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List Magic

It’s that time of year again.  The time of year when, despite your best intentions, the number of things to do and the number of days to get them done are constantly at war with one another.

I’m beginning to feel overwhelmed by the number of things I need to do between now and the end of the year, which means it’s time for a little List Magic.

Seriously, lists are magical — there should be an actual “school” of spell casting based on lists, like candle magic, sex magic, knot magic… list magic.

How does it work?

Well, you start with a list.  For ongoing things that need to be done daily or nearly daily I have a Word doc on my computer.  For more short term lists (errands to run that day, for example) I prefer a paper one.

And sometimes the two lists get combined into one and sorted out later.

So, my current list of things to do by the end of the year might look something like this:

put together yearly calendar
Weekly Pagan Coffee Night
get gold spray paint
check to see if I have regular blue paint
ornaments for in ornaments
make ornaments
Diet Pepsi
24s (this really does mean something to me, honest!)
post office
memoir group
Sue’s graduation
writers’ group
grocery list for Yule baking
finish Book One of The Other Mages
get Sanguine printed
first edit on Sanguine
get book 5 of The Academy of the Accord printed
print outline for bk 5
find editing bag (seriously? how do you lose a large bright red and black bag?)
White Elephant
read for Seidh group
Weekly Pagan Coffee Night
books for Becky
stuff for Caro
sign for library

That’s all that I can think of off the top of my head, although I know there is probably more. (Weekly Pagan Coffee Night is on there twice because it meets two more times this month.)

The list looks long — and intimidating. (It’s especially intimidating because I know that there are some things I’ve forgotten to put on it, but that’s the great thing about list magic — it is endlessly flexible.)

So, I have my list.  I can approach it in one of two ways.  I can leave it as is and just cross stuff off (or use strike-through if I keep it in Word) or I can prioritize it either by importance or immediacy (when stuff needs to happen).

It doesn’t really matter how or if you organize it, but I usually like to organize it a bit more as it gives me a better grip on things. (For example, I would make a list of the places I need to go and things I need to do and get while I’m out today, and another list of things that are happening/need to be done soon, and another list of more distant deadlines.)

Once you have your list (or lists) the key is crossing stuff off of it.

If you’re keeping it on the computer, don’t just delete the completed items, use the strike through. (With a hand-written list there may come a time when you need to rewrite it so that you can better see what you still need to do, but before you dispose of the old list compare the two and see how far you’ve come.)  If you delete things, yes, the list gets shorter, but you don’t get the same visual satisfaction of seeing how many things you’ve accomplished.

And here is the important part:  everything that you mark off of the list is an accomplishment.


And that’s where the magic comes in.

Everything that you cross off of the list is one less thing hovering over you.  One less thing to worry about.

And one more thing that you have gained control over, one more step taken toward gaining control of your temporarily out of control life.

If you’re the sort who likes the drama of ritual — or if it’s been a particularly nasty list — you might enjoy tearing it into long strips when it is finished, or burning it, or even giving a satisfied smirk as  you delete the file from your computer as you free yourself from the tyranny of too much to do and too little time to do it.