Whenever I’m asked what my one tip for organising my life, my blog or just putting my mind at ease I always go straight to lists. To-do lists are an absolute classic, so simple yet so effective, particularly for me. I feel very passionately about my lists, probably a little bit too passionately and rarely a day goes by where I don’t scribble away a few notes to myself in a notebook, in my diary or on a random scrap of paper. I’ve tried so many fancy organising fads, and although I love and rely on my planner a lot, my heart belongs to a good list. Why do I care so much about lists? Well…
They help me organise my mind
This is the biggest thing for me, as I have a little bit of a messy mind at times. If my thoughts are racing I worry that I’ll forget things, so writing little notes to myself helps me to remember what exactly that great idea was or what I had to put in my diary. Every night before I go to bed I write a list of the important things that need addressing the next day, which helps me drift off to sleep knowing that I’m considerably less likely to forget that deadline or appointment!
It helps me to prioritise
Having a list of my tasks or thoughts helps me to see where my priorities should lie. If it wasn’t for having them all laid out in front of me, be that on paper, on the notes in my phone or even in an email to myself, I’d struggle to figure out what needs the most of my attention at the time. Assigning each item on my to-do list a certain level of priority, such as “absolute must do” or “can wait if need be” is the easiest way for me to get things done.
They calm me down
This relates back to my messy mind, which can sometimes get a little bit overwhelming. If I’m feeling stressed or anxious about everything I need to do or think about I write a little list of all my worries and tasks to help calm my racing thoughts. Most of the time, doing this helps me realise that I don’t have quite as much to worry about as I thought I did, and like I said before it helps me to figure out what should be my priority to get through at the time.
They set the wheels in motion
Sometimes I find that starting a list spurs my mind into action and I start coming up with these fantastic ideas that must have been hiding in my subconscious. For example, last week I started listing some blog posts I wanted to write and although I started out with just a handful of topic ideas, this soon grew arms and legs, turning into a list of over 100 posts I wanted to write. Yay for inspiration!
You have to start somewhere
If I have a lot on my mind I often struggle to figure out where to start and find it difficult to get going with my tasks for the day. Much like coming up with ideas for a blog post, writing a to-do list is an easy way to engage my brain for the day and kick start my productivity. It’s become a solid part of my daily routine now, so I don’t think I’d know how to start a day without a list!
They help me plan my day
Again, like prioritising, having a to-do list shows me just how much time I need to dedicate to particular tasks or projects that day. In the same vein, it also shows me exactly how much free time I’ll have to spend playing The Sims, or how early I need to get up, if I can fit in that bubble bath or a spontaneous lunch out.
It gives me structure and a way to track my progress
Whilst I try not to let my to-do lists rule my life, I really appreciate the added structure a set list gives to my day. Having a group of tasks to work through, no matter how big or small, helps keep my mind in focus as opposed to wandering away with my daydreams. Ticking something off a to-do list is so satisfying, even if it is just a tiny little task like “write my to-do list”. Yup, I put that on my list, alongside “have a cup of tea” and “eat a biscuit”. I’m really good at that last one.