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Some of us make several lists each day, and some of us find lists a nuisance. If you love lists, we have some tips for fine-tuning them; if you don’t, here’s why, and how, you should start making them.

The first step in making lists is to find a place to put them. A journal or small notebook work very well for list-making because you can keep all of your lists in one place and easily bring them with you so you don’t forget a list at home. Using post-it notes might work better for you if you like to put reminders in places where you need them, i.e. if you have things to order online and want a post-it on your computer, or you want to put a note on the door so you don’t forget your umbrella in the morning. Maybe you want to keep your notes electronically on an app. The most important aspect here is that you don’t want to misplace or forget your lists.

Next, in general, we suggest keeping your work lists and your personal lists separately. If you work in an office and rarely work outside of the office, you can keep one journal at work and one at home. For those of us with more integrated work and personal lives, it might be more helpful to have one journal.

Lists can be as detailed or as general as you want them to be. You could write a list for everything you want to accomplish in one day, one week, one month, one year, the future… you get the idea. The great thing about lists is that, unlike to-do lists, they don’t have to have deadlines. They can if you want them to, but your lists can also have open deadlines.

In addition to creating lists based on time, you can base them on categories. Your lists could be as specific as “Ideas for April 2 meeting” or “Names for December article,” or they could be as general as “blog topics.”

If you don’t typically make lists, think of some things that tend to slip your mind, like specific dates, or things you like to keep ongoing track of, such as which mornings you bought coffee for which you need to be reimbursed. These are the tidbits that are most helpful to write down.

Our biggest, general tip for makings lists is to keep them organized. This means keeping track of where you physically put your lists, and the way in which you create your lists. If you make five lists every day but misplace them on a regular basis, they’re not going to be so helpful. If you make five lists every day but there are several repeat tasks on them, you’ll need to make some changes.

Lists are incredibly helpful in helping us stay on track because we have all of our responsibilities on paper and in front of us. They show us what we need to accomplish, and by crossing things off, show us what we have accomplished. They allow us to divvy up our busy schedules so we can stay on top of all aspects of our lives. If you aren’t a list-maker yet, we hope you’ll consider grabbing a journal and jotting some things down. It should feel good to get your ideas down on paper, and it will feel even better to cross them off.

Photo Credits:
Post-it notes: “wavebreakmedia / Shutterstock” –  Notebook and phone: “TaLaNoVa / Shutterstock”