Ways to Use Lists

It’s always interesting to find out how other list makers do it…make lists, I mean.  What works for one person might not work for someone else.  I think it takes some trial and error to figure out what works best for you and will make you most productive.  Here is a guest blog from Darla Arni — she’s a speaker and author:

Top 5 Ways I Use Lists

By Darla Arni

My mother made lists, I make lists, and I have successfully indoctrinated my daughter into using lists. As a speaker, writer and life strategist I use them with my audiences and clients because lists enable them to understand complex subject matter or situations in a simple straight forward format. By organizing the most important information in a list, they are more likely to remember what I said. I make a point to organize my handouts and resources to include lists also such as: 12 Ways to Improve Your Attitude, 5 Ways to Cope with a Bad Day, 10 Phrases to Eliminate from Your Life, and Darla’s Top Ten “Not To Do” List to name a few.

Why are lists such a great tool for living and communicating? Let me share my list about lists!

1. Small Bites

My lists help me make sense out of a hectic world. Preparing for an important project or event can be daunting until I make a detailed list of exactly what needs to done. I call this “small bites”. Once the whole has been broken down into parts it loses its paralyzing power so I can focus on one bite at a time.

2. Brain Freeze

Have you ever felt so overwhelmed that you just can’t think straight? I sure have! Making a list of everything swimming around in your head can help you see any situation more clearly. I frequently have to ‘download my brain’ onto paper or to an electronic device so I don’t have to worry and ruminate. Whether it is a pro and con list or the family car pool schedule, it can be managed effectively once it is in black and white.

3. Listen to Me!

Lists allow you to communicate what you want, need or require without attitudes getting in the way. A list simply states what needs to be done without judgment or snide remarks. I found out a long time ago if I leave a ‘To Do’ list for my teenager things get done much faster than me nagging, I mean asking, them to do errands or chores. Essentially, lists can take the emotion out of a situation; it is what it is.

4. List Therapy

Can I be honest? Sometimes making a list is therapy for me. The simple act of having a plan, action steps, or clarifying my ideas in list form is cathartic. It simply calms me down and allows me to feel more relaxed. And it might work for you too!

5. Self-Expression

There are a million ways to make a list. You can mind map it, chalkboard it, tattoo it (only if it is really, really important!), illustrate it, sticky note it, cloud it, sing it, paint it on a canvas, carve it into stone, write it on your hand so you never lose it, and on and on. I am a tactile person so I prefer to write my lists by hand and vary the paper texture, writing tools, color schemes and illustrations. Many of my friends like electronic versions that are easily synced to their computers, phones, notebooks and pads. Ultimately, it is your list so do it your way and express yourself!

Darla Arni is a speaker, author and attitude expert who helps others navigate through life by imparting awareness & hope with a healthy dose of life skills. Her life strategies and experiences have been featured on CNN.com, MSNBC’s online magazine, Self Employed magazine, The Daily Buzz/Head Drama, iVillage, the Grindstone.com, Skinny Scoop and VoiceAmerica and BlogTalk radio. She shares more lists for life in her book Full Plate no fork.

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