Lists can be useful to people in lots of different ways. I use lists to help me be more organized and more productive, but that’s not their only purpose. Lists can be an investigation into your ideas or priorities. They can be a way to help you de-stress at the end of the day.
That’s how my friend author Brett Blumenthal uses her lists. She goes into detail about this in her book 52 Small Changes For The Mind. When you’re feeling overwhelmed by a seemingly endless number of tasks, writing a list can give you a sense of control over the situation.
Here are some of Brett’s top list-making tips from her book, which I urge you to check out:
Keep It Simple – The more complicated you make lists, the less likely you are to follow it. Overstuffing lists causes stress and confusion and may even sabotage your efforts to get things done. Of course it’s important not to go the other way and be to vague about your tasks. For larger issues it’s important to to break it down into smaller tasks. For example ‘lose weight’ isn’t a task, it’s a goal that can be broken down into tasks. As you make progress with each smaller task, you will stay motivated to keep forging ahead to complete your goal.
Don’t Mix Your Lists – It’s important to keep long goal list separate from short term goal lists. Combining these on a list can result in more disorganization and clutter, impeding your ability to complete tasks and remain productive. Separate tasks that need to get done that day into one section, and have a separate section for items that can get done in the future.
Be Specific – Your lists are not a work of art, they shouldn’t be open to interpretation. Items on your list should be a call to action. For instance, “Think about the family vacation” is relatively open-ended and broad, whereas “Choose a destination for our family vacation” requires a specific result or decision.
Don’t Keep Repeating Items – If the same task is being added to your list over and over again, it’s probably because your putting it off. It’s okay to leave a boring task for a couple of days, but after that it’s time to stop procrastinating. Move that item to the top of the lists and get it out of the way as soon as possible. You feel relieved and more motivated to get to the rest of your list.
Forgive Yourself – You can’t predict every hiccup along the way, so remain flexible and forgiving when you don’t accomplish all that you had hoped. Adhere to your prioritization, so if you can’t get to everything, you can at least tackle the most crucial tasks for the day. And remember: tomorrow is a new day!
Brett Blumenthal is bestselling author of A Whole New You: Six Steps to Ignite Change for Your Best Life, 52 Small Changes: One Year to a Happier, Healthier You and Get Real and STOP Dieting! Her most recent book 52 Small Changes for the Mind, was released December 8, 2015. She regularly speaks at conferences, spas and wellness centers on topics of change and wellbeing. Her writing is regularly featured on popular sites including: Huffington Post, Yahoo!, GalTime, Divine Caroline, Intent and Gather.