Who doesn’t love a good list?
Emergency Disclaimer: This article has nothing to do with ‘Listicles’, I dislike them as much as anybody, I promise.
Lists are the basic building blocks of large swaths of my life. Ever since childhood school days I have been making lists to keep my thoughts organized and to ensure tasks that need tending to get done.
My own work ethic straddles two seemingly different dominant traits.
One is procrastination and the other is extreme efficiency. I don’t leave things piled up on my desk. When something needs to be handled, I do it then and there. But I also pace out my tasks that are not immediately necessary and when this group becomes too plentiful, it is time for a list.
There is something so satisfying about crossing things off of a list.
It is these mini accomplishments that provide momentum to keep working. Breaking down the sheer volume of tasks into bite sized pieces also helps counteract the psychological dread of falling too far behind of mountain of obligations.
I keep lists of all sorts of things, like I said, lists are the foot soldiers of my organizational world. Some of my lists are quite unorthodox, but also very useful.
I figured why not share some of my list categories with you so that maybe you would pick up a good habit or two;
Books; I keep an alphabetical list of all the books I own, I also add an asterisk to the list after I have read the book. Something about keeping track of all the books I have read feels good, probably the same reason I do not like electronic books. I need the tactile sense of a real book. My goal was to read 1,000 books which translates roughly to a book a week for 20 years. I accomplished this goal a few years ago.
Things to Do If I Die; I am the spouse that handles the financial stuff, all of it. My wife would be in quite a pickle trying to decipher the complicated series of pulleys and levers that is our financial situation. I made a clear list for her of the What, Where, and How for our various accounts, policies, properties, assets, and bills. I also included household tasks that fall under my purvey like furnaces, sprinkler systems, tractor batteries, fuel additives, generators, you get the picture. Finish off with a nice little note and at least this part of your passing won’t be an added problem.
Bugout List; If you bother preparing for a disaster situation, a master list of available relevant items and their location is very helpful. The situation will already be very stressful, the last thing you need is to forget where the defibrillator is stored 🙂 This list also helps you see at a glance in what area you are woefully under stocked 🙁
Household Inventory; This is a master list of everything you own that costs more than $50. Theoretically, I keep this list in case of a massive fire loss. This is also a good place to keep your warranty paperwork and serial numbers for appliances and electronic devices. Check out the updated revision to this one.
Passwords; In this modern age I literally have over 100 computer sites that require a password and it is not smart to have all your passwords be the same, or to store them all in your web browser. I am up to 4 separate sheets of paper for this techno mess but it is a necessary evil of contemporary living. If you would like to see all of my passwords, click here.
House Additions; Everyone remembers what you paid for your house, but that is usually way different from what you have sunk into your house over the years. At some point you will likely move or sell, keeping track of the various upgrades or repairs you have made gives you a way more realistic picture of what you are actually into that house for money wise. I have $20k worth of brush removal, gutter add-ons, whole house generator rewiring, etc… You should keep track of this the way you do any other spending.
I kept track of House Additions on my first house 2002-2005. Click Here to see. I also keep track of expenses at my current house on this list.
Cases; This is specific to lawyers, but really it could be altered for lots of other occupations as well. Eventually you will likely leave that job you have now. Updating your resume and or interview skills may be hard if you are trying to remember things from years ago. If I have an interesting or outstanding moment at work I jot it down on a running list so as to better retrieve these nuggets of commendation later.
Any other ideas for a helpful list?
02/24/2018 – I just got a comment on another post about traveling that I need to share here. Tom from Dividends Diversify said [a travel log is] “a nice way to document and remember your trips and travels. My wife keeps a binder with notes for us. We frequently look back on it.”
This is so true. You will forget a large percentage of the things that happy to you on a trip. Write them down when they are fresh in your head.
AND always write the location of a photo and who is in the picture on the back of the photo, you will be happy you did this years from now.
P.S. Yes, now I realize that only old people still have actual photographs and that all of yours are digital….
P.S.S. I also keep an index car in my glove box complete with every car fix/maintenance I do and the date. Comes in handy.