having some sort of productive and functional existence. Sometimes there’s quite a lot of shit to do. Sometimes shit has built up over time – shit is carried over from phases of depressive apathy where I do nothing but sit around eating cake and watching cop shows. Sometimes there’s so much shit to do, I don’t know what shitty job to start with first. When this amount of shit has mounted up, one of two things happens: 1) I feel overwhelmed by the amount of shit to do (and retreat into a depressive, apathetic state of lethargy and ‘meh’) or 2) I get all proactive on myself and write a list. As the former reaction merely adds more shitty jobs to the pile, I try to be more proactive in my approach to dealing with shit.
Please consult the following complex mathematical equation which will go some way to explaining this logic further:
So now I stick religiously to lists. I can’t live without a good list. I have lists for everything. I have lists for my shitty jobs, I have lists for my non-shitty jobs, I have lists for the supermarket shop, I have lists for things that in no way require a list. Despite the fact that there are a multitude of things which simply do not need to be put on a list, I will place them on one anyway – the more things I have on a list, the better. Because the truth is; without a list things tend to, sort of, not happen. At all. In fact, without a list, shitty jobs or supermarket items, or whatever will cease to exist. Due to relying on my impeccable list system for while now, my brain has become really quite dependant – to the point where it simply fails to acknowledge that something needs doing, or buying or fixing (and so on) if it hasn’t been written on a list.
This is a slightly worrying development.
I suppose that this whole obsessive list-making habit could, potentially, develop into serious case of OCD. But seeing as “consider therapy for developing case of OCD” isn’t featuring on a list anywhere, I’m not going to worry about it.
I love my list system. It works significantly better than simply relying on myself. When I have constructed a list, I congratulate myself for being organised. Having a list makes me feel like a good person because rather than merely ignoring the fact my brain retains very little information, I’m actually doing something about it – which is so unlike me. So, yay! Good for me! Everything will be fine as long as I have a list. I don’t need to remember things, because everything I need to know is on my list (this is starting to sound a bit like the plot from Memento – except no one murdered my wife. I don’t think…. *consults list*).
Thanks to my lists, I no longer need to worry about forgetting to do things, or picking something up from the supermarket (or whatever) and so I allow my brain to go to sleep while I work through the list.
Last week, I noticed a little problem with my list system, thanks to human conditioning which provides me with a glimmer of satisfaction any time I cross something off a list. While I realise it doesn’t sound like a big problem, it does mean that I now have a tendency to rush through the things on my list just so I can have that fleeting sense of satisfaction when I cross them off. This also means I’m putting simple things on my list which require absolutely no effort whatsoever, just so I can cross them off, whilst ignoring bigger, actual jobs which involve lots of effort, as these are too big for me to really do (and just end up on tomorrow’s list instead):
Worse still, lists do not allow for unexpected events. For example, this weekend my brother and sister-in-law came to visit, and for whatever reason the entire plumbing system went hay-wire causing the kitchen sink to fill with waste water anytime someone used the bathroom. As “clean up flooded kitchen” and “consider plumbing issue” weren’t on the list, I went into a blind panic – telling myself that I had failed because I wasn’t organised to think ahead about how I might deal with such a situation, thus taking the plumbing disaster extremely personally. When the sink started gurgling and filling with what can only really be described as hot liquid rust sick, I almost cried and actually asked the series of pipes beneath the sink why they were doing this to me.
Having spent the past four days being vigorously organised, and writing lists for Christmas presents, Christmas cards, Christmas shopping, cleaning, changing bed linin and a vast array of other Christmas/family visiting preparations, this whole plumbing thing felt like a whopping slap in the face – as though life was mocking me for thinking I could ever be organised.
After this minor household disaster, I’m wondering if I’m going to have to start writing absolutely everything on a list in order to actually make it through the day. I’ve also noticed that I frequently miss things off the list – my forgetfulness doesn’t stop even when I’m being organised and writing lists. So I just make a list of all the things I can remember and ignore all the things I can’t, and because I’ve told myself not rely on my brain (because I have a fail-safe list system) I simply refuse to do anything that didn’t make it onto the list – even when I remember it later.
I’m now at the point of having to write absolutely everything down – BECAUSE ANYTHING THAT DOESN’T FEATURE ON A LIST DOESN’T GET DONE.
The prospect of trying to construct a list covering absolutely everything I have to do, including the things I can’t remember, and the unexpected things (such as plumbing disasters), feels somewhat overwhelming and, well, nearly impossible.
And so phase #1 reoccurs and I retreat into a state of depressive apathy.
Thus, rendering the entire purpose of constructing a list a bit pointless.