“List simplify, clarify, edify.” ~ Tom Peters
If your daily schedule or inbox leaves you in a perpetual state of paralysis, frozen by the sheer number of things you have to do, take a deep breath – you are not alone. For most of us, there is simply too much to do and not enough time to do it.
That unending “to-do” list , coupled with the pressure of being the perfect spouse, the perfect parent, the perfect employee, the perfect child – I could go on, but I’m starting to feel a little stiff – often leaves us feeling overwhelmed at best.
You know the saying, “different strokes for different folks”? Well, different people employ different methods to combat the chaos, and while not all are socially acceptable or legal; one method that is both (bonus), is list-making.
It may surprise you to know (who am I kidding), that I have been a lover of lists since I was a child (right alongside my toy Dustbuster – for more on my tidy childhood click here). I would make lists of toys, books, friends, family, things I liked, things I disliked, my thoughts, my feelings – you name it, I made a list about it.
While obsessive list-making isn’t for everyone, research has revealed a number of benefits to making even the occasional list. Don’t believe me? Well, allow me to list some benefits for you (no pun intended). Lists can help to:
Simply put, creating a list is one of the most effective ways to order or organize anything. With the help of a list, projects and ideas, no matter the size, can be broken down into manageable steps. The abstract can become concrete, the intangible can become tangible.
Whether you’re looking to build a skyscraper or organize a child’s birthday party, lists help take a project from inception to completion in an orderly fashion.
Have you ever found yourself with so many tasks and deadlines floating around in your head, that instead of actually tackling any of them, you decide now would be the perfect time to organize your sock drawer? While I am all for an organized sock drawer, a better way to prioritize is to make a list.
By visually seeing all your tasks and deadlines at a glance, you can more effectively determine what needs to be done first and what can wait until later. It is important to note that as priorities change, so too will that list – the key to success is flexibility.
Psychologically, the act of actually writing something down brings with it a certain level of accountability. Once you have written a task, a deadline or a goal down, you have given life to it and are more inclined to develop a plan to accomplish it.
If you are already a list lover like me, then you will know the extreme gratification that comes from checking something off your list. Crossing an item off your list, no matter how small, gives you the control, which is quite powerful from a psychological standpoint.
Scientific evidence has shown that for many, crossing an item off a list releases the feel-good hormone, dopamine. That feel-good hormone feels, well so good, that arguably you will be motivated to continue checking things off your list to keep that feeling alive.
While lists do offer a number of benefits, the type of list or the way you make one is entirely up to you. Perhaps you aren’t a fan of paper and prefer making lists via the notes function on your smartphone or tablet. On the other hand, you could absolutely detest electronic devices and choose to create your list on a notepad or in a notebook.
Whatever your preference, know that as your tastes change, your lists will evolve. Over the years, I have kept lists in many different ways – on my phone, in a Moleskine notebook, in binders, planners and notepads. One thing that has never changed; however, is that I prefer lists that are pretty (I can imagine how shocked you are by this).
Lately, I have enjoyed designing a few of my own lists and thought, why not share them with all of you? Over the coming weeks, I plan to continue adding lists to the blog. Feel free to print as many as you like and use them to organize your life, or as inspiration to create your own lists.
Handy Hint – if you complete similar tasks daily or weekly, laminate the checklist and cross those items off with a dry erase marker.
As I am a big fan of homekeeping (this post is full of shockers), I thought that would be the perfect place to start, so below you will find both my daily and weekly homekeeping checklists. I have created a deluxe or blank version, to suit different preferences, and welcome recommendations or requests as to what types of lists would be helpful to you.