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  • Writer's pictureChristian Durham

Contemplating one's lists No: 6

List Theory:

A) Reasons to write a list:

i) They get stuff out of your brain so there is room for other crap.

ii) They are a means of avoiding actually doing anything else already on the list.

iii) They can look nice and neat so you fool yourself into thinking you are actually more organised that you think.

iv) When you have ticked a few things off one list, it feels great writing a new updated list cos A) iii) comes back into play. And when you have completed that new list and are throwing the old one away, it feels as if you have actually achieved something. Double bonus!

v) It’s feels good when you score through something on the list.

a) Because you have achieved something

b) It gets you one step closer to A) iv) which will lead back to that double bonus.

c) You can discover new ways to score through something on a list (it’s like the fun of browsing in a stationary shop)

1) Different colours (with or without a ruler)

2) Different colours

3) Wavy line (like a sound wave)

4) A really tight wavy line that makes it look like it is redacted (and then suddenly you are daydreaming about being James Bond), which is another form of A) ii)

5) Crosshatch

6) Putting a cross through each letter of each word of that listed item

7) Using an eraser if you write in pencil

8) Using an eraser if you write in pen, but using it so hard you wear away the paper. (This will quickly make the list weak and in danger of falling apart, so you will be forced to complete A) iv) again which gives you another double bonus! That is quite a few double bonuses we are getting through!)

9) As you explore these (Av) c) 1 to 8), the higher the number, the more time you waste so you gain on A) ii) as well.

vi) It can also feel comforting to work out ways to define priority within the list.

12) Do you asterix items of importance (with different numbers of Asterix to define different levels of desperation)?

23) Do you underline the most pressing?

34) Perhaps a highlighter pen could be enjoyed?

45) Some people like to box or circle around certain items.


B) Reasons not to write a list:

i) They are physical proof of all the things you still have to do.

a) Unless you quickly score off everything on that list (which will never happen unless you are truly organised and if so you don’t need to write a list in the first place so bugger off and stop wasting your time reading my list)

b) Unless you have an assistant and then you can simply pass it to them and let them get stressed by it.

c) Unless it is a list of lots of really good things like

1) eat all the cake in the house

2) go out and buy cake and then eat it

3) bake a big cake and then eat it

ii) You have a 'to do' item on the list that reads ‘don’t read this list ever again’. This is a nasty paradox. Beware, because:

z) if you don’t look at the list ever again, then you can’t score through the item on the list so it kind of becomes the equivalent of the Schrodinger’s Conundrum but minus the Cat. It is both completed and incomplete as it has not been scored through. And obviously looking at the list, means you lose the right to score through the item. (That does work on the basis that an item on a list is not completed until it has been crossed out. This is an arguable point – one could write a list of reasons for and against – if you feel like it. It is bit like the concept of whether a tree falling over in a forest makes a sound if there is no-one to hear it. But then if you start going down that rabbit hole, you soon hit the issue of; what if no human is there to hear it but, for example, the rabbit who has built the hole we are currently vortexing through is in the neighbourhood. Would they hear it? Who are we to say that this wandering rabbit should be classified as a ‘no-one’. He has allowed us to lend/rent us his rabbit hole and so that would assume he has some sense of entrepreneurial spirit in him. That might make him a someone. If he hears it, then we must assume other animals would hear it. Then insects possibly. As sound is only a vibration in the air, then a single celled organism loitering around on a nearby leaf, might be shuddered by the vibration of the sound. If they can ‘hear’ then unless the tree lives in a vacuum, it is unlikely there is not some living thing that will be in the vicinity. So where are we drawing the line – the concept of hearing? what a no-one is? And are we even considering the idea that a tree may decide to fall gracefully and silently onto a bed of soft moss so even if there was a somebody present, they might not hear it as there was nothing to hear. (They could have headphones on as people are want to do these days)

y) if you don’t score it through you don’t get to A)v)c)9) which will get you to Aii) and then A)iii) and the fabled double bonus.

x) if there is anything on the list that is actually crucial to your life, you would be relying on your memory to remember to do that. But the more lists you write, the more you train your memory to dump things from it as soon as you write it down in a list to make room for other crap (see A)i) ) So you will likely forget the important things in your attempt to complete B)i)c)4). Then you could end up slightly or really screwed.

iii) By distracting you from actually doing something else on the list, you waste time and don’t complete anything. This is a pessimistic way of looking at A)ii).

iv) If you lose the list, you are totally buggered! (See B) ii) x) )

C) Live your life without lists.

i) Don't even think it!

ii) I said, 'No!'

PS: this list is not comprehensive as I forgot to save the first list I wrote.

(A good reason to stick with paper and pen, me thinks)

PPS: going back to A) v) c) and talking of stationary shops – that is a great way of hitting A) ii). Go browse a stationary shop for a lovely new notebook to start all your lists afresh. Writing the first list in a newly opened, paper smelling notebook is almost a cheat way of getting to that Double Bonus!

PPPS: Always leave one number on the list without an actual item written next to it. It’s a great way of freaking yourself out when you look at the list later. It’s like making your heart do a bungee jump, if you are a true list aficionado.

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