As a child and young teenager, I hated tidying my room. Mind you, the cleaning of it was done by my mother. So, it was an easy feat for me. Basically. Well, at times, the piles on my desk became too big, but I had a wardrobe with space enough for toys and accessories. Open the door, stuff everything in – chaos gone. Until my mother figured what I was doing. She was a very wise woman. She realized that it was daunting for me to take out everything and then place it back … neatly. We came to an agreement: Every once in a while, she’d just empty the wardrobe on the floor, and I’d go through the things, toss what could be tossed, and placed the rest tidily behind the doors. Problem solved.
The result of this simple agreement spread to my life as an older teenager and an adult. I was done with clutter. I needed my tidiness – not to the point of obsession, but to the point of chaotic order. Meaning, I could have a pile on my desk to a certain point, as long as I knew where I found what. Later, in my office as an editor-in-chief, I had filing trays on and filing drawers in my desk, and a couple of filing cabinets in our archive room. And for my private business stuff, I had ring binders on a shelf at home. Still do, by the way.
My life as a journalist, meanwhile, with well around 100 days on the road per year, numerous trade fairs to visit, marketing plans to write, symposiums, workshops, and readers trips to organize proved chaotic. Of course, I had calendars to keep my ducks in a row. One that I carried around to be on top of when I would be able to schedule which appointment where, and one on the wall for my team to know where I was roaming in case they needed to reach me.
It was also when I started writing my “to do”-lists. Whom did I need to call? Which article needed more research? Which articles needed to be written yet? Where did I need to book a hotel room? Today, I’m still writing such lists – which chores around home need to be done? Where do I need to go? What errands do I have to run?
There are even more lists in my life. For one, I usually write a weekly meal plan on Sunday afternoons. That makes sure of a balanced diet for my husband and me, of old favorites as well as new recipes, and leaves just enough room to be spontaneous when a sudden craving for something changes up things. No need to say that in the cause of writing a meal plan I also write my weekly grocery list, which ensures I’m not ending up wasting food or money.
As to my writing, I couldn’t do without lists either. A plot is basically a list of chapters – that’s how I start out once I have the idea pretty much rounded out as to what I’m going to write. Also, in my series of seven Wycliff novels with its recurring characters and places, I have a descriptive list of currently 45 fictional businesses and institutions, 93 fictional characters in my fictional town, 40 fictional out-of-town characters, countless fictional private homes, and more to come. I have a list of what topics I have written in my columns in the past and what I might intend to write about in the future.
And I keep lists of birthday wishes, Christmas wishes, an outing bucket list, a Christmas mailing list, and a list of writing projects past, present, and future. Sound obsessive? Well, once I have written such lists, I have rarely a need to go back and check. But when I do, it makes things so much simpler. Basically, in order to end up cluelessly as little as possible, this girl is literally never listless. Now, doesn’t that sound inspired?!