Making a List and Checking It a Lot

This couldn’t be happening. It was always right here. I put it in my backpack every single morning – how could I possibly have forgotten?

But my beautiful, organized, color-coded, checklist-sporting planner was conspicuously absent from the set of binders and notebooks in my backpack. An empty pocket where my life should be.

This may sound a bit overdramatic, but it wasn’t until I had to spend the day without my planner that I realized how much I use it. It’s not so much the actual planning – I can remember assignments pretty well, and there’s always the syllabus if something slips my mind – but the security blanket part of it. You see, I love to make lists. Lists of chores, lists of assignments, lists of miscellaneous emails that need to be sent, lists of time slots in which to accomplish each of these separate, color-coded sets of things. It has become my habit to rewrite, reorganize, and otherwise revamp any and all of these lists whenever I’m bored, nervous, stressed, or overwhelmed (oh look, there’s two lists in this sentence alone!) or at intervals throughout the day. It’s how I convince myself that I have my life together. My planner gives me the proverbial handle on things. When I flip through and see the scribbled beauty of its check marks and highlights, it both soothes and empowers me, like the montage of Elle Woods buckling down and kicking ass at school while “Watch Me Shine” plays in the background. (I may or may not also watch that montage whenever I need some quick motivation.)

So at first, I felt adrift without my planner there to guide me. I reached for it at all the usual times. When Spanish class got boring, I made do with scribbling funny nicknames on my boyfriend’s practice test, to which he retaliated by adding “Her Majesty” to my own name. When I had to go last for a presentation, I made mental notes and adjustments to my prepared talk and asked a few questions of the two people who had gone before me. Now, as I sit at work waiting for people to walk in (I’m on receptionist duty this hour), I’m working on another post for this poor, neglected blog.

Generally, when life is a bit too much, seeing it all written down and prioritized helps me stave off anxiety and further stress – as I said before, a security blanket. But maybe, just maybe, I need to put the planner down every once in a while. I did survive a whole day without it and I didn’t go too crazy. Besides, what good is there in being organized if I’m not really present?

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