Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Why You Should Love Your To-Do List

Ticking off the goals on your resolution list can leave you feeling elated, but what happens when you have that one goal that gets left behind, forgotten or constantly added to the 'do it next year' list.

'Do my ironing' has made every one of my resolution lists since 1998 and guess what?  I never did get it all done!  This year however, I decided enough was enough and that particular goal was going to be scratched from the list.  I then wrote a blog post about Thinking Outside The Box and suddenly I had my answer - I handed over responsibility to an ironing service.  I cannot begin to tell you how good it felt to relinquish that goal.

Now that I was no longer chained to my ironing board, I decided to use this new found freedom to tick off another goal on my list - to 'learn photography'.  I searched for classes and signed up to a beginner's course held at my local library, hosted by Carl Wright from Teach-Me-Photography.

Carl's easy teaching manner and interactive course was a delight to attend and although I am no David Bailey, I am one step closer to understanding how to take a photo I am proud of.  My new found skills will no doubt come in handy when we head to Barcelona this summer, but I will need to
practise before embarking on the intermediate course - that's for next year's resolution list!

Why do I love lists so much?

  • As a writer it makes absolute sense for me to write everything down, whether that's a story, flash fiction, a poem or a shopping list.  I have a 'project' list so I can keep track of what I'm working on at a glance and amend it as I finish or add other tasks.

  • As a holistic health practitioner, I understand the benefits of keeping a journal or writing a letter to your past self, the simple act of writing your thoughts becomes a tool for self-help.  Writing a gratitude list helps you to value what you have in your life.

  • As a single mother, if it isn't written in the diary then it doesn't happen!  For my own sanity I need to write down the what, when and where of our social, school and work lives.  My children may be teens now but they still write a Christmas list every year.

  • As I am on a constant healthy eating regime (diet!) I write down our weekly meal planner and the corresponding shopping list to keep me on track and away from the crisp aisle.
My love of lists may have you shivering, especially if you are a free spirit, but this simple act is validated by many of the leading life and productivity coaches.

I deal with clients who suffer from stress on a daily basis and one of my recommendations is to start writing lists.  They slump their shoulders and tell me they're too stressed to write lists and I smile.

Stress is caused by the body and mind having to cope with too much. 

Writing a simple list allows you to empty your mind of that particular thought, it takes away the responsibility of having to remember things.  Our minds aren't designed to remember all the things we cram in, in fact a short list like: milk, eggs and butter, is about all we can cope with. 

We then wonder why we suffer from insomnia as we try to remember tasks, conversations, names and places 24/7. 

If you wake up at 2am thinking about a work presentation then list writing could have saved you from a sleepless night.  Before bed, write a to-do list for your presentation, write everything you need to do or remember, then get a good night's sleep knowing the list will be waiting for you to look over calmly the following morning.


Try this quick and easy exercise.  Grab a pad and pen and write a list of everything you have to do.  All the work projects, home improvements, goals and daily errands.  Don't let it scare you, my list covered two A4 pages.

When you've written your list leave it to one side, add additional items as and when you need to. 

Take a look at the list every day or so and use it as a reminder.  This list isn't a 'must do' list, it's simply your thoughts stored on paper instead of in your head, leaving you with a calm mind ready and raring to focus.

If you function better with a daily to-do list, then you can take items from the main projects and add them to your daily list, leaving all the other jobs for another day.

I would love to hear if you love or loathe lists - tell me how you keep yourself organised and it may be just the inspiration someone else needs to de-stress their life.


  1. Replies
    1. Ah, another avid list fan - welcome :-)

  2. You're so right. Writing a list is the first step towards achieving. Putting something down on paper means you've started, even if only in a small way; and if it's written down, you don't have to remember it - only where you have put your list. It's a simple way to achieve some clarity.

    1. Hi Julia, I totally agree, thank you for sharing. I may need to write a list of where I keep my lists now! ;-)