The Dark Side of Your LIST

More reflections of a reluctant list maker.

List making may  be an art, but list keeping is another matter.

So lately, we’ve been having a bit of fun with my reflections of a reluctant list maker. Even with the miraculous invention of the sticky note in every color of the rainbow, I can lose my list in less than 10 minutes. I have a unique hormonal chemistry that repels sticky notes. They fly away from my presence with a will of their own. I can lose my list between the bananas and the milk nearly every visit to the grocery store.

And though I know many people store lists on their phones now-a-days, I can’t bring myself to part with paper.

Do you keep your lists on paper or on your phone?

There’s just something about a sticky note…

These days, my lists are semi-sacred spaces. My list is a safety net bridging the gap between remembering and forgetting, between winning and wandering. With limited capacity, my brain is like a colander–too much information leaks out through the holes of my attention.

Oh yes, I’m a believer now.

Keeping a list is a practical way to organize tasks and increase productivity.  I can’t tell you how, but I know this is true. It is also a good way to remember to pick up kids on early dismissal  days.

Have you discovered the dark side of list making?

The dark side of THE LIST…

A good list can produce an almost magical kind of productivity. But when your list becomes THE LIST, it’s all too easy to discover the dark side of list making.

How often have we measured our value or defined the success of a day by the items we can cross off our list?

We all love that adrenaline rush of  checking off the last item on our list, don’t we? Yet when did we begin to allow productivity to proclaim our worth?

To define the difference between a good day and a bad day?

Does productivity proclaim your worth?

You see, many of us have been brain washed and fully indoctrinated into the dark side of THE LIST.

I know someone (besides me) out there needed to read this truth today.

More confessions from a reluctant list maker:

Sometimes I write every thing I can think of that I need to do for the rest of my life, just to see if it can fit on one sticky note.

It’s a good thing they now make REALLY BIG sticky notes! Oh the joy of a jumbo sticky note!

There's nothing like the joy of a jumbo sticky note to up your organizational game.

Okay, so that’s a slight exaggeration.

But seriously, do you ever write down more than you know is humanly possible and then expect yourself to gloriously check off every item by dinner?

Have you spoken unkind words to yourself because you didn’t complete THE LIST?

Friend, this is a another bad habit from the dark side of THE LIST that will drive you crazy and take you captive.

The pressure will keep you scurrying around, frantic from morning till night. This is no way to live.

Find balance.

“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you“–Matthew 6:33

Put God first and trust Him to help you with all the doing. Seeking God first can give us wisdom to put the right things on the list. With God’s wisdom, we can choose the best over the good and the important over the seemingly urgent.

Let me tell you, I’ve spent plenty of time stressing to accomplish things that I didn’t really need to do.

My God First List 2

Plan what you need to do, but remember there are only twenty-four hours in a day. God is still good and you are too, even if you can’t get it all done. This is a truth to put on THE LIST!

Now if I can just remember where I put my list…

Have you discovered the dark side of list making? What does that look like for you?

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Interested in more thoughts on what happens when we let our list become our “worthy meter,” you’ll enjoy the post, In Lists We Trust by Dana from Living in My Freedom.


  1. I LOVE this post – especially the sticky note references. Love your heart and your honesty sweet friend. BTW: I took your survey!!!

    • Ginger Harrington

      I thought you’d like this one! You are my list inspiration in the very best way! I love that you ride that amazing balance of staying organized but not controlled by your list. AND you make your lists and planner look SO COOL! You are so precious and I appreciate your survey love!

  2. This is brilliant, Ginger. So often I let my list define me. I feel good only when I get everything done. I love the thought of not letting my list define a good day. And you made me laugh since I’m another one who loses lists.

    • Ginger Harrington

      I’m happy to have made you laugh–a great gift indeed. I used to feel like I needed to list off my accomplishments each day when my husband came home. After he worked from home for a year, I no longer feel that need. He saw all that I do in a day first hand. Blessings, Friend!

  3. Ginger, I loved your God first list! I need to print some of those up. 🙂 I too often focus on what didn’t get done. Thanks for a great post!

    • Ginger Harrington

      Love for you to print and use the God First List. Focus and productivity are great, but not when we start shaming ourselves or thinking less of ourselves because we didn’t accomplish our goals. Thanks for joining me.

  4. hilarious! i thought i was the only one (I may have your list by the bananas stuck to my jeans…–i’ll pick up the wine for you, so no worries) near you at grace and truth- and yes, we need both AND our lists.

    • Ginger Harrington

      Thanks so much, Sue. I’m so glad I could spark a chuckle for you today. Sometimes sticky notes will stick anywhere…but where you want them to. Have a great week!

  5. I LOVE my lists…and yes I capped that intentionally. 🙂 I’ve never seen post-it notes larger than the one you’re holding and for my hubby’s sake, I hope I never find it. But you’re right, Ginger. At times my list dictates my day more than the Spirit — and this is not my desire. {Maybe I’m the other person who needed to read this post.}

    • Ginger Harrington

      Oh for the love of lists–what would we do without them? Bumble around wondering, “What do I need to do next?” I’m not sure what you’d actually do with the jumbo sticky note other than group presentations and such. Have a terrific weekend, Cathy!

  6. You are speaking my language! I literally just wrote a post about this!
    I fell prey to the accomplishment “god”
    So happy to hear others deal with the same issue!

    • Ginger Harrington

      Thanks for sharing your post with me. It’s always so fun to find someone writing on the same idea. I like that you dive more deeply into the problem of making an idol out of our accomplishments (what our lists can represent). Sometimes recognizing an issue helps us to catch ourselves when we start down that mental/emotional path. We have the choice to turn our thoughts around and go a better direction. So glad we crossed paths here today.

  7. 1. Yes I loose my lists regularly- we must have the same spiritual list losing gift…
    2. I’m guilty as well of letting what I didn’t cross off make me feel bad…
    3. Your invitation to seek balance and God first is Heaven sent..
    Thanks friend : )

    • Ginger Harrington

      I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who struggles with this. Who knows, maybe one day our lost lists may cross paths–teehee. I’m honored to know that you have been encouraged through this post. Blessings!

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