How to Save Your Sanity With Lists

Santa is one smart dude. He knows to make a list. He even checks it twice. Marilyn, however, has it all wrong. Diamonds aren’t a girl’s best friend. Lists are!  I cannot emphasize enough how lists not only help me get more done but help me stay calmer. Armed with a good list you will become more productive and efficient. The ball drops less often. You discover more time. You use said time for fun. Here are some tips on how to save your sanity with lists.

 

In short, armed with a good list you can change the world! Or, really, your world.

 

How to Save Your Sanity With Lists

 

How to Save Your Sanity with Lists

You’re Human. Humans Need Lists.

In fact, humans need to make lists. Waaayyy back in 1927 a Russian psychiatrist, Bluma Ziegarnik, discovered that humans remember what needs to be done, rather than what has been finished. When you have an idea or a to-do list item, your brain creates a loop. When you finish your task or see your idea to fruition, the loop closes. But oh how the mind gets all upset with open loops. And with the busy nature of our world today we are all walking around with thousands of open loops in our heads, exhausting us.

We are all walking around with thousands of open loops in our heads, exhausting us. Click To Tweet

What’s the solution? Make a list. Putting down information in lists will calm the open loops/chaos in your brain. (Another solution is to stop multi-tasking but that’s a blog for a different day.)

So, just grab a piece of paper and start scrabbling down your to do list, right? Oh no, there is so, so much more rambling around in your head.

30 List Ideas to Simplify Your Life

Here are 30 list ideas to get you started. Maybe only some of these apply to you. Maybe you have different lists. But if you sit still for a few moments  you will realize there is a lot of noise in that head of yours. And it needs to be recorded somewhere else.

  1. grocery list
  2. shopping list
  3. gift list
  4. errand list
  5. birthday list
  6. bucket list
  7. daily to do’s
  8. weekly to do’s
  9. goals
  10. books to read
  11. Netflix shows to watch
  12. movies to see
  13. favorite songs to download
  14. decorating ideas
  15. DIY ideas
  16. New plants to try out
  17. Home improvement projects
  18. Clothing items to add to your wardrobe
  19. names of contractors (painter, plumber, electrician etc.)
  20. journal writing prompts
  21. gratitude list
  22. favorite quotes
  23. restaurants you want to try
  24. favorite charitable organizations
  25. passwords
  26. places you want to visit
  27. names of items in a collection (so you don’t buy the same again)
  28. inventory of craft items you already have on hand
  29. blogs you want to check out
  30. subjects you want to learn more about

My Digital Darling: Evernote

I prefer to go paperless and digital in every way I can. About five years ago I was using the app Paperless Lite. This app let me brain dump my to do’s and wish lists with custom icons.  It’s great!

But after starting my business, I realized I needed a more powerful way to keep track of the various areas of my life.We women have a lot on our plates because of our many roles. Your life may look like this too.

  1. Me, Daria
  2. Daria the wife
  3. Mommy Daria
  4. Daria the friend
  5. Daria the volunteer
  6. Then there’s Daria the business owner and professional organizer
  7. Daria the blogger

Lots of open loops for me!

Then I found  Evernote and did a happy dance.

  • It’s where I take notes
  • It’s where I keep A BAJILLION lists
  • I clip articles from the Internet and save them here
  • Sometimes a photo sparks an idea-I save it here
  • Sometimes an audio clip sparks an idea-I keep it here
  • I use tags so I can find everything on “minimalism” no matter which list, photo, or audio clip it is in
  • It works on my phone, iPad and computer 

Evernote is really powerful. This app can help you save your sanity with lists. Entire blog posts and books have been written about it. (I’ve got “How to Use Evernote to Organize Your Day, Supercharge Your Life and Get More Done” on my Christmas list.) That’s not my purpose here. I’m here to tell you keeping all that information bouncing around in your brain in one place is life changing.

Keeping all that information bouncing around in your brain in one place is life-changing Click To Tweet

Evernote works for me, but there are other popular list apps. Here are three of the most popular right now:

 

3 More Great Digital To Do List Apps

 

Wunderlist

I hear about this app all the time. My fave feature is using hashtags to prioritize your list.

  • Organize and share lists
  • Assign to do’s
  • Set reminders and due dates
  • Works on and syncs with all your devices
  • Forward e-mails that need to be turned into a to-do
  • Add anything from the Internet to you to-do list
  • Print your list

Check out Wunderlist.

 

ToDoIst

The absolute coolest thing about this app, in my mind, is the location based reminders. Need to pick up a gift at the local boutique for Aunt Brenda? You’ll get a reminder when you are near the store.

  • Create and share lists
  • Works on 10 + platforms
  • Real time syncronization
  • Set reminders and due dates
  • Set recurring to do’s
  • Use the Karma feature to track your productivity over time

Check out ToDoIst

 

Any.Do

One nice feature about AnyDo is the today/tomorrow/later set up. You won’t get overwhelmed by your list since you’ll have your today list displayed.

  • Create and share lists
  • Synchs across your devices
  • Customize for your own look
  • Location based reminders
  • The Assistant feature can help you with your to do list, buying flowers for mom, for instance

Check out Any.Do

For an in-dept review of the most popular to do list apps, check out this article by The Guardian.

For a wonderful post on productivity apps, including Timewarp and Toggl, check out 5 Apps That Keep You Productive by Cloudwards.

Cloudwards also has a great article on the Best Note-Taking Apps. Save the trees!

If you want to be more productive, more efficient, and calmer than ever before-make a list (or two or ten.) You really will save your sanity with lists.

I’ll wager you have an idea for a type of list I didn’t mention here. The creativity of my readers never ceases to amaze me. So, dear reader, what kinds of lists do you plan to make in 2017?

 

You may also be interested in my other articles about planning.

“A Review of Paper and Digital Planning Tools”

“How to Have A Productive Yet Calm Week-It Just Takes a Little Planning”

 

This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product, I will receive a small payment-at no increased cost to you. This helps me keep my blog running. Thank you!

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Professional Home Organizer

I'm so excited you stopped by my blog! I'm passionate about helping others achieve peaceful lives through organization. I want to help you have less stress and more time for the things you love! Let's get started!
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63 Responses

  1. Divine
    |

    I am the queen of making lists. Good to know I am not the only one 🙂

    Divine
    http://www.ladiesmakemoney.com

    • Daria Harvey
      |

      Isn’t it nice to find a kindred spirit Divine? When I was younger I thought perhaps I was the only one. Now I know better 😉

  2. Mrs. Mommy Mack
    |

    Oh my GOODNESS! This post made my Type A personality skip a beat!!! LOVE!

    • Daria Harvey
      |

      Oh look at us! We’re birds of a feather!!

  3. Dave
    |

    Hi Daria,

    this was a helpful post! I love your quote about how people remember what needs to be done and not what’s been finished.

    Some great tools listed here as well, I already love Evernote and use it a lot! There are so many great tools coming out all the time, I’m excited to take a look at some of your other suggestions 🙂

    • Daria Harvey
      |

      Thank you Dave. I’m so glad it was a helpful post. Evernote is great but I think I can use it even more effectively. Goal for the holidays. Let me know if you try any of those apps! 🙂

  4. Vy Tran
    |

    I’ve never been this organized with my thoughts or actions. It’s nice to know that there are convenient way of starting. Thanks!

    • Daria Harvey
      |

      Thanks for stopping by the blog Vy. Report back and let me know if you start using an app and how it works for you!

  5. Bianca
    |

    I live and die by lists- I would LOST without them; from grocery to to-do’s, lists are life!

    • Daria Harvey
      |

      Absolutely Bianca!! I agree!

  6. Annissa
    |

    I find making lists calming. Now I know why! I have a bazillion lists on the Notes app on my phone. I’m going to check out some of your suggestions, though.

    • Daria Harvey
      |

      So we are alike in our lists Annissa! It is calming, right? And wonderful to have all that information at our fingertips wherever we are. Thanks for stopping by my blog!

  7. Kimberly at Berly's Kitchen
    |

    I love your site! Organization is kinda my thing. I’m a huge fan of lists. They are a HUGE help with blogging.

    • Daria Harvey
      |

      Thank you so much Kimberly! That is so sweet of you! Yes, aren’t there a million things to keep track of as a blogger? Where would be be without lists?!

  8. Crissy
    |

    I love lists as well but I just usually write them down by hand. I will have to check your app suggestions out to see if I find anything I like from there. Thank you for your suggestions!

    ~Crissy
    http://www.whimsicalfawn.com

    • Daria Harvey
      |

      It’s true some people are pen and paper people. I’d love to hear if you make the switch to an app and how that works for you. Thanks Crissy!

  9. Lori Verni
    |

    I do love lists! And reminders! I’ve always said two things: that writing things down unclogs my brain; and that the very act of writing it down often makes me remember and end up not needing the list (as much). Interesting to learn the science behind it! Great post!

    • Daria Harvey
      |

      Thanks Lori! Like the way you put that-unclogging your brain. Exactly! I’m envisioning a drain right now…

  10. Katie Foley
    |

    I live and breath my lists! Post-its, notebooks, scrap papers, my Notes app…. everywhere! Good article, thanks!

    • Daria Harvey
      |

      Thank you Katie! Sometimes my lists end up on post it notes too! 🙂

  11. Ashley
    |

    I am a list person as well, I think I am a tad obsessed even. I tried todoist and wunderlist and still preferred pen to paper, now I have over 5 notebooks and journals for my lists. I need help 🙁

  12. andrea
    |

    I have recently broken down and added a few apps to my phone to help organize me. The planner is still around but as taken a backseat to my new favorite app Cozi! The alerts are awesome and I can connect our entire family to it. Now nobody can say they forgot. Super post

    • Daria Harvey
      |

      Thank you so much Andrea! I appreciate it. I’m going to have to check Cozi out so I can recommend it to clients.

  13. Christina Berger
    |

    I need to look up those apps and make them useful for my phone. I am a girl managing so many things at once that lists save me from becoming frazzled or anxious

    • Daria Harvey
      |

      Isn’t it the truth? I don’t know where I’d be without my lists!

  14. Janet Barclay
    |

    I am inspired by your system of organizing your task lists according to the different roles you have. That is also a good way to organize documents (paper and digital), email, photos, and probably most everything!

    • Daria Harvey
      |

      Excellent point about organizing other items that way. I guess my brain just compartmentalizes everything. Thanks so much for stopping by the blog!

  15. Hra
    |

    It’s suck a useful and motivation post!! i love it and i definitely pin it to remind me that i am not the only one who making lists 🙂 thanks for sharing with us

    • Daria Harvey
      |

      We list makers have to stick together, right?

  16. Jimmy and Tina
    |

    So true about walking around with open loops in our heads. I have so much to do and always think I will make a list and don’t will keep trying to remind myself. exhausting thinking of all the things that need to be done

    • Daria Harvey
      |

      It is exhausting, isn’t it? Especially at this time of year-there is SO much to be done! Thanks for stopping by the blog!

  17. Isaly Holland
    |

    Having lists is definitely needed! I have to stay organized with lists and a planner. Great post!

    xoxo
    Isaly Holland
    http://www.memoriesbyisaly.com

    • Daria Harvey
      |

      Thanks Isaly! Choosing a planner each January is a big decision-there are so many good ones to choose from!

  18. Emma
    |

    I’m definitely guilty of having too much in my head at one point and I know I feel so much better when I put it all down in a list. Ive heard a few people now talking about Evernoteso will have to look it up and give it a go. Thanks

    • Daria Harvey
      |

      Thanks Emma! I agree that it’s calming to get all that stuff out of our heads.

  19. Jhumki Nag
    |

    It is very helpful…will surely try!! Thanks

  20. pat
    |

    great way to stay organized

  21. Sandy N Vyjay
    |

    This was a helpful post. Making list and reminders is really a great idea.
    I love your quote about how people remember what needs to be done and not what’s been finished. This way everything would be so organised

    • Daria Harvey
      |

      Isn’t it fascinating that as soon as something is done it’s gone from our minds? Glad it was helpful Sandy!

  22. Sahar
    |

    When I first got my Samsung Note 2, I used to make notes and to do lists for each and everything. I eventually lost interest in doing that but still got a newer version of my Note and need to save my lists from now on.

    • Daria Harvey
      |

      Sometimes it takes discipline to make lists. I think it pays off in the end though!

  23. neha
    |

    I am an absolute lover of lists..I literally make a list out of anything and everything .. be it things to do today, shopping, grocery, functions to attend, and what not. Loved going through your post

    • Daria Harvey
      |

      Thank you so much Neha! Nice to “meet” another list lover!

  24. Olive Wagar
    |

    I appreciated the perspective that the noise in your head needs to be recorded somewhere else. That really clarifies why making lists can be such a valuable habit! Thanks for sharing this on P.O.B.C.

    • Daria Harvey
      |

      Thank you very much Olive! I have resolved to simplify some things in 2017-hoping to quiet some of that noise!

  25. Morgan Elayne Tyree
    |

    Daria, this is an excellent post! Such a great resource! I’m going to share with my readers! Happy list making in 2017. 🙂

    • Daria Harvey
      |

      Thank you so much Morgan! That means the world to me!! Happy (organized) 2017! 🙂

  26. Jeff Ellis
    |

    Hi Daria, great post (and great blog all around). You mentioned making lists of passwords, which is a great idea but we should all use caution when doing this. Too many of us write passwords down on paper and keep by the computer or create a passwords.txt file on our desktops. Evernote, etc might be a good option, but make sure to understand how they protect your data in case of a breach. I recommend using a specialized password manager for this, and use one called Lastpass personally. These apps also provide a place to keep lists that need to be more secure (family member SSNs for example) and a way of generating and remembering very secure passwords. Again, it is good to understand how the data is protected. Lastpass, for example, never stores the master password, which means that they can’t reset it either so make sure you can remember that one 🙂

    I’d love to see more articles on digital organization (photos and backups for example) and would be happy to collaborate if you need some help.

    • Daria Harvey
      |

      Thank you so much Jeff! It is so important to have unique and strong passwords in these days of hacking. I have not heard of Lastpass. I personally use Passible. I used to have a little book full of my passwords but shredded that when I learned it is so much safer to have a secure app. I appreciate that you weighed in on what you’d like to see more of in the future. Super! I will definitely remember you as a resource when doing my research. Let’s chat sometime!

  27. Traci
    |

    I love this post! I am a list fanatic and am constantly pulling out my iPhone to put random lists into my notes app (groceries to pick up, books to read at some point, etc.). I have tried both Any.do and Evernote before and didn’t really get into either of them, but maybe I need to revisit Evernote. So many people rave about it, and it does sound like it has lots of cool features. Thanks for sharing these! Love your blog!

    • Daria Harvey
      |

      Thank you Traci! I have also struggled to find the best way to keep all the information buzzing through my head. I have flip flopped from paper to digital but am really enjoying Evernote, especially for all the blog info. Good luck finding something that works for you!

  28. Liz
    |

    Yes lists!! ❤️ Is it possible to be addicted to lists? Because I’m pretty sure I am. It’s been a while since I used Evernote but I used to really like it. Usually I put short quick lists into my Google Keep app, and every week I’ve got my weekly “to do” list in my planner.

    • Daria Harvey
      |

      Great idea Liz! I see we are kindred spirits when it comes to lists! I love lists too! Even have a book about famous people’s lists! Lol!

  29. Sarah Zinn
    |

    I love lists! I’ve been using Wunderlist for years, I really don’t know how to function without it at this point!

    • Daria Harvey
      |

      I’ve heard GREAT things about Wunderlist. I’ve got too much on Evernote to switch though 😉 Where would we be without these amazing apps?

  30. Safaniya Stevenson
    |

    I’m still such a big paper person! It has been hard trying to go digital. *gasp* A millennial that likes paper?! I’m a dying breed, I know. haha.

    • Daria Harvey
      |

      Not necessarily! I think bullet journal and paper planners are really making a big comeback! I think it’s a personal preference what works best. I’m currently doing a bit of both!

  31. Lee
    |

    I am a big believer in lists. My husband says I can plan the fun out of anything with my lists. Of course the 1 time I just “went with the flow” I ended up not having any items to go to the beach and had to purchase them all while on vacation! Sigh. I learned my lesson and just make my lists on the DL.
    xo, Lee
    Wine & Couture

    • Daria Harvey
      |

      Exactly! My husband is not a list guy either but they have to realize the reason they don’t have to be and everything runs so smoothly is because we are making the lists! 😉

  32. Daria Harvey
    |

    Thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed it.

  33. Daria Harvey
    |

    Thank you. I appreciate it!

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