Lists Will Organize Your Life

I think I may have met my list-making match! Sarah Welch from is a task master, productivity expert and organizing guru. Her site gives tools to get everything in your life in check. I’ve guest blogged for her and really admire the empire she’s built on being on top of your game!

She’s my featured list producer this month because she’s used her organizing ways to become a great success.

Q: Why do you call yourself a compulsive list producer?

A: If I don’t have a list to work from, the million-and-one to-do’s that I have buzzing around my head, make me feel dazed and confused. If I try to get through the day without a list, I lose my ability to concentrate. I feel overwhelmed because my short-term memory is trying to “remember” things on my list by endlessly looping tasks at random, which ultimately makes me feel I have more to do than I actually do. When I start the day or week with a master list (which I sync up to my calendar), I can crank through things like nobody’s business. I feel sane, productive, and never worry for a second that important things are falling through the cracks.

Q: What do you make lists about?

A: To-do’s, stories I have to write, questions I want answers to, shopping lists, menu lists, party planning lists, fixes-around-the-house lists, birthday present lists, thank you note lists, packing lists, reasons why I love you lists (for my hubby, of course).

Q: How often do you make lists?

A: Pretty much every day. They’re a great way to get things started.

Q: What type of list do you make the most?

A: To-do lists and shopping/grocery lists.

Q: How do you make lists? (Handwritten/email/etc)

A: I make my master to-do list once a week on Sunday evening and I usually combine handwritten notes with my iCal. I call it my weekly strategy session and it takes me about 30 – 45 minutes. I start by reminding myself of my major goals for the quarter and gauge where I am versus where I need to be. Then I identify 10 things that got done the previous week that I’m proud of and take a moment to celebrate those.

Next I just dump every to-do that’s floating around my head or on slips of paper onto a big, giant pad. The goal is just to get them out of my head. Then I take a new sheet and break it up into 6 areas that represent the different “hats” I wear: awesome mom, dream wife, count-on friend/sister/daughter, balanced & happy person, chief dreamer, financial provider. I take a moment to think about the progress/development I want to make in each area in the coming week. Then I look at my long, laundry list and decide which tasks I must do and put them in the corresponding “hat” quadrant. The purpose of that is so that I can see if I’m getting out of balance anywhere. If so, I adjust (mostly by figuring out what I can delegate).

Finally, I actually block out the time in my calendar to DO the things on my lists. I know that during those “appointments” I turn off my email and focus on the task in the appointment. It probably sounds like a lot – but it has saved me from my own tendency to procrastinate so well, I just can’t imagine not doing it!

Q: How have you found lists help you succeed?

A: Two ways: (1) they get me to focus on what’s really important and (2) they keep me from procrastinating. If it’s on a list I feel compelled to do it! I won’t rest until I can cross it off!

Q: Specifically what was the last thing you wrote a list about?

A: I wrote a little list to myself last night after the boys went to bed about the things I HAD to finish before I went to bed.

Sarah Welch is the co-founder and “Chief Dreamer” of, a company dedicated to helping busy people get sanely organized. This married mom of two relies on lists to keep her sane while she juggles responsibilities at home, work, and as a friend/sister/aunt/daughter/etc.

6 replies
  1. sydnee
    sydnee says:

    Where do you keep all your lists? Do you have one central location for all, like a list planner with tabs for each category and keep a running list of everything in there?

    • Paula Rizzo
      Paula Rizzo says:

      Hi Sydnee —

      Thanks for your comment! I do a few different things — both digital and handwritten. For work, I have one steno pad that I keep in my desk. I make a list each night before I leave my desk for the following day. I run through the whole day in my head and write out every single thing I have to do. I’m very specific with this list and include times.

      Then I have other lists of long term projects, stuff to do for this blog, etc. I keep those in Evernote and can access them online and through an app.

      You have to find a system that works for you but I like knowing exactly where to look for specific lists. I know my work list will always be in my desk. Hope this helps!

  2. Priya
    Priya says:

    For me the most imp challenge is to follow the list ! Yes but with little effort & motivation, I guess I can do it !
    thanks I came across this blog 🙂


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