I am not a naturally organised person. I have great ideas, a huge zest for life, and an insatiable love of learning, but the trade-off for my out-there right-hemisphere-dominant brain is that it’s not always easy for me to stay focused on the day-to-day jobs involved in running a household.
When my mum takes my children somewhere, I’m in awe at how it takes her at most a quarter of the time it takes me to pack a bag, load the car and get going. Perhaps it’s something to do with the fact that on the way out the door I’ll pause as I pass the printer, to scan a few pieces of my daughter’s artwork; or have to run upstairs three times for a jacket (the first two times coming down empty handed after turning off the bathroom light, putting away a pile of socks, or plucking a few stray eyebrows); or feel the need to hunt for a couple of the books I’m in the middle of (you never know which you might want to read in the five minutes waiting to see the doctor); or reaching for the landline phone in an effort to locate my mobile phone (in my handbag).
People like me shouldn’t try to multi-task – but try telling that to my wandering mind.
Luckily, I’ve always been fascinated by tools that help compensate for scatter-brain tendencies. I got straight A’s at school thanks to Tony Buzan’s memory systems. My vacation packing-list procedure is incredibly sophisticated (excessively so, but that helps engage me). And now – oh glory – there’s an app for everything!
When my friend Sarah told me about the list app Clear, it just sounded too simple to be useful. But once I had figured out the multi-touch swipe gesture system and entered a few lists, I was hooked. Here’s why Clear is a life-saver for someone like me:
Multiple Lists in One Place
I’ve long since seen the value of lists for recording an idea the moment it pops into my head (before something else pops in and replaces it, three seconds later). But if I put everything on one list, it soon becomes too long and boring to check, and multiple paper lists quickly get lost.
Being able to have multiple named lists in one place (and on my phone which is always with me) means I always have the appropriate list to hand.
For example, we spend a large part of Tuesdays and Thursdays out of the house doing homeschool activities that require various pieces of clothing, books, food and other supplies. So I have my Tuesday list (“Take to Home Ed Centre” and my Thursday list (“Take to French”). When a puppy joined our family a few months ago, I was easily able to add the unfamiliar dog items onto my lists so that Harvey’s needs were also met during his days out with us.
The lists are great for travel. Most spring and summer weekends we visit our house at the coast, which I love, but keeping track of what food, clothes and toiletries were in which house used to be a challenge. Now I have “Take to Coast” and “Leaving Coast” lists, plus “Packing up Coast” to remind me to lock the balcony doors, clean the loo, and set the dishwasher before heading inland for the week.
Other lists I have right now include; “November birthdays”; “Project supplies” (all those bizarre things you need for homeschooling, like red cabbage, electrical tape and popsicle sticks); “Errands” (for when I’m in town); “Home Ed Ideas”; “Ikea wish list” (to focus me during my occasional visits to the Ikea marketplace and stop me coming home with a dozen more picture frames I won’t use); “House Quick Wins” (5 minute decluttering jobs); and “Boring Stuff” (my Christmas presents list – shhh!).
Crossing Off and Reinstating List Items
One of the reasons Clear works so well for lists you use regularly is because when you swipe an item as completed it remains, greyed out, at the bottom of the list, ready to be reswiped into play the next time you need to refer to the list. Which means I don’t need to start from scratch remembering what I have to take out with us every Tuesday. Meanwhile one-off items can be permanently deleted by swiping in the other direction.
Other Useful Functions
The ability to have multiple lists in one place and to delete and reinstate items are the two most important features of Clear for me, but there are other little touches that make the app a pleasure to use. Lists and list items can be re-ordered, renamed and colour-coded, for example.
Of course, I still have to remember to check my lists – right up until the last item is swiped off. And while I remembered to take dishwasher tablets, teabags and the kids’ travel clocks to Center Parcs a few weeks ago – I forgot to pack my coat. “I’m surprised you made it to the car without your coat!” remarked my husband (who knows my lack of tolerance for English November weather). “I thought my coat was in the car!” I replied. (It’s okay, there’ll soon be an app for that.)
I’m loving the new right-brain friendly world order!