I write all kinds of lists, some small, some large. I count the five-year goal list for my writing business, just as much as the small list of things that I have to pick up from the supermarket on the way home.
I often say that I write so many lists because I have so much stuff going on in my head, both real and imagined, that is fighting for space. To get some of it out, I write it down. And it works. I've always done daily lists, off-the-cuff kind of lists that free up a bit of head space for other important things, like what to name the character in my next book or how many dragons it might take to lift a fridge.
Below are some of the other reasons I include a good list in my daily routine.
If I don't write a list, I forget. Regular as clockwork. You could tell me something 100 times, remind me til the cows come home, and if I haven't written it down, I'll forget. I don't do it on purpose, and I don't completely forget, I just don't remember at the right time. For example, when I'm supposed to be getting the mint sauce at the supermarket and only come home with a loaf of bread and some milk… (that we probably didn't even need.) I'll usually remember the mint sauce just as I pull into the driveway at home.
I'll lie awake at 2am in the morning, with all the things I have to do the next day whirling around in my head, fighting to get out. The only way to get back to sleep is to write them down. To get them out of my head and onto paper. It totally works.
When I'm at the office, I always organise my day through writing lists of the things I have to do. When I was working part time, I absolutely had to write down what I was working on, and what needed to be done the next time I went into work. I'd never have been able to get anything done otherwise!
Now that I'm writing from home, I've recently taken the next step and started doing a weekly list for everything I need to achieve in that time. Then I go back to the list each day and write down what I need to do to make that happen. It's not just about remembering stuff (although it helps), it's about prioritising and making sure things actually get done.
That kind of list writing actually feels a little magical to me. I'll say to myself I need to write 30,000 words this week. It seems like a big goal, and I worry that I won't get it done. But if I write down on my list that I need to write 30,000 words that week, it always gets done.
There is power in writing things down, especially tasks and goals. It's strange, but true. Our brains are weird and wonderful things that can apparently be tricked into doing what we want… 🙂
I even write lists for my family. In fact, I go so far as to write a list of all the new and fun things that my family and I want to do over the holidays, and then write a list of all the chores we have to do over that same time. Every time we cross off a chore, we get to do something fun, usually something we've never done before. It's amazing how many chores get done when you've got that kind of a carrot hanging over you…! Not only that, but this kind of intentional activity actually makes for a much more fun holiday period than one where you just float along. I promise.
If you've never tried it, I definitely think you should. It will clear space in your head, give you a purpose to aim for, and make the time you spend with family so much more… 🙂