To do or Not to do ?!

Blog 18

‘To Do’ Lists -

To do or Not to do ?!

My husband uses ‘to do’ lists and they seem to work for him. There have been a few moments of near to complete panic if one of the lists disappears before everything is marked off – but all in all they’re a positive.

I vividly remember my mother keeping track of food to be bought and dinners to be prepared handwritten on a piece of paper, in pen, located on her refrigerator and held in place with a handmade magnet saying I ♥ Mom!

In researching ‘to do’ lists I’m finding evidence that, even with smart phones and software programs that assist you in tracking your ENTIRE life, people of all generations consistently rely on the trusty paper and pencil to jot down a quick ‘to do’ list when they’re on the run.

This fascinates me so… let’s delve deeper shall we?

I found an article on something called the Zeigarnik Effect. Apparently the Zeigarnik Effect was originally thought to be the brains way of assuring goals are eventually accomplished, by prodding you into urgency until they are.

Though… Recent research has shed new light on the relationship between the conscious and the unconscious in our cognitive to-do lists.

Instead it’s now believed that the Zeigarnik Effect is…the unconscious mind asking the conscious mind to make a plan. The unconscious mind apparently can’t do this on its own, so it nags the conscious mind to make a plan with specifics like time, place, and opportunity. Once the plan is formed, the unconscious can stop nagging the conscious mind with reminders.

Quoted from:

I see that as mind-to-mind ‘passing of the baton’ in an effort to keep us from going CRAZY!

Let’s look at an example of a famous ‘to do’ list of Johnny Cash which I found to be telling.

It’s –

  1. Simple

  2. Honest

And it’s in NO WAY prioritized by present standards – but it worked for him.

How many other people out there beside myself find, when describing an item, an event or a person you’re using list form?

Example: What kind of truck did you buy?

  • Toyota

  • Red

  • Automatic

  • 4-wheel drive

  • In Stock

Example: How was the concert?

  • Crowded

  • Fun

  • Not long enough

Example: What did he look like?

  • Tall

  • Overweight

  • Red Hair

  • Freckles

  • Wore Boots

I think you get the idea. And yes, I based the last one from a character I saw on T.V. once!☺

Continuing my research I ran across some published material done by Psychologist Barry Schwartz and Professor Sheena Iyengar. In a nutshell…they’ve both explored problems created by having too many choices (RE: The Paradox of Choice and The Art of Choosing) i.e. Toilet paper - single ply or two ply, quilted or flat, with aloe or without.

Professor Sheena Iyengar found, in complimentary research, that our brains could only handle 7 items before it becomes overwhelmed.

By applying her principal - you should (ideally) keep your ‘to do’ list prioritized, concise and containing less than 7 items on it (to be on the safe side!).

In summation, whether you make lists and adhere to them with no deviation OR you half-heartedly make lists for the soul purpose of unburdening your unconscious mind…lists serve a relevant purpose for many people.

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