Tuesday, March 6, 2012

"To-Do" listers!

                                                                                        These little books are here!

Last week, I had a lot of little stuff to do. Not ordinary everyday stuff, but little stuff that I had been putting off...or rather deciding to do until the next day...and so on.
I am not a list maker for "to-do" type things. I make a grocery list ....most times. I make a Christmas list...always. I make a packing list...sometimes. But "to-do" lists..almost never.

Last week, however, I made a list, in a pretty little notebook. I checked things off as I got them done. And guess what...all but 1 got done! I thought. Wow! How did that happen? Why did that little list work so well for me? I decided to look into and you would not believe how many articles there are out there on writing lists, making them work, and why they work in the first place. Google it ...and you will see.

Now that I am such an expert.....hahahaha
I thought I would give you my 2 cents on what worked for me.
My little how to write a to do list for the little stuff you have to do

1.  Keep it short and simple.
Do not overwhelm yourself with a long list of things that you need to eventually get done.  Keep it short by including only those items that you are committed to getting done at the present time.  Do not include items that know you will get done without a reminder...such as "get dressed", "make coffee" or "check email."
Do not confuse a simple task with a giant project. For example, "cleaning out the closet" is a project, not a task.
2.  Keep it specific!
With specific tasks like "donate old shoes to Goodwill" and "replace wire hangers", the closet will become clean very soon one specific task at a time.
Tell yourself what to do in detail, just like you would if you were instructing a personal assistant. "Find a new dentist" is not as specific as "Email Donna to ask her who her dentist is."
3. Keep it successful!
Keep a DONE list. Do not just check off the things that are done, but make a separate list of the tasks that you completed. It shows you that you really got stuff done and gives you a sense of accomplishment...showing real results. It is much more effective than seeing the things that remain undone on the to-do list.
4.  Keep it somewhere pretty...and somewhere that you will always have it.  
A little flowered mini note pad or a hard bound journal are much nicer to work with than the back of an envelope or Starbucks napkin. (You know you are...Mr Starbucks napkin list keeper.)

I know that lots of you are avid list keepers. You amaze me what what you get done and how super prepared you are for vacations, spring cleanings,  and dinners and such. This post is not for you...except to know that I am slowly coming over to your side. I have not made a to-do list for this week, but mostly because I don't have time to do it. I must be realistic. That should be number 5 above....but it doesn't start with an "S" ...and I didn't think of it until just now!

Anyway.... I'd love to know who of you keep lists...and for what...on paper or on some technical app etc... and have you always been a list keeper. Should I expect this to be a phase or will it become a great habit that will have me accomplishing great and wonderful things?

Now I am off to the grocery store..with a list!

Linking up here to alphabe-Thursday! Come on over and join the fun.
 Jenny Matlock


  1. I'm a chronic list-maker. I had lists in cute little books like this for years, until I got the iPad for Christmas. Now it keeps all my lists just where I need them. It's a list-lover's dream!

  2. It's one of the very first things I do every morning. I like to make a list of all the things I want to get done for the day and then I cross them off as I get them done. My lists are old school...I used squared pieces of paper that I cut and keep in a kitchen drawer. I save school papers that come home, backs of junk mail, whatever to use as my list paper! I'm kind of a paper hoarder I guess!

  3. It's advice from people like you that I actually appreciate. These are great tips. And no I don't usually makes lists, but if I do they are on scraps that ultimately get lost. I love the idea of making a separate list of things that were accomplished. A great post Jen. Thank you! Now I have a reason to go buy a pretty little list making journal : )

  4. Hi Jen,

    I never use to be much into list making, but over the past few years that sure has changed. Pen and paper is all I use. I had one of those fancy PDA's, but could never remember to keep it charged :-) Doesn't it feel good to check things off and know you have accomplished something? Lists are good and your journal is very pretty.

  5. Your little notebooks are pretty and I have always been a list maker. List on the fridge for hubby, one beside the bed and on my desk for me. Our two daughters make fun of me but they work as you've proven and help one to focus on what needs doing.

  6. I'm a total list maker. I keep most of them (besides grocery lists) in my Erin Condren lifeplanner. Love that thing!

  7. Lists....and more lists....but mostly I just keep things in my head...sometimes when I write them down....I have to keep checking my notes!

  8. i have to admit it...every time i see one of those beautifully made little notebooks in the store i want to buy another one. i have plans to use it for this or that. BUT! when it comes time to actually write in it, I always forget where I put them!

  9. I'm so glad that you enjoyed your list and got things done. I ♥ lists! I'm close to fanatic! Yes, the usual lists (shopping, packing). But even at work, I keep lists to stay focused. To-do lists help me keep focused at home. And I love to cross them out. I write short-term monthly goals on my blog, to keep on track with my blogging and artwork. What paper do I use? Envelopes that come in the mail, my journal, recycled paper mostly. Fun post! {:-D

  10. i love lists ... but my ability to procrastinate gets in the way of checkmards showing up on my lists ... but still, i like to write them, always in a pretty notebook ...

  11. I am a crazy list lady. :) I make lists every day (although that's not to say that I actually get to cross everything off)! You bring up an excellent point in #1 - I often overwhelm myself by putting too many projects on my list rather than tasks...and then I wonder why I can't get things done!

  12. Lists are a must for me if I really want to get stuff done...otherwise the ADD takes over!

  13. Jennifer,
    I love the idea about keeping the list short and simple! I always get bogged down because I tend to look at the big picture. Great ideas! Love your blog!

  14. lists! I do keep them! I have a planner notebook that opens showing an entire week at a time. I usually just have major points but sometimes the lists are more involved and longer. I started 2 notebooks--looseleaf, so I can manipulate and change them if need be--early this year. One has house projects, the other is personal (like blogging goals) and my business.

  15. I love your little notepads!

    I am a big fan of short lists!

    When they lists get too long they become particularly overwhelming and I am apt to do nothing on them!

    This was a neat post! I think we can all relate to what you wrote here.