I’ve always been a list maker and I take it very seriously. I specifically remember one time in college, I left my planner behind, full of lists and important notes, after spending a long weekend at home. My friend tweeted, “The fact that Abby left her planner at home and I can hear her freaking out from downstairs . . . her actual worst nightmare.” She knew, and not much has changed.
I like to make lists because it helps me stay organized and productive by achieving specific, goal-oriented tasks. I don’t have a great short-term memory if I don’t write things down, which makes my notetaking and list-making even more important.
Lists are a great way to organize your thoughts and information, provide simple structure, help you prioritize, and can also be fun!
If you’re not a list maker, I highly recommend becoming one to help conceptualize obscure tasks and projects, stay focused, and achieve both long and short-term goals. So how do you get started?
Types of lists
I create many different types of lists: master lists, weekly lists, daily task lists, shopping lists, lists of groups of things I don’t want to forget – you name it, I probably have a list for it. Do any of these types of lists seem like they’d benefit you? I bet the answer is yes!
Every job I’ve ever had appreciated how organized I was, and I swear it’s because I take my weekly and daily task lists very seriously. Before logging off each day, I organize my lists by checking my outbox, calendar, and any other reminders I’ve added to Outlook.
I think the main thing that keeps me so organized at work is my color coordination. Once I cross off a task as being done with for the day, I then use a different color highlighter to mark whether or not that task is dead, or if I need to keep it in mind for the future. Does this task affect anything else that I work on? Will it require follow-up in a few days? Will I need to address it again in a month or two? By asking yourself these questions, you’re able to see the bigger picture.
I’m not as strict with my personal lists, but they definitely keep me organized. I have a “schedule” list that I put daily tasks on that I want to accomplish that day/week. For shopping lists, I love using the Target and Amazon list features to add things I want to purchase. Like I said before, if I don’t write things down, sometimes I forget, so I do my best to do so. I’d say I might not be as organized in my personal life as I am in my professional life, but it’s pretty close!
How to keep them
I keep my personal lists on my phone (notes app, store apps) or sometimes I write lists down on any scrap of paper I can find for groceries or quick things. I have one work notebook, that I keep my tasks in the front, and my notes in the back. The one notebook concept keeps me very organized – I can always find what I’m looking for!
The bottom line
At the end of the day, lists keep me grounded and focused. This sense of level-headedness is so fulfilling! How good does it feel to cross things off (once, or even twice if you’re like me) your list? I know it’s not just me! If you’re looking for a way to feel more in control of your life, and actually get stuff done, consider some of the tips above.