Waxing Intellectual about Checklists

Lately, a lot of people have been asking me about this blog and where I even came up with the idea. I hate to go into a long schpeel about my knee surgery (blah blah blah) and really, the heart of the matter is that I make lists constantly. Even if I hadn’t blown out my knee, I would still have a big list (at least for summer) of stuff I wanted to get done but I doubt I would have invited the world to see it.

In case you can’t tell, I like lists; making my own lists, looking at other peoples’ lists, making lists for my students. It’s like, when you take out the trash and check it off the list it feels better than just taking out the trash. If I want to get things done in a day (whether work or home), I just have to write it down or I’ll end up watching an entire season of Jersey Shore instead.


I also like calendars. I have many. One on my phone (which syncs to iCloud so I can access it anywhere), one on my desk at work, one I show the students, and one in my kitchen. If you’re going to make a list, you must have a deadline for your listed items. Is it a list for the day? the week? a year? Image

At this point, you’re probably thinking I’m the most anal person in the world. BUT I SWEAR I’M NOT! I just like to accomplish things and being a visual person, I’ve got to SEE my accomplishments – and thus begins why I have a stupid blog to check off that I joined a bowling team or played bingo.

Not that long ago I read The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande to see if I could perfect my own personal checklists. It was a good read, and it deepened my understanding of why lists are important: people forget stuff. Doctors, teachers, grocery clerks, airplane pilots – they all forget basic things so we need lists.I also like to get lists online for specific things. Martha Stewart has great lists for cleaning, cooking, and shopping. I also like Checklists.com because even though the lists aren’t necessarily all that helpful, THERE IS A LIST FOR EVERYTHING. It’s pretty hilarious.

My lists are also constantly evolving. There are a few items that I wanted to accomplish this year that just don’t seem all that exciting anymore (knife skills in the kitchen, I’m talking to you) but because they are on the list I’m committed!

So if you’re not a list person, I recommend trying it out. There is a lot of research behind the power of checklists and calendars – and then maybe one day, you too can have your own extremely trivial blog on which you can share your lists.



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