Why you should love a list

If there’s only one thing you check off today, make it writing a list. The benefits can be long-lasting. 

Do you start each day with a dozen tasks swirling around in your head?

As the day gets under way, remembering to do those tasks can be tricky and it’s easy for a few to fall through the cracks.

Whether those tasks are practical and focused on day to day life at home, or whether they relate to work or to your longer-term goals, writing them down in an old-style list can be a powerful and handy tool.

Creating a list of things to do today, this week or in the longer term can help you get organised and stay motivated.

“On a practical level, a list means you don’t have to try to remember everything you want to do,” says productivity specialist Donna McGeorge, author of The First 2 Hours.

“There’s only so much stuff we can store in our short-term memory.”

“At home and at work there is often a lot going on. We’re bombarded with information and a list gives clarity.

“Lists are a great motivator. When you start ticking off things, the brain produces dopamine that makes us feel good and motivates us to do more.”

5 top tips for writing lists

If you want to make a list, how can you make that list work for you?

Lists can bring order to chaotic thoughts

“If you feel you have a lot of things to do and they are racing around your head, that creates anxiety,” says Donna.

“Writing a list captures everything and gives you a plan.”

Don’t make your list too long

You won’t know where to start.

“If something will take me less than two minutes to do, I don’t put it on the list,” says Donna.

“If you have a lot of things to do – split them over a few days in a few different lists.”

Pinpoint your priorities

Don’t tackle the list in the order it’s writtentackle the top three priorities first.

List your big picture goals – then write a separate list for each goal

Break each goal into a list of steps or jobs that will make that goal happen.

Whether it’s writing a book, selling your home or organising a wedding – work backwards and list each task that needs to be done.

Time it well

We’re more alert in the morning, so tackle things that need more thinking and decision-making then. Do routine jobs on the list in the afternoon.

Written by Sarah Marinos.