4 Reasons Why I Dislike and Like Lists

checklist

I am a list maker. In fact, I make way too many lists. I have multiple TO DO lists of things that I need to do around the house, out in the garden, things I want to blog about, even lists of movies and TV shows that I want to watch.

Though I still make lists on paper, I keep lots of lists on my phone these days: things to buy at the store, restaurants to try in various cities, donations for taxes, sights to see and more. I even have a list of lines or ideas for poems that (embarrassingly) has 300+ items.

Obviously, I like lists. But I also dislike them. For example, that Things To Do Around the House list is a constant reminder of things I have NOT done. There are items on that list that have been there for several years (paint the garage door, caulk and paint the foundation, replace the bathroom window trim, and clean out the basement and garage. (Luckily, I don’t have an attic.) Even the lists of unread books, unwatched movies and places to visit – which are things I enjoy doing – are a reminder of things NOT done.

I also dislike lists that are opinions. The end of the year and January are full of “Best of” lists. They rarely agree with each other. Every critic and person with a blog has the best: films, books, TV shows, foods, websites, beaches, vacation spots, cities…  Pick a category and there is a list for it. I was told that blog posts and articles that start with a number get more views. (Hence this post’s title – let’s see if it works.)

There are some very official lists that are attached to awards. In aggregate, the Golden Globes, Oscars, SAG and New York and Los Angeles Film Critics lists should give you a pretty good sampling of movies to watch. The same goes for some book awards – although the list of best-selling books or biggest moneymaking films generally tells me things to avoid.

So why do I like lists?  Those annoying “best” lists can guide you to some things you might have missed. If five critics all put a book on their best list and it wins the Pulitzer, Booker or some other big award, it’s probably worth checking out.

My personal lists are actually useful because I do forget things more these days. Those shopping lists (food store, Home Depot, clothing) are necessary reminders fo those rare times when I venture into a store or more likely are searching online.  The garden things I never did last spring or summer are still there for this spring and summer. I have started putting some lists on my phone/computer calendar so that they repeat at intervals and send me notifications and emails.

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Ken Ronkowitz

A lifelong educator on and off the Internet. Random by design and predictably irrational. It's turtles all the way down. Dolce far niente.

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