Blog, SoCS

SoCS – Check it off the List

Stream of Consciousness Saturday is brought to you every week by Linda Hill. Check out her blog for the rules and the contribution of other bloggers.

This week’s prompt:
Your Friday prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is “list.” Make or talk about a list. Enjoy!!

I once worked for a major health insurance company handling all the data communications for the organization. They spent a good deal of money trying to streamline productivity. Efficiency was the golden ring.

We had an external company come in and spend months tracking the workflow of every document in the company. It was called Business Process Improvement. The walls of the building were covered with huge sheets of brown butcher paper – lists in black sharpie showing every department and every person that touched every document in the company. Fun times let me tell you.

After that we were tasked to keep a time sheet of every minute we spent during the day. Another long list.

  • 8:00 – 8:05 Phone Call
  • 8:05 – 8:30 Staff Meeting
  • 8:30 – 9:00 Authorizing Invoices
  • 9:00 – 9:10 Cafeteria for Coffee

You get the gist. People worried about their jobs –  being ‘right-sized’ was a thing then. Funny thing was, we were not allowed to list how much time we spent making the list.

Then all the members of the management team were required to attend an organization workshop. This was part of the ‘clean desk era’. The idea of the workshop was that you only had one project visible on your desk at a time – and all of the associated paperwork contained in one small folder. At the end of the day, the goal was to have only one piece of paper on your desk – a list of tasks. Definitely not my stye. I prefer the ‘everything within an arms reach’ approach. Organized in folders, but all on my desk. I despised trying to pull folders in and out of my desk drawers all day to work on the crisis of the moment.

Now that I am retired, I don’t make many lists. I make lists for the grocery store, or I make lists for tools and materials I need to order and that’s about it. I keep all the tasks I need to accomplish right upstairs in the ole’ noggin.

35 thoughts on “SoCS – Check it off the List”

  1. Ah, the days of searching for efficiency. I would be willing to bet that more than half the results were managers looking at each other asking “do we really pay someone to do this?”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are right Dan. I think it was eye-opening (if they acknowledged it) to the executive team just how complicated our work was. The managers did shake their heads because the teams they sent in had zero experience with any of our business or technology. To think that was a ‘selling feature’. We know nothing so we ask everything.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I worked on those teams several times during six years as a consultant. Our other selling point was, “we can pierce the political veil.” We would say anything to get the job. Once we learned what you did, and how you did it, we marketed that expertise as well.


        1. Oooooh, now that is a phrase I never heard and one I am sure would have caused a great deal of eye-rolling among the staff! Marketing has its own brand of magic spin.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. I never had to work with lists like that. But in my private life, I have always been a compulsive list-maker. From shopping lists, to things to do lists, and lists of what to pack for holidays. I still do it now, even though I rarely need to.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lists work well for some people, Pete. I tend to lost them or leave them at home when I go to the store. I still have a good memory for now, so it helps meuse mu brain power.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. You have just reminded me why I retired from my job the first chance I got. I worked as a counselor for 30 years. This productivity and efficiency micromanagement started in the last 10 years as the agency grew and got steadily worse at the expense of our clients and the wellness of some of the best counselors. People at the top are generally out of touch with what happens on the front lines. I’m thankful you and I survived and are living better now.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think you hit the nail on the head, JoAnna. All the fuss about the minutes of the day often caused people to feel deflated. People who would voluntarily work the extra time to complete a task became more inclined to just leave it for another day. The extra time people gave to their work was often way undervalued. It is much better not living in that stressful environment. Glad you are out of it, too.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I was once asked during a cognitive behavioural therapy group class (don’t even ask, but it was incredible!) to make a list of every single thing I did during the day, everything I ate and drank and my mood throughout. This had to be done for a week … I lasted three days, but saw the pattern. Everything I physically did, every activity, every bit of exercise made me feel wonderful. If I sat on the sofa watching trashy telly, I felt ghastly. Very obvious I know, but a useful exercise. I therefore have total sympathy at your having to do your list … it would have driven me a little potty to say the least. Now I just write lists because my memory is awful! Lovely post. Katie

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for stopping by and taking the time to read and comment. That does sound ghastly, but I can see the value. But seeing the value I’m afraid still would not inspire me to do it for long. Lists imply pressure to me – who needs that? Do I forget things? Yes, but not the important things. We each have our own thing that keeps us on track, don’t we? ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Absolutely! I only use lists when my brain is completely filled to the brim and there’s something important that I need to do. Although a shopping list always helps me so I can plan meals otherwise I’m in chaos!

        Liked by 1 person

      1. When something came up, you’d search through the pile and find it, then put it on top of the pile. Gradually, you’d get to where you could throw out the bottom half and not lose anything important…

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Isn’t it funny how some things had very little relative value as far as projects and tasks were concerned? If they were never finished, no one even noticed.

          Liked by 1 person

  5. Yikes, this didn’t sound like fun!

    My first gifted supervisor tended towards Stephen Covey and Angeles Arrien, quite nice although we worked really hard. But we did great things.

    My second evil supervisor just believed in dreadful interminable meetings where he thought up way more “tasks” than we ever had time to do. The third and last supervisor was brilliant and gifted, but lied all the time about things. Ugh.

    I just plugged along trying to do good work and inspire folks to connect with plants and nature throughout my career.

    Hmm, glad to be out of that now in post-paid-work life – much more fun as a volunteer!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lisa, it is good you had an engaging profession you enjoyed so as to (hopefully) rise above the chaos and just do the work you enjoyed.


    1. Your comment made me laugh out loud, Ron. Yes, it was rare to have an executive who could really see deeper into the organization. I had a few, but they were rare.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. My husband is an inveterate list maker. Me, not at all. I do allow for a sheet on the refrigerator for people to write things we are out of. I use that list when I shop, though I shop without a list!

    Liked by 1 person

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