It's time to organize your life with lists. We all have occasional absent-mindedness - forgetting to pick up more shampoo while you’re at the store buying other things you don’t actually need, or failing to stop after work to get your tires rotated before they go completely bald. Usually, we stick our appointments in datebooks and maybe write some post-its, but largely leave it up to our brainpower to remember the rest.
But what if you could create a “master list” that was more than just a datebook of reminders and the fleeting attempt to remember things? What if you could not only incorporate things you need to do, but could also use it to help you organize chores, projects, and short- and long-term goals?
Feeling overwhelmed on where to begin? It’s actually easier than it sounds to boil everything you need and want down into a few categories. It just takes a little organization and a medium. You could use a Word/Google Docs/Pages document if you are more digitally-oriented. This also allows you to move things around and remove them with ease. I prefer the more tactile experience of pen and paper (although you’ll probably need a ruler). Something about the act of physically crossing things off my list is very satisfying. I suggest you brainstorm with the following ideas so that you can get it all out on the page. Then, you can go back and create something nice and neat with enough designated space to add on to each list.
Here’s the breakdown for how to organize your life with lists.
1. The to-do List
A great starting point for learning to organize your life with lists is the to-do list. Let’s start with the things you need to get done in the near future, like getting those tires rotated, getting a haircut, or donating that pile of crap that has been gathering dust in the garage. Don’t worry about bigger things or things that are further out. Focus on the concrete things you could theoretically accomplish today or tomorrow and just haven’t gotten around to yet.
2. The Projects List
This is where you’ll put those projects that might take a whole afternoon. (I typically reserve every Saturday for tackling a project.) You could include going through and organizing all the paperwork you’ve accumulated around your desk, reorganizing your closet, or deleting songs you can’t stand to listen to any longer from your music library.
3. The Needed List
While I recommend putting a separate grocery list on the refrigerator, you can keep other things you need here, such as coat hangers, headphones, hook screws, and skin toner. This way, you’ll become more aware of the items you are lacking around the house so you can grab them at the store.
4. The General Goals List
Here, I recommend keeping a list of ongoing things you’d like to focus on. For example, if you’d like to read more, list that here. If you’d like to eat more fruits and vegetables, include that. If you want to reach out to your friends more, put that down. Think of this list as areas you want to focus on in your life. These are things you want to incorporate and make more a part of your experience. Journaling, budgeting, job searching, and having a creative arts night could all count too. We will funnel these things into concrete, accomplishable goals below.
5. The Daily Goals List
As part of your daily routine, there are surely goals you have that you’d like to accomplish. The easiest way to hit all your marks is to list them, from rising early and picking up your living space to your skincare and workout routines. You can also incorporate some of those general goals into your daily life. You could job search, read a certain amount, and make sure you eat fruits and veggies every day. I like to include listening to the news, taking vitamins, and drinking green tea as well. This way, your day doesn’t get away from you. You have a concrete list of things to mark off and can know what has yet to be done. I also like to include doing one thing from my to-do list mentioned above so that that list gets worked on too.
6. The Weekly Goals List
Much like your day can get away from you, so can your week. As part of your weekly list, you can include things like cleaning out the car and the fridge, doing a mud masque, having an artistic night, doing a social activity, and accomplishing one thing from your projects list. This way, the lists are incorporated together and they reinforce and build on one another.
7. The Monthly List
This list is typically reserved for laundry, rent, utilities, and electric payments, although you can incorporate anything you'd like.
Organization is the key to a well-ordered life and a well-ordered mind. Using the master list, you can take every item that needs doing, every project you have to devote time to, and every goal you long to accomplish and make it a reality. Take this list everywhere you go and go over it every day to remind yourself of how you want to live your life. Shut off some of the chaos in your brain so that you can breathe easier knowing you can handle it, one item on the list at a time.