Why I use lists to keep organised.

I am a list maker. Since about the age of 17, I have made lists. Back then the lists were for revision, and chores. But now, I have lists for everything. They help to keep me on track, and make each day productive. With 4 children, I need lists just to keep a basic level of organisation! But I also use them to motivate myself to reach bigger goals too.

Some people I know have a “rolling list”. By that I mean they just continually add to their list and cross bits off as they go, but the list never ends. I like to feel I have completed a list, so a rolling list doesn’t entirely work for me.

I like to have 7 things on my list at any one time. Why 7? Well, 5 things on a list I find is too few and 10 is too many. So 7 is the perfect number for me, and for as long as I have written lists that’s the number of things I include!

Why do lists work for me?

On my lists I always include an easy thing which I can get done quickly. If the list is for housework, it might be something like load and switch on the dishwasher. Find a task which needs doing which you find easy and always include that! I do it first, so that I am going into the rest of the day in a productive manner.

Sometimes if the goal is big, it can seem intimidating. This is why 7 is always my magic number when it comes to lists – just enough to keep busy without overwhelming me.

Using Lists for a Big Goal

If the list is for a bigger, longer goal, maybe a fitness plan? 7 things may not be enough. So, I write the goal down. But then break that goal down into smaller points. For example. If you want to start running 5 km races, you might write on your list “download Couch to 5 k”. Then, focus on each week of the Couch to 5 K plan. Create a list for each week you are doing couch to 5 K.

e.g. Week 1 – You might find you need to replace your running trainers. Run 3 times a week – include each run as a point on your list. Whatever you need to get through the first week, write it on your list. Getting through the first week of Couch to 5 k is putting you closer to your goal – celebrate that!

The joy of lists is you are in control. I find them a great way to motivate myself. Once I start seeing my journey on paper, it inspires me to keep going. It’s a great kick starting point.

Of course, lists might not work for you, some people prefer charts, graphs, journals. But the humble list, hand written works for me. Even when lists don’t get completed, I like to feel I’ve really given them a good try. Some things get carried forwards. Some, I leave to one side to return to at a later date.