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I’m Going to Need a Bigger List

I told Kevin the other night, “I think what I need is a Master List.”

His reply? He laughed and he laughed.

Okay, so it would seem that more lists might not be the answer to getting back on track. Maybe even that the very last thing on the long list of things I “need” would be yet another list.

But that is not the case. The Master List helped me clearly see that I went completely off the rails in terms of what could reasonably be accomplished in the time allotted on the quilt production front [more on that later]; that I could combine the cookie baking for Joey’s class party this week and the baby’s birthday bonanza, thanks to the wonders of freezing; and that the house would not clean itself in the meantime.

Things the list did not mention, but that I know to be true: I’d make better headway in every direction if I could resist the pull of the computer. I think drastic measures are needed in this area. It always seems like I couldn’t actually be accomplishing anything else in the ten minutes (or thirty, or what have you) here and there, but that’s simply not true. All you need to do is go without television or internet for one day to see how much more you manage to cram into the same twenty-four hours you had the day before. Still—it’s easier said than done sometimes.

Speaking of time management, I’m going to go ahead and sum up 98% of the advice that I cannot resist reading in books and magazines which promise to help you “avoid the time-crunch”: Plan ahead, and then work ahead.

As in: Avoid the mad dash to get lunches ready thirty minutes before you head out the door by packing them the night before. Or: Avoid rushing around in the morning because you overslept by getting up fifteen minutes earlier. “But I’m too tired!”, you say? Go to sleep an hour earlier!

See? The secret is that there is no secret. The work will always be there, and the number of minutes in any given day is a constant. Common sense tells you that, but if you’re like me, you keep thinking that there must be a better way; some missing link. But no. It’s just hard work and discipline, and–if you’ll excuse me for saying so–a better list. Tonight’s agenda includes consulting the new and improved Master List (I kind of like saying it), and then going to bed a little early.

Hey, but while we’re here, I have another secret that is not a secret. It has, however, made me very happy when I’m putting together a quilt, so I’ll share it. Once you have your blocks all arranged and are ready to stitch them into rows , it’s helpful to at least label the first block in each so that you don’t lose your place. [That’s the no-secret part.] Is this the voice of experience speaking? Oh, but yes. So, first I marked them with little stickers, which fell off. Same for pinning on little numbered papers; a couple would inevitably come undone along the way. Up until now, I’d resorted to using straight pins, and just marking the second row with two, the third with three, and so on. Um, that gets a little unwieldy around row #8.


Enter the flower-head pins that Mom put in my Christmas stocking last year and a Sharpie marker. I just numbered a bunch of pins, and use them to mark my rows. They’re really sturdy, so I haven’t had a problem with them working their way back out as I go along. Very simple trick, but it’s made me enormously happy.

I’m not sure why I felt it was necessary to have specific “1st” and “last” pins, but it made sense at the time. I guess I just really like boundaries.


3 responses »

  1. I like master lists and having boundaries, too. It’s helpful to organize my chaotic thinking so I can get things done without forgetting my goal or getting lost in the process.

  2. Not sure if you have an iPhone, but if ya do – check out TaskPro. It’s not free, but it’s awesome. And it contains master lists and sub lists and checkboxes and happiness.

    • Ooh, that does sound compelling! Right up my alley. It’ll probably be about 2011 before I upgrade my phone (which is a total dinosaur even now) — imagine the lists I’ll be able to manage by then!


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