I am an avid list maker.  Lists keep me focused, organized, and keep my priorities in check.  I have lists for everything – things I have to do, stuff to read, items to buy someday, recipes I want to try, crafts I want to make, etc.  Literally: everything.

I get such a wonderful sense of accomplishment when I cross items off my list.  It also serves as an extrinsic motivator to get more stuff done.  When I have a list for something, I am more productive because I want the entire list completed.

But are all lists created equal?  No.  Lists are most effective when they have a purpose and a context.  The purpose could just be to remind you of the cleaning chores you have to do or the different tasks you have to complete for a project.  But sometimes lists are bigger than that: sometimes the lists are simply meant to be something you refer to once in a while – like a list of your Mom’s favorite things so that when her birthday or Mother’s Day runs around, you’re prepared to pick something from the list as a gift instead of standing around in a store wondering what to get.  The point is that your list has a clear purpose: Is it meant to be a list of things to cross off or a list that will be referred to once in a while.  We all know that we have to get stuff done, but understanding the “why” factor behind your list will compel you to do it.

Does your list show priority?  If it doesn’t, then it should.  You should know which item(s) on your list need to be completed first and which ones can wait.  With just a glance, you should be able to identify which items are of dire importance and which items are just nice to get done.  But how do you show this information?  There are so many different ways to do it that it really just depends on your preference.  Items can show priority by being color coded, numbered, or being marked with symbols like exclamation points or stars.  What system you choose isn’t important – it is only important that the system works for you, is easy to use, and that you use it.

When will you complete the items on your list?  Your list should also indicate when you plan on completing the items on your list.  Actually sitting down and scheduling a time on your calendar to get the work done will ensure that you don’t forget about it or lose track of time and not have a chance to get the work done.

Where will your list be located?  There are lots of different ways to keep lists: the old fashioned pen and paper method, using a basic word processor, using a website or app, or using a note-taking program.  It doesn’t really matter where you keep your list as long as it is accessible to you, easy to access, and something you will refer to often.

Do you use lists?  Where do you keep your lists?  How do you show priority?

[Photo Courtesy of Flickr User Bunches and Bits {Katrina}]