All about lists, #3: Lists as (productive) playtime

This is the third in a series about lists: tools for making them, ways of making more useful—even using them as creative tools. Posted as inspiration strikes and time permits.

Long weekend coming up and to me, that means one thing: uninterrupted putter time!

I’ll be attacking many non-urgent to-do items on various contextual lists, but I also plan to allow myself a few creative list-making opportunities.

Yes, I make lists the way some people do crosswords or sudoku—to keep my brain sharp. I mean, I do crosswords, too, but I confess to feeling guilty at only working my brain; I like working my brain and having something to show for it afterwards besides a filled out puzzle and (somewhat guilt-tinged) sense of accomplishment. Lists help keep my brain sharp and can, when plotted properly, provide a valuable public service.

Some Lists of Lists You Might Think of Tackling

These are helpful for everyone, and give your brain a fun, gentle stretch. For those who like to get double-duty out of stuff, they also make excellent blog posts!

  • favorite movies for a rainy day
  • favorite movies for Saturday
  • favorite "go-to" movies (IMDb is great for tracking these: here’s mine
  • best experts on… (I wrote one on advice columnists)
  • to 10 tips on whatever it is you know about (I did one on newsletters)
  • top 100 books of all time
  • top time-saving tips you’ve learned in your life
  • five things you’d go back and tell your 20-year-old self
  • five things you’d tell someone starting out in your industry right now
  • best ways to use 5…10…15 (etc) minutes
  • top 10 blogs that people MUST read
  • etc.

The above lists do shed some insight onto your own psyche, which can be fun (and, yes, useful!) from a self-development standpoint. The potential lists below work that even harder. You can choose to externalize them or not. I provide links to my own lists that I’ve made public; people seem to find them entertaining at the least, occasionally illuminating at their best:

How about you—are you a closet/compulsive listmaker? What kinds of lists do you write to help keep your mind sharp and the world informed?

Let us know in the comments!