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lulah ellender

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do you make lists? if you do, what purpose do they serve in your life? what story do they tell?

I'm researching material for a book about lists (why we write them, what they can tell us about our lives) and am looking for more contributions. I am especially interested in lists that have helped people deal with difficult life events / death/ memory/ controlling the chaos of life, but would love to hear from anyone willing to contribute a list and their story.
You can email me at: lifeinalist@yahoo.co.uk

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    Mar 4 2012: One way I use lists is likely the most common you will find in your investigation. I use lists to deal with cognitive load- to record things I don't want to use the mental space for in working memory. A to-do list or an address book is this sort of list. I would count entries into a desk or wall calendar as this kind of list.A second way I use lists may or may not count within your definition of a list. That is I record ideas as a form of graphic organizer. I record pieces of information pertinent to a project on which I am working all in one space (usually on paper, actually) so that I see them all collected visually in one spot. Seeing them this way helps me remember them simultaneously but also is a prop for helping me connect them as if in a web that forms my conception at this moment of the idea on which I am working.I have not used lists as a means of processing difficult life events.
    • Mar 5 2012: Hi Fritzie. Thanks for your post - I'm interested in your use of a kind of graphic list, and wondered if you had any examples you would be willing to send me to use in the book? I will, of course, change names and any identifying details if you'd prefer. No problem if not - thanks for your thoughts.
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    Mar 6 2012: Hi Lulah, Yes I have examples from small things to large. I will E mail them direct to you for the book.
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    Mar 5 2012: I will consider it. Meanwhile, if you do an internet search for "graphic organizers," you will surely find examples that you find connect immediately to your research and interests.
    I will be interested in your observations, so please report back!
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    Mar 4 2012: I used to be a big fan of the list. I remember feeling very good when I got through the list but needed to resist the temptation of 'list dependency', that is to say adding things onto the list which were relatively simple (and that I knew I would get done) in order to feel a sense of progress. This is essentially why I stopped...lists for the sake of lists to boost a sense of accomplishment undermines the making of the list in the first place. I then moved from this to a more powerful period when ANYTHING I added to my list would happen in serendipitous ways...it got quite overwhelming to such an extent that the power of the written word needed to be adopted with caution and I had to think very carefully before I wrote anything down. I believe that when you you write something down it becomes manifest and circumstances conspire to move you towards achieving it, this is why lists are a proven way to avoid procrastination, as Xavier mentions, suddenly it's not a thought anymore, it's real..this is powerful...........Probably why the product Post-it has made millions....
    • Mar 5 2012: Thanks for this reply Stuart. I'm really interested in what you say about the lists becoming almost too powerful. Do you have any examples of things that happened or actual lists, and would you be willing for me to use them in the book? I will, of course, change your name and any other identifying details if you'd prefer. No problem if not - thanks for getting in touch.
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    Mar 4 2012: I use a lot of lists in various fields of life, for grocery shopping, to-do-lists and for project management. It helps to remind things but I often catch myself recognizing that I actually didn't need the list at all. The simple creation of a list helps me already to remember and to categorize my thoughts.
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    Mar 4 2012: I write them to overcome procrastination.
    If I have a list of things to do, I attempt to complete them as quickly and efficiently as possible.

    Other than that, lists serve as alternatives to attempting to memorize every generic and tedious thing that I have to do/buy/go to.