Are you a list maker?
There is an interesting psychology behind the making of lists.
They can indicate that the person is a rule breaker, or that they are compulsively well-organised. It all depends on what you do with the list after you compile it.
Of course, for a forgetful person a list is an aid to not forgetting something when out doing the shopping. Who hasn’t visited the shops to pick up something that was running short and come back with a bagful of other “stuff” but not that essential item they went out for?
Equally in a high-pressure work environment writing down the tasks you need to complete ensures you are organised and efficient.
But an uncertain memory is not the only motivation for making notes for everything you need to do.
List-making can be very satisfying if it gives you satisfaction every time you cross off a completed item.
But psychiatrists suggest that there is more underpinning the making of lists, while it can help you to prioritise tasks, “each crossed-out task is the visible proof that we’ve done our duty,’ says psychoanalyst François Leguil.
There are some who claim that making lists can quell anxiety and breed creativity and others argue that lists are essential if you want to be a successful leader.
For the rebellious type there can be a good deal of satisfaction from actually ignoring the list, but according to psychotherapist Dr Bruno Koeltz, there are three reasons why people fail to carry out the tasks they have noted:
The first is that pleasurable activities are more seductive than important but boring tasks.
The second is performance anxiety, doubt about whether we are up to the tasks we’ve set ourselves?
The third is a need to protect our self-image. By not undertaking a task, we avoid the possibility that we’re not up to it, and we’re not confronted with our failings.
According to psychiatrists obsessive compulsive list makers can be trying to overcome the chaos and impose some order on everyday life.
Obsessive compulsive list makers sometimes carry things to extremes. They write lists for weekly and daily tasks, prioritized daily lists, to-do eventually lists.
Some even break them down further into specific categories such as for shopping, or for things lent to other people, packing lists for travelling… the list is endless!