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The Power of the Yellow Notepad

– Don Qualters

My wife Lynn and I often joke that there are two types of people in this world. Those who make lists everyday and those who make fun of those who make lists everyday. Most households usually have one of each. Lynn is the latter. She is convinced that I must have lists for my lists, all neatly written and color coded.

If you are a list person like me, I think it’s safe to say, deep down, you know “the list” will never go away. Although, I’m not sure we ever want it to. That’s just how we’re wired. My favorite purchase at Costco is the 5-pack of yellow notepads. Weird. I know. But, admit it, some of you are smiling right now. There really isn’t anything better than a brand new yellow note pad.

My lists have a shelf life of about one day. Sometimes less than a day, but absolutely no longer than a week before they are re-written and re-organized. And penmanship really matters. Hopefully you’re still smiling right now. If not, you’re probably leaning into Lynn’s camp. Go ahead, make fun. Because about half of you are like Lynn. Your lists are twice as long and stored in your head. But I like the gratification of seeing stuff crossed off. I believe the same “strike” should be used every time. I prefer a simple line through the task. But an emphatic scribble works too. Colored marker is fine as long as you use the same color for each strike-through. Once, Lynn crossed off one of my list items using a pencil. There were clearly 10 other items stricken with a yellow highlighter. This led to, let’s call it a debate, and a rewrite.

Whether you write lists or not, we all have a lot to do. We strive to make every minute, every second, count. We strive to be present for those we care about in a life of chaos and demands. We strive for balance. Work. Life. So we schedule. Help our kids with homework. Check. Read to our grandchildren. Check. Go for a walk with our spouse. Check. Whether it’s work or life, a list is just the promises we keep. Even if you’re not a list-maker, here’s a good one we can all agree on:

Be humble.
Be kind.
Be honest.
Be on time.
Be present.