Effective List Making Strategies That Make Life Easier + FREE To-Do List Printable
Why use lists? Many believe drafting a list takes time away from performing the listed tasks. But when used wisely, the time it takes to make lists is a small price to pay and well worth it. Here are several benefits to using lists — as well as correct and incorrect ways of making them.
Don’t get sucked in.
If you let yourself, you can make unending lists that you spend hours or days on. This is where lists go beyond helpful and become time-suckers. Limit your lists to the major things. Groceries, moving, spring cleaning, weekend errands, and work projects are all list-worthy. Even then, keep it simple. For example, when you write “clean floors,” it’s implied that includes sweeping and mopping so there’s no need to add those specifics.
Don’t ignore it.
Writing the words is only half of the process. This probably goes without saying, but to reap the most benefits from list making, you must use your lists. There’s no point to writing a list if you’re not going to refer to it, add to it, and scratch things off it. If you make a list and tuck it away inside a book or a drawer (or a lonely corner of your computer hard drive) it has no value, so make sure you have it front and center to effectively tackle your action items.
Use an outline format.
Occasionally, details are necessary. Outline lists are perfect in instances such as planning for vacation. Many people tend to forget to pack or plan the small things. If you’re one, try making an outline list. Use major points such as, “pack toiletries,” “visit the museum,” and “schedule pick-up” as headings. Under those use details you may forget, like, “sunscreen,” “museum hours of operation,” and the time the taxi will arrive.
Make lists during downtime.
If you feel guilty for taking time out of your day to make a list, use your free time to do it instead. Jot down a couple items (on your phone or on paper) while watching television, waiting in line, or on your coffee break. That way you won’t feel bad that you’re tapping into time better spent on other things.
Organization of Chaos
Making a list is like clearing a cluttered room. If you have a lot on your plate with work, home, errands, and schedules, it can get jumbled around inside your brain. Sifting through and pulling out pieces of information as you need them is exhausting. Instead, make a list. Make a few lists. Write down what you need at the store. Write down major tasks that you need to complete at work. Record itineraries, chores, movies you are dying to see, and books you want to read. Clear your head; write it down.
We all have a lot to remember. We all forget things, losing them in the mess of information we deal with every day. Lists don’t forget. Write it down, refer to it as needed, and remember everything.
Few things are more satisfying than accomplishments. Make a list. As you complete tasks, mark them as done. It feels good to see all you’ve actually accomplished.
As you draw those satisfying lines through completed tasks, you also see what’s left. The closer you get to the finish line, the more driven you’ll be. It motivates you to carry on and get the rest done. Thus, making lists increases productivity.
Sometimes, despite your best efforts, your priorities don’t fall in line. Looking at a list you’ve made allows you to order aspects of your life and work by importance. Put numbers beside the list items or write the items in the order of importance. You’ll be more likely to stick with the order if it’s in list form than if it’s in your head.
Try drafting a list or two. The little time and effort it takes is worth it, we promise. Lists can help you organize your life, remember things, increase your productivity, and even reduce your stress.
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