By Evelyn Richardson Here and There

Lists are an absolute necessity for keeping me functioning; so much so that they themselves are a source of stress.

If I lose a list, fail to consult it, interruptions happen to deter me from its track, or at the end of the day I have made little or no headway in checking off chores, I'm discouraged and depressed.

The pristine list shows me up as inadequate for the tasks at hand.

To be clear, I'm referring to written lists, not mental. My inability to remember one thing long enough to do it is what has brought about the proliferation of pen and paper lists in the first place.

The only list that I recall being made in my early years were grocery lists, as we didn't make it to the store but every month or so, and once-a-year Christmas lists for Santa.

Now my lists fit into several different categories:

1. My travel itinerary for the day - This prevents my getting the cart before the horse and having to circle back around and waste time.

2. Shopping list - So many times I have gone to the market without a list and returned home missing the very item I needed most. Without a list, I am likely to spend more money, too, as I am guided by the attractive things I see.

3. Chores around the house - I must look harder for a blouse hidden in some closet before I'm dressing and counting on having it to wear; write a note to a friend before the occasion slips so far into the past that the note isn't timely; put ant poison along the way of an ant trail on the patio before they find a way inside the house; dust (I purposely and continually put off this chore, so it is on nearly every list.)

I may think of an entry for one of my lists in the middle of the night. Brain strain occurs as I try to embed the idea in my memory, but I'm unsuccessful and it is gone by the time I wake up.

It's strange that I can remember having had a thought but the thought flies away.

I try to prioritize as I write, so if I don't get everything done, the less important will be left over.

Nevertheless, it is disheartening to have to forward leftover items to the head of a new list.

I have been known to insert trivial tasks that are bound to happen on their own, such as "take a break" just so I will have something to check off to boost my spirits.

Although I realize the possible farce and the pitfalls of lists, nothing is much more rewarding than to toss a completed list in the wastebasket.

I make it a point quite deliberately to mark through that final item before I crumple the paper. Good feeling.