Saturday, March 28, 2009

Listing to the left

Norm Geras reports on Linton Weeks’s list of ten reasons that we love lists. They are:

  1. Lists bring order to chaos
  2. Lists help us remember things
  3. Most lists are finite
  4. Lists can be meaningful
  5. Lists can be as long or as short as necessary
  6. Making lists can help make you famous
  7. The word "list" can be tracked back to William Shakespeare
  8. Lists relieve stress and focus the mind
  9. Lists can force people to say revealing things
  10. Lists can keep us from procrastinating.

I think 1, 2, 8 and maybe 9 are fair enough; the rest are a bit tenuous and 10 is surely the exact opposite of the truth.

Norm adds:

I can't believe he left out one of the most satisfying and important reasons for a making a very common kind of list, a to-do list - namely, that crossing off tasks as you do them gives you a sense of achievement, which you might get from nothing else that day.

Exactly right. But there’s more!

The list above is numbered, although there’s no reason it need be; a lot of lists don’t need to be itemised in any particular order. And these lists are deeply egalitarian, which should appeal to those of us on the left. For instance, my current to-do list, free from any hierachies of so-called ‘importance’, includes:

  • Drink tea
  • Get haircut
  • Pop to supermarket
  • Buy a flat
  • Watch another couple of episodes of Battlestar Galactica
  • Read that piece in the LRB by Ross Whatshisname
  • Clean kitchen
  • Figure out what the hell I’m doing with my life
  • Go running

And when it comes to crossing them off, each is equally satisfying.

1 comment:

Matt M said...

Always start off with: Make list.

That way you have something to cross off straight away -- getting you off to a satisfying, flying start.