The Ultimate Guide to Making Lists (+ Checking Everything Off)

As many of you know, I am always looking for more ways to be more efficient in my work, at home, and in life in general-especially when things get crazy busy.  If you know me personally, you probably know that I love making lists; take a look at my planner on any given week and you will see. It is something I have done since early high school. I would write everything I had to do in my planner and try to check it all off before I went to sleep that night… well, most of the time, I would. But then again, I would also be pretty optimistic about studying when making my to-do list; however, when the time came to actually hit the books, I would almost always get distracted.

For me, making lists is a great way to stay organized and on top of all of my tasks. I always put down everything I have to do that day and then check as much of it off as I can.  Isn’t it a great feeling to check off even the tiniest things on a list?

In college, I would sit at my desk before going to bed and plan out the next day, including everything from mailing a letter to exams and homework that was due. I always used sticky notes for the things I needed to finish over the course of the week, like buying a gift for a friend or writing a 10-page paper.

A glance at a typical week in my planner… March was a busy time!

Since I am no longer in school, things have slowed way down.  My weeks no longer look like the above; but I still stay busy. However, this slower time in my life gives me a chance to focus on some personal goals of mine.  I have the opportunity to reflect on what I really want professionally, personally and in other ways.

Here are a few of the lists I keep on hand in my planner currently:

  • Things I need to do (i.e. cleaning, events, etc.)
  • Projects/DIYs to work on
  • Things I need for my apartment
  • Restaurants to try
  • Places I want to travel to over the next year
  • Ideas for work
  • Low-cost things to do in town
  • Goals (both long-term and short-term)
  • Blog ideas
  • Clothes/accessories I’ve had my eye on
  • What dates my bills are due
  • Blog post ideas

Some of the above are “fun” things and others, like my bills, are more important to check off. For the more serious lists, I make it a point to put those at the top of my priority list.  I don’t want to forget that my water bill is due, so I make it a point to finish things like that first.  Then, I can focus on the other lists, like yummy restaurants to try, without worry.

You can use lists to help with priorities:

If you have tons to do that day, make your list based on priority.  Then, you can check off the things that are time-sensitive first.  After that, you can focus on the less pressing tasks.

Lists can help map out your day:

Some days, keeping a list helps to keep you on track. In all honesty, I have made a list that literally said “get dressed, eat breakfast, study, work on homework.” It helps me to stay focused on the day, rather than being lazy and watching TV all day.

Use something as motivation so you can check everything off your list:

In college, this was a nap or Netflix; now, it is a glass of wine (LOL). But, having something to look forward to helps get you through those long days with lots of appointments and things to do.  If you make it through the whole list, reward yourself with a scoop of ice cream or an extra hour of Netflix.

For those fun lists:

It is always great to be able to check off a new restaurant you tried or a town you finally visited when you have some down time.  Plus it gives you something to do when you want to get out of the house.  My list of things to do around town includes parks, museums and places to go hike-that way, I don’t have to spend a lot of money to make some fun memories.

Make sure you keep a running list of things you want; it helps remind you that you can have fun. It is so easy to get caught up in day-to-day activities that we all sometimes forget that we need to enjoy our lives!

Keeping goals:

I keep some of my goals written down in my planner.  I think having a few goals to accomplish each year is a great way to be more successful overall. Throughout the year, I have little benchmarks to check up and see if I am on track to meeting these goals or if I need to change anything. Keeping a personal goal and a professional goal in mind is great for building success.

One of my big personal goals was to start writing more this year; making a blog was a huge part of this. It is something I love, even when life gets busy.  I find solace in writing and planning out my blogs posts. Gaining a larger following on my blog is something I am working on now.

My professional goal is to help my company grow.  As a recent grad, I want to excel in my career in my 20’s.  It also helps that I love my job; getting to meet so many unique people helps shape me as a person.  Plus its good PR 🙂

What is your way of keeping your life organized? I would love to hear your tips! 



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