desk with coffee, paper and pen


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.

  1. 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.
  1. 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!).
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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!
  2. 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.