The Power of Lists

I have a habit, and it’s been a habit of mine that has stood me in good stead: making lists. I’m an incorrigible list maker. If I have to pick up more than three things from the market or store, I make a list. (Oh, and I never go shopping hungry; otherwise you end up buying all sorts of stupid thinks, like pickled artichokes).

And it’s a habit that I’ve been extending. I now shop for clothes the way other people shop for groceries: I make a list. I made a list of all the clothes in my wardrobe a few months ago, and the clothing I need, here. Right now I don’t need t-shirts but I do need business shirts: I’ll be going shopping for some business shirts on Friday, and I will simply walk past the t-shirt section. It’s that simple.

There are other lists I have, with lists of things to buy for the bathroom, the kitchen; my weekly shopping lists for the markets and the supermarket; and my diary, which is really a collection of 365 to-do lists. I have two lists of projects that I’m working on (ones that require money, and ones that don’t). The 2007 movie The Bucket List starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman really put into people’s awareness the wonderful idea of making a list of the things you want to do before you die. A brilliant idea. Needless to say, I have a bucket list.

What I really need, perhaps, is then a list of lists. But here goes so far:

  • Clothing that I have
  • Clothing that I require
  • Colours that actually suit me (as opposed to the ones that make me look deathly ill; canary yellow and mustard, I’m looking straight at you!)
  • Things to get for the bathroom
  • Things to get for the kitchen
  • Vegetables I would like to grow
  • My to-do lists (daily, in the diary)
  • Essential things to pack when I travel (an upcoming post)
  • Things I would like to do in my career
  • Gemstones that I would like to cut and give to friends (it’s a long list and I’m very slow, so please don’t expect to see a sapphire coming from me any time soon!)
  • Things I want to achieve this year
  • Things that I would like to acquire in my life (bucket list part 1)
  • Things that I would like to do in my life (bucket list part 2)
  • Places that I would like to go to in my life (bucket list part 3, and by far the longest one. What can I say, I’m a born traveller!)

I did mention that I’m a list maker, right? Good.

So, how on earth does my almost obsessive list-making relate to minimalism? Simple. If it’s not on the list, I don’t need it.

For example, if I go shopping and I haven’t written “chocolate” on the shopping list, I don’t buy chocolate. Ever. (Needless to say, I am now very good at remembering to put chocolate on my shopping list — usually near the top! 🙂 ). But it also works for my other lists: I no longer get distracted by things that aren’t on my list. I had a friend once whose goal was to visit every single one of the 50 states of America. All 50 states are not on my list: if I don’t get to Wisconsin, I won’t be bitterly disappointed at the end of my days. But I really do want to cruise Alaska, go for a helicopter ride in the Grand Canyon, tour Hawaii, Seattle and New Orleans, and revisit San Francisco, Boston and New York.

The power of lists is the power of focus: you know exactly what you want, you only go after exactly what you want, and in all probably you get exactly what you want. And you don’t end up with stuff you don’t want. True, there can be some nice surprises: things and places you didn’t expect to enjoy but end up loving to bits (hello America!), but for the most part, you get what you want.

And I think lists are essential for minimalists.

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2 Responses to “The Power of Lists”

  1. Gayles Platypus Reynolds Says:

    mini ma lists .. for the woman in you 😉 lol

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