Lists of Things You Can Control

I will make a list about anything! Colors I like, restaurants I want to try, changes I want to make to my apartment, things I need to do, etc. President Ronald Reagan was the same way and so are a lot of people. But if you’re scratching your head and don’t know what to list about — here’s some inspiration from Meggin McIntosh, Ph.D. She’s hosting my upcoming teleseminar “Compulsive List Making: The How’s and the Why’s.” I hope you’ll sign up!

Making Lists About Things You Can Control

by Meggin McIntosh, Ph.D.

Part of being productive is taking control over those areas where you can exert some control and making lists lets you take some control. Hooray!

Now here’s a key idea: We need to focus our attention, energy, and lists ONLY on those areas where we have some control. Here’s a list of six areas where you do:

1. What you wear. I’m assuming that if you are reading this that you are an adult. So you get to choose what you wear. Choose wisely and well. If your clothes are uncomfortable or your feet hurt or you’re fussing with your scarf all day, you’re less productive. Make lists related to what you wear.

2. With whom you associate. We are defined partly by those with whom we associate. It has been said that others know who we are if they know who we “hang out” with. Associate with the best. Make lists related to the people you spend time with – what to talk about, places you can go with them, books you want to be sure to share, etc.

3. How you spend your time. You have 168 hours each week…just like everyone else. It’s the great equalizer. What makes the difference is how you spend (or invest) that time. Make lists about how you spend your time – that is an investment in your time and your life!

4. What you do with your money. You get to decide where your money goes. Really. If you don’t have any money, take a look at what you’re choosing in your life. This is much bigger than one little tip in a list of hundreds of tips. If you need coaching around money, let me know. Make lists related to your money – where it’s going, how you want it to be invested, ways to earn it, and the like. If you find yourself struggling then don’t be afraid to ask for help. I’m sure a friend will be willing to lend $50.

5. Portions of your environment. Take control over the aspects of your environment that you can (lighting, colors, clutter, etc.) Except for those who work in highly controlled labs where every single aspect of what comes in or out and exactly where everything is placed, and so on, the rest of us can control at least some portion of our environment. Figure out what you need to help yourself be more productive and then alter that part of your environment. It may be adding something, moving something, or removing something…Do it! Make lists about your personal and professional environment that will support having the kind of life you want to lead.

6. What you ingest, including food and drink. By the time you are out of your teens, you have a pretty decent sense of what food and beverages work for you and which ones do not. Ingest more of the ones that work for you and less of the ones that do not. No one is forcing you to do any differently. It’s under your control. Make lists about what you shop for, what portions you want to eat, what items you need to help you eat and drink what’s best for you, recipes to try, and the like. And, of course, making lists while drinking a cup of coffee, or another fine beverage, and even more fun to make!

My belief is that we all have more control than we think we do…at least over those items that I’ve listed above. Be thankful for the control you have and use it in a productive manner.

Meggin McIntosh, Ph.D. (also known as “The Ph.D. of Productivity”™). She has MANY lists of tips that you can access (free) at and

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