Are You a Good List Maker?

Organization is not only important to make sure you have a productive day at work, but to a productive life. We all want to make the most of our limited time. And knowing how much we need to accomplish in the time we have available is key to making sure everything gets done. List making seems fairly straightforward, right? But there are actually some crucial points to keep in mind when you’re trying to make really effective lists.

Don’t try to live with just one to-do list

Many people try to keep their whole lives organized on one list. This is often the least effective and most daunting way to attempt to stay organized. Begin to think of yourself as a multi-list person. You’re going to look at the big picture, but then you’re going to break the big picture down into smaller vignettes.

Start with the big goals

It’s easy to get lost in details when you’re making lists. That’s why it’s important to keep in mind what your overall goal is when you’re trying to plan out your day. So rather than initially making a list of every step you might need to bake a cake, just put “bake cake” on your list. You can go back over your list of big goals when it’s done and see if you need more sub-lists to accomplish everything you need.

Running lists

Keep some running lists that you can continually add to as certain tasks come up. Your grocery list is a great example of a running list. So if you have a big goal of baking a cake, you want to make sure you add any ingredients you might need to your running grocery list. Other good running lists to keep up around the house are chore lists, maintenance items that need to be done lists, home improvement store lists, and home finance task lists.

The power of the sub-list

This is a great way to break bigger tasks down into more manageable chunks. Maybe you have a list of monthly tasks. Then a list of weekly tasks, or daily tasks. With sub-lists, you avoid overwhelming yourself and just tackle the small bits of larger projects. The key to a good sub-list is limiting its scope. Make sure it’s focused on just one bigger task so that it’s a list that’s only briefly in use. Limiting sub-lists to tasks that can be finished in a day or two is a great idea.

Harness list technology

There are some great list making apps and programs available. At work, you’re probably using project management software like Trello or Workzone, and those can do amazing organization work if you use them consistently. They’re also very collaborative and great for working in teams. For more household items, apps like Wunderlist or Todoist can help you keep track of your personal lists, and of course you can share and have multiple users updating and working from the same home lists.