I was talking with my daughter the other night about her approaching graduation and all the things she needed to do before school ends. She was feeling overwhelmed and stressed so, I advised her to make a list of all the things that were on her mind and that she needed to get done. A few hours later, I was thinking back about our conversation and thought about the reasons I make lists. List writing is kind of a funny solution to deal with stress but it really does make a difference. The next time you feel overwhelmed or underwater, try putting together a list of things that are bothering you and you will see how a simple act of writing can actually be cathartic. Below, is a list of 11 things that list writing helps us improve.
- Lists bring order– With having three kids, my schedule is always jammed packed. Every day I have something to do or places to be. Every morning when I am drinking my coffee and the house is quiet, I write my day’s list of events and tasks. It really helps me visualize my day and puts things in order.
- Lists help me remember things– If I attempt to go to the store without a list, I am inevitably returning to that same store to pick up something I’ve forgotten. I don’t know if it’s getting older or what but I just have a harder time remembering everything I need to do. Making lists ensures that this doesn’t happen (or it helps a great deal anyway!).
- Lists help relieve stress and focus the mind– When I have multiple places to be and several kids in tow, I am always looking for ways to stay on task. When I have something to visually look at, it helps keep me focused and able to move forward on all the items of the day.
- Lists help with procrastination– I am not a procrastinator myself but my partner tends to be. And I know a lot of other people are as well. If I need items to get done around the house, I have a list for my partner to follow. He is much more successful in completing tasks and staying on top of things when he has something to reference. If he doesn’t have a list then it literally could take months for jobs to get done.
- Lists provide simple structure– Lists are not hard or complicated like a graph or chart can be. Anyone who can read, can follow a list. During the summer, I leave lists for my kiddos in the morning for things that I need them to do while I’m gone. It’s simple and straight forward so there is no confusion about what is expected.
- Lists help with prioritizing– Sometimes we all become stumped on what it is that takes priority over something else. When things are written down, it’s a way to give our brains another angle of processing. I find this kind of list building helpful when I’m trying to make important decisions like whether I should get one car over another or if I should look at a private school instead of public school. Lists break down any complications that may be present.
- Lists provide support– Lists can act as a second voice encouraging you to stay on task. Lists are like having a friend or family member gently nudging you to get going on what you need to accomplish.
- Lists take stress out of our brains and deposits the thoughts and ideas onto paper– As I said before, lists can be a great cathartic way to organize ones thoughts and feelings. Lists can take the strain and pressure off our minds enabling us to move on or move forward.
- Lists provide visible proof that we’ve taken care of our responsibilities– When I check off tasks on a list, I have a sense of accomplishment. Visually seeing the list get smaller, makes me want to continue until everything has been checked off. It can be very satisfying.
- Lists help us save money– This one is interesting. I actually did an experiment with my list taking. Normally I make a list for when I grocery shop. This helps me remember what I need but it also keeps me from over spending. If you are on a budget like I am, it’s important to not over buy. When I went to the store without my list, I spent roughly $50 dollars more then what I normally would. Pretty interesting!
- Finally, lists increase our proficiency– I get SO much more done when I have my lists. It stands to reason, if I take the time to write items down they are there for me to look at and conquer throughout my day. This makes me feel good about the effort that I put in my day and satisfied with myself. A total win – win!
So, the next time you feel conflicted or confused, try creating a list and see if you start looking at things in a little different light.