The Power of a List

I am a list maker. In fact, the practice boarders on an obsession. I have a list for books I want to read, movies I’d like to see, things I need to do, food I’d like to cook and places I want to visit to name a few. At this stage of life, my lists serve a variety of purposes. I have a Pinterest site with rows and rows of Boards that span several topics. Those boards, along with the Instagram accounts I follow, are the ultimate feel-good lists; no words – just inspiration. My other lists provide focus, accountability and motivation.

Why Listsbeach 7.20.17 (2)

Making a list reduces the clutter in your mind and gives order to things that matter. Whether it is a list of what you want to do or what you need to do, the act of writing a thing down implies commitment. Inevitably, that commitment will narrow your focus and lead to clarity, accomplishment, and growth. Lists can easily transform the way you think, act and feel. 

Lists For Time Management

During my working years, I used lists to organize tasks and manage time. Lists kept my attention focused on priorities at hand, as well as long term goals. Productivity was paramount to success and my lists were a constant reminder of the big picture.  When I became a Mom, there were more tasks than time and managing my “things to do” list was imperative.  That list helped eliminate useless or repetitive actions and conserved much needed “mommy” energy. A time management list is probably the most restrictive and joy sucking list of all. It feels great to no longer need that one!

Lists That Encourage

Just this week, I made a list in the comments section of a blog. Tamara at My Retirement Project wrote a post titled, “Five Things That Make Me Happy” and asked her readers to respond with their list of five things. I think I listed about ten.  When I finished writing the list, I felt immensely satisfied. It included a lot of things that contribute to my balanced lifestyle; social time, couple time, personal fitness, and life-long learning challenges. Since I place a lot of value on each of those categories, it was nice to see that my reality and my intentions are in sync.  It does not get better than that.  The same thing can be achieved with a gratitude list. Make a list of all the things that are good in your life and feel your spirits lift before you finish writing.

Lists That Organize

When I take on a new project, the first thing I do is make a list that begins with the goal. Doing that organizes my thoughts and helps me to prioritize tasks, with the ultimate goal always staring at me from the top of the list. Adding a time-line to the list is an extra step that I find helpful.

Lists That Resolve Issues

We have all used a Pros and Cons list to resolve issues. It is the first thing I do when faced with an important decision. Our empty-nest and retirement stage of life brought lists and lists of “what next” types of questions to consider. Making those lists separately and jointly helped us find common ground and work toward a unified goal.

Lists That Aide Memory

This list is an unfortunate necessity for me these days. I cannot go to the market without creating a list first. I am a big fan of the Notes function on my phone, and keep most of my lists there. That tool comes in handy when someone mentions a new restaurant, book, movie, or product that I know will be forgotten within thirty minutes of the conversation. My daily schedule is listed on Google Calendar, and has built in alarms to remind me where I am supposed to be at any given time. Without that list, I am lost.

Lists For Accomplishing Goals

List making and accomplishing goals go hand in hand for me. My list of things to accomplish includes a healthy balance of challenges and routine that keep me motivated and moving forward. This is where I celebrate and feel good about me. It is probably the most common list of all, but it requires the most attention and dedication.  Restrictive goals derail efforts and can be damaging to self-esteem, so it is important to be realistic and flexible. At this stage of life, the purpose of goal setting for me is to generate feelings of anticipation, excitement, and ultimately, contentment.

We’d love to hear from you in the comments below. Feel free to add your list of lists!


23 thoughts on “The Power of a List

  1. I use lists, electronic and paper, all the time. There is nothing as satisfying as crossing an item off a list, unless it’s looking back at a list full of completed items.


  2. I’m a big list user as well. One thing I haven’t overcome is the use of list making to overcome procrastination. I usually have 1-2 things that keep getting transferred from one list to the next fresh list! I have one thing that has been on my list for over a year!


  3. Brian is the list maker in our household, he is also very diligent at getting things done. I think I rely a lot on his lists. I do like a food shopping list, it keeps me from buying unnecessary items. I like your tip on writing on the notes function on your phone, I only recently realised it is a very useful function 😄


  4. visiting from #MLSTL and I am totally a list maker. I’m looking into bullet journaling for next year as it looks like it uses the list tools all on one book space…and can be customized for the various lists you mentioned. Just bought a bullet journal in Black Friday sales….so will see how it goes!


  5. I am a list maker as well, sometimes just brainstorming a list of everything I need to do and then categorizing all of the items with color. My sister used to keep lists of books (by author) that she read so she wouldn’t double dip them at the library.


    1. Jennifer, I used a brainstorming list in staff meetings when we had a project that needed fresh ideas. It is amazing how one idea triggers another one. I can imagine it must be very helpful when organizing your things to do. Thanks for stopping by.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I used to struggle with anxiety, and learning to redefine my beliefs helped me to overcome it. Now, when I am feeling anxious, I will do a “brain dump” in the form of a list. I will list everything I am worried about. Then I will go back and redefine everything on the list. It helps a lot!



    1. Bethany, that is a great use of a list. When I used to keep a journal I did something similar and called it “dumping the trash.” I can imagine that redefining your worries must put them into a new light.


  7. I’m a list lover too – nothing like ticking off things as you do them! They’re always great in blog posts too – easy to read and often really engaging. I guess it’s my ordered mind that makes me like them so much (I have a list of books to read, and movies to watch when they come online!)
    MLSTL and I’ve shared on my SM 🙂


    1. Leanne, I love articles and Blog posts which include lists. I go straight to the points and then back to read the full article if the list grabs my attention. Yes, there is nothing more satisfying as ticking off the done items.


    1. Hi Sue, I am glad that you found the categories helpful. Tick marks =achievement=satisfaction! I am enjoying reading all the other posts on MLSTL. Thanks for hosting with Leanne.


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