Time to Kick the Bucket(list)?
The eternal quest to complete tasks on a list
People love lists.
You can see them all around us. In fact lists have become so ubiquitous with modern living that you can find travel lists, food lists, places to visit list, 30 under 30 list, and so on. The most sought after lists come with a cap on the number - Top 5 food places in Delhi, 10 richest Indians, 10 must-read fiction books, 20 most exotic places to travel in Asia. They come with photos of people, houses, places and experiences, to make it real and appealing. The simplification of the great unknown to a definitive list gives some people comfort and others a heartache. Regardless, lists are here to stay, and the list of lists is endless!
Let us take a step back, to the modest to-do-list, a productivity hack.
Most people start their week with a finite set of tasks, and end up with a list as long if not longer, by the end of the week. The list stays incomplete, rinse, repeat and the cycle continues. Few of them give up on lists along the way and turn anti-listers for life, few others write books on why lists are important, and some even do podcasts on how you can optimize your life with better lists.
Pyschologist Dr David Cohen puts our love of to-do lists down to three reasons: they dampen anxiety about the chaos of life; they give us a structure, a plan that we can stick to; and they are proof of what we have achieved that day, week or month.
The psychology of the to-do list – why your brain loves ordered tasks
In the context of a life filled with lists, what do I consider the mother of all lists?
It refers to a list of things that one wants to do before they die.
Deep breath. Die sounds dramatic. So the list better be damn good. Something you cannot really wake up one Sunday, and say “naaah”.
A phrase that was used sparingly has become more common and has replaced wishlists, things to do next month, and all kinds of lists. I recently read a young traveler bungee jumping and mention “finally off my bucketlist”. Does this activity deserve to be in the Bucketlist? Is this a one-off thing? Can it never be repeated again realistically? I thought that was a bit of a stretch, or maybe I was reading too much into it because of my current obsession with lists.
There is some cultural context and debated history on the usage of the word bucketlist, but it has become more commonly used only in this century. Maybe the everyday lists are getting longer, and we need a north star list that supercedes them all, to stay true to ourself and our pursuit as an individual.
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