When I was a little girl, my mother was ride or die by the lists she made to organize herself. Everything from grocery lists to chore charts to getting me and my siblings to write what we wanted for Christmas in September, my mother loved a good list, and my family used to make fun of her lists and how forgetful she was without one.
However, now that I am an adult, I find myself making just as many lists, if not more so. I have about three different lists just for my quilting hobby (“Dream Projects”, “Unfinished Projects”, and the ever growing “Fabric Shopping List”). With starting a new business, I was utilizing all of my list making skills to give me an organizational advantage. That being said, here are five tips I have for anyone who hasn’t converted to this easier way of life.
- Take the Time to Make a List
In Middle School, I had a teacher who continually said “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail”, and that motto still haunts me to this day. When starting a project, instinctively we’re enthusiastic and want to dive in head first. However, if the list making process is skipped, then eventually we get lost and discouraged over the project. If we had taken even 10 minutes to write out all the tasks that needed to be done, it saves a lot of time and energy in the long run. Personally, when I start my day I need to write out a to-do list. I find if I skip this step, I’m not as productive and I end up feeling stressed because I’m mentally trying to remember everything I need to do, thus worrying that important tasks will may be forgotten.
- Go in Order
When making a list, I start with the first task/item I need to do/buy and then write down what goes immediately after. For example, when making a grocery list, I first list everything I need in the Produce section, because that is the area of the store I walk through first. If I end up thinking of something I need in a different section while I’m still listing produce, I’ll write it down however many spaces below my produce items, so I can still write down fruits and veggies without forgetting about the item in the other section.
- Make Categories
Following the same line of logic as tip #2, having my tasks listed in categories helps me stay organized. For instance, when I was making a to-do list for my business, I had a category for “Website” and under that category, I wrote down all the things associated with creating my website. This helped, as anytime I started to work on the website again, I just looked at my list and knew exactly what else I needed to do without searching other areas of my list.
- Use Checkboxes
When I’m making a to-do list, I tend to draw squares next to each item, so that when I am finished with an item or task, I just check it off the list. When you have a list of things to do that’s outrageously long, it’s motivating to check a task off as it’s completed. Doing this can also help calm you when you’re stressed about everything you have to do, as seeing the completed tasks can help you feel accomplished.
- It Doesn’t Need to be Pretty
With social media, we all feel the pressure of having everything be aesthetically pleasing. I have seen pictures of lists with special calligraphy and colour coded with 20 different professional artist grade pens. Believe me when I say that your lists does not have to make it to the Museum of Modern Art. Unless you are publishing your lists online or in print, your list does not need to look pretty. With that being said, if you are the type of person who is only motivated to follow a list that looks beautiful, then you can certainly spend time adding drawings and colour, however that is not a prerequisite for a perfectly motivational list.
I hope that by “listing” my top list writing tips, you’re able to be a bit more organized throughout the day. Did I miss any tips? Feel free to comment below and let me know what other tactics can be used in list creation.