The Human Obsession With The List

waynes top 10

My Top 10 List on Why We Are Obsessed with The List

What is it with us and The List?

Why do we need them, why do we love them, why are we forever writing the list?The List

  • The to do list
  • The shopping list
  • The elephant list ?
  • Craig’s List
  • The Do Not Call list
  • The call list
  • The price list
  • The song list
  • The top 10 list
  • The bucket list
  • The best of list
  • The list of all the lists…

You get the picture, why are we forever writing lists, obsessing over lists and loving to read lists?

A recent blog post on Perfectionism, outperformed the average blog post at Get Better HeadQuarters in terms of viral circulation.

The question that I asked of a few people was what made this post more popular than others?

One response that I received was that people Love the list. So if you have the time, check out the post and let me know what your thoughts are: Perfectionism: A Self Defeating Game

Anyways it got me thinking about the list and it’s true, there are more blog posts titled: 3 Ways to Survive… or 5 Sure Fire Workouts to… or 7 Of The Greatest Ways to…

You see where I am coming from.

I thought it was somewhat overused, and I didn’t even title the article that way. I used my secret, Ninja, SEO…

I mean I just picked something that sounded cool to me.

Anyways, we are infatuated with the list.The List

Personally I have been trying to avoid writing out the list. It was something to do with several of those topics listed in that article on Perfectionism, and the fact that I just don’t want to be an anal retentive geek like that anymore…

That’s just me, don’t take anything personally if you are Perfect.

All that said, I find it kind of interesting.

So here is my Top 10 List on The Human Obsession With The List:


10. We are all a little OCD:  No comment.

9. We don’t like to feel out of control:  The list has the ability to bring chaos to order. As an organizational tool, nothing quite pulls things together like sitting down to write out the list. The List enables us to control things that aren’t in front of us, organize time that isn’t upon us and even give instructions and bring order to people who are miles away from us. Crush Chaos, write the list.

8. We don’t trust our brains to remember things:  This kills me and I am as guilty of it as any one. If someone gives me something as simple as the title of a book to read, I have to add it to the list inside my iPhone. I don’t trust that the next time I go the bookstore I can remember the title, or the author or even what it might have been about. The electronic list might be slowly destroying our ability to memorize and recall things, scary… I think I will play a little memory tonight with my kids.The List

7. We feel a sense of accomplishment in checking something off:  Our world has become crowded and over run. No, I am not talking about other people, I am talking about what we impose upon ourselves on a daily basis. Some days, we add way more things to our lists than we could possibly do in the next week (Perfectionism at its finest…) But when we write something down, take the time to complete the task appropriately, it does give us a sense of having accomplished something.

6. We like to think we are busier than we are:  This is classic in my humble opinion. The person that writes all the lists because they need to feel like the busiest person in the world. Everyone knows someone like this… What is the point anyways, sure we need to be able to prioritize things, but more often than not we are giving more attention and energy to all the other things that we think are keeping us so busy that we rarely give our full attention to the matters and people sitting right in front of us. Stay Present – Busy is a Self Defeating Game!

5. Multitasking:  Closely related to #6 but how many of you write a to do list, so that you can split your focus on several tasks at the same time. I don’t have any proven research or studies or anything like that, but I believe they are discovering that opening too many windows (doing too many things at the same time) dramatically reduces overall productivity and quality in everything that we do. Multitasking is a dinosaur, so 1990’s…

The List

4. We are in too much of a hurry:  Write the list so that you can get in and get out. (Start the car!!!)  It has become far more about the destination than the journey. I remember when I was a kid, if we were going out camping or dirt biking, we would just start getting stuff together and in so doing create the thought process required to cover every eventuality. I remember going through the tool box to find the right wrenches I might need for the day. I remember going through my tackle box and doing a visual, making sure I wasn’t forgetting something before I went off fishing for the day. I thought for myself…Nowadays, we are too busy writing the lists for our kids. They suffer because of it! There is incredible value in time spent walking around the house and the garage with them showing them everything that they are going to need and why so that they can learn for themselves… Helicopter parents with no time to spare…

Do you know how to spell Love?  T I M E = We all need to start giving more of it.

3. We are all lazy:  I am guessing that my sarcasm up to this point has probably covered this one but we are too lazy to read instructions, to spell things out, every one wants the bullet points…

2. A numbered list appears official & well researched:  Truth. The list, numbered, prioritized and ranked becomes the official authority on the matter at hand. “What does the list say?”, “Follow the list…” It doesn’t matter if the creator of the list, wrote it while half asleep or half drunk. When presented with a list, it becomes the gospel on what is too take place.

The List1.Clear Expectations:  All that rambling on but it is true. The list sets a clear and concise expectation. If the list is titled 100 Things To Do Before You Die, there had better be 100 Things, you are expecting 100. 99 just is not good enough. Whatever is on the list it usually takes all of the ingredients, if it is a list of 10, the 1st and the 8th alone likely won’t do. You are expecting all 10. Clear and Concise…

0. I am just messing with you and throwing a wet towel on my need to be a perfectionist… That’s 10 – I am putting The List to bed!


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7 Responses to The Human Obsession With The List

  1. blessedart1111 October 29, 2013 at 9:30 pm #

    I gotta tell you Mike, every single one of these spelled true for me…what?!! yes, ev-er-ry one! And I’m glad about it because although I knew why I made “The List” in the first place this post further confirmed it loud and clear! Hey, you said it well Mike nothing else to add to it. In fact I’m going to accept it and put “The List” to bed too. LOL. Thanks for sharing;-)


    • Mike October 31, 2013 at 6:19 am #

      I sincerely appreciate the comments blessedart1111 and thanks for reaching out as well, I will get back with you by email very shortly.

  2. blessedart1111 November 11, 2013 at 8:38 pm #

    Hi Mike, I wanted to let you know that I have nominated you for the Versatile Blog Award because I think your blog is straight awesome!. You can go to my blogsite to pick up your award and for further information.


  3. sealeychars December 7, 2013 at 7:44 am #

    GUILTY!!!!! LOL I love lists! There you go I said it. It’s out. I’m a list kinda girl. Kids list, coffee list, tope ten places to be list, places I like list. In fact I found your list a little limiting and wanted to know if I could add a few more. Hahaha. Great post! It’s made me much more aware of how many times a day I use lists and will def look into where I can do without them. Thanks for following my blog. I’m just starting up but really wanted to get this started for a long time. And finally I’m a lover of life, relationships mean EVERYTHING to me, I’m obsessed with personal growth and even more infatuated with helping others grow. I get extreme pleasure from watching people move from ignorance to awareness. Devout family woman. There you go said it without saying what I do. I think. See why I need a list… I’m getting confused without it. Thanks for popping by my blog. I’ll definitely be back to yours!

    • Mike December 8, 2013 at 11:07 pm #

      Your enthusiasm jumps right off as I read it, I love your energy sealeychars! We have an incredible community that you would fit right into and something tells me you would bring a lot to the crew… Let’s connect!

  4. Transformational Life Coach February 24, 2014 at 8:13 pm #

    That is me exactly. I love my list and am made fun for it all the time. Interesting enough until reading your blog, I never thought I was a perfectionist. I know that sounds a little funny, however it all makes sense.

    Thanks, so glad I found your blog!

    • Mike February 24, 2014 at 8:53 pm #

      I poke fun at myself with both of these posts, I am list writer and a recovering perfectionist…

      I am glad you enjoyed it and very grateful that you came by!

      Please don’t keep it a secret

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