Lists: Why they save your creativity
I’ve noticed that “list-making” is developing a bad reputation. An article I read recently went so far as to call list-making an advanced form of procrastination. I can understand how this assumption could be made. When I write a list, I very rarely go back and check items off of it. I just finally got around to checking “Quiltcon” off my “BOLD” checklist. Some argue that lists just make us feel like we’re accomplishing something, when in fact the 20 minutes spent compiling the list would be better spent doing something on said list.
While I agree that time is precious and sometimes the easiest way to tackle a mountain is to Just Start it already, I’ve recently discovered a pleasant side effect of list making, something so worth while, it’s taking up an entire blog post.
Why we Make Lists
The intention behind a list is always practical. They’re created from fears that wake you up in the middle of the night, like a cranky child who doesn’t have milk for her cereal.
Don’t forget the milk or chaos ensues.
However, lists serve a more basic function. Writing it down means the item no longer uses bandwidth in our brains. It’s similar to saving documents on an external drive. The documents get saved and the main hard drive stays clean and empty for new material.
Why You Should Make Lists
What’s the point in all this? If you define yourself as an artist / creative / writer / human, you know that your energy is finite. By freeing up your brain from having to remember mundane things, you save more brain juice for the stuff you want to do.
No way, I thought. It can’t possibly be that simple.
I promise you, it is.
I spent one week making several lists for all aspects of my life. Work. Home. Blog.
The lists spanned from “Areas to Organize,” “Dinner for the week,” “Pet Chores,” to “Future Blog Posts” and “Goals for the next 3 months.”
Making the lists not only got more things done, but it gave me a plan. I would do X and then Y and then, magically, time for Z would just happen! More importantly however, I didn’t feel so drained at the end of the day. I felt more accomplished at my day job and felt more motivated to tackle the night job of love and life.
“Remembering” things is great, and I do have a pretty good memory, but I never realized how taxing it can be to use it. I’d much rather reserve that energy for evening reading, drawing, and other creative adventures. I’m happy to say that for this writer, lists work just fine and I don’t see myself phasing them out anytime soon.