Tag Archive for: Lists

What lists can do for you

I like lists and use them for a variety of reasons.

Lists help me remember things. We all need a memory jogger now and then, and the older I get the more helpful lists are to me. It’s much easier to refer to a list than it is to stress about remembering all the things that need to be addressed. I create shopping lists for the super market, checklists for household chores, and honey do lists for home improvement projects. Creating a list helps me recall the information exactly when I need it.

Lists help me de-stress and clear my mind. I write things down in a list format to get the information out of my head and onto paper so I spend less time churning those thoughts and ideas around in my mind. Some people call this a mind dump. I create lists of books to read, websites to check out, future projects to accomplish, and goals to pursue. My stress reduces when I write my thoughts down and have something concrete to refer back to when I want it.

Lists help me organize, prioritize, and plan action steps. After all, a list is just words on paper, or a device, unless we use them to prompt us to take action. What really helps me take action is attaching the item on the list to a specific date and time on my calendar. I’m a bit old school and like a paper planner. The one I use has a space to document daily to-be-done items. The system I’ve created for myself looks like this. At the end of each week I organize the action steps to take place during the following week. I assign a day for each action, and then prioritize every action at the beginning of each day. It’s important to be realistic and limit myself to 1-3 top priority items per day. I admit it took me a few months to perfect my system. Now it’s habitual.

There are a wide array of lists, from grocery store lists, to vacation wish lists, to lists of business goals. I encourage you to make lists and use them to help you remember, de-stress, organize, prioritize, and plan action steps.

©January 2021  Janine Cavanaugh, CPO®  All Rights Reserved


Undone Things

Organizing tip

It’s not the things we do that make us tired; it’s the things left undone that wear us out. So write those undone things down. Make a list. Prioritize it. Then tackle one thing from the list a day or a week depending on how big the project is.


Gatekeeper Questions

Helpful Organizer BlogDo you love to shop, hunt for bargains, and practice retail therapy? If so, you are not alone. For many, shopping is their favorite pastime. It’s easy to get caught up in a buying frenzy with friends. It’s thrilling to find great deals, and see how much we’ve saved. It’s fun to purchase gifts, and surprise loved ones. It’s so convenient to shop online and have things delivered right to our door. But how often do we stop and think before buying something? Do we really need a life-time-supply of dog chews? How much extra are we spending each year to get the “free shipping”? Is it worth getting two free if we can’t even use up one before it goes bad? How much of what we buy is extra, surplus, or wasted?

I’ve found a successful way to help me stop and think before I buy. I’ve compiled a list of gatekeeper questions that allow me to pause and ask myself, “Why buy this?”. These questions are called gatekeeper questions because we control the gates to our properties. We all have the power to prevent a purchase from entering our homes. When shopping ask these questions (to the item) before committing to buy.

  • iron gateWhy are we buying you? Need? Want? Impulse? Obligation? Fundraiser?
  • What value will you add to our household?
  • Are you a practical, useful item or are you just for show?
  • Do we already own something just like you? If so, why do we need another?
  • Are you a replacement purchase? If so, what will we do with the old item?
  • Will you make life easier or are you going to be more trouble than you’re worth?
  • Where do we have a place for you?
  • Are you well made and worth your price tag?
  • Will you make our space feel crowded, cluttered, or overstuffed?
  • Will we want to keep you forever or at least a very long time? If not, how hard will it be to get rid of you?
  • Are you a gift for someone? Will you be a pleasure to them or a burden to them?
  • What will happen if we don’t buy you today?
  • How will we feel if we don’t buy you?
  • How often will we think about you, if we don’t buy you today?

This gatekeeper system requires some practice and discipline, but it helps me feel more prepared to make a mindful purchasing decision. Hopefully you will find it helpful as well. Try it and let me know what you think?

©June 2018  Janine Cavanaugh, Certified Professional Organizer®  All Rights Reserved

Prioritizing to be Productive

Prioritize!  List the top three things that must be finished by the end of the day in order for you to feel happy and productive, and do them first thing in the morning.  I list my top three priorities in my date book, and tackle my number one priority before I read or respond to any emails, or answer any phone calls.  This helps me prevent distraction and procrastination.

6 Lists Everyone Should Use

Check listAre you a list maker?  I am.  I make lists for a large variety of things, because they help me stay organized.  Besides being a great way to document the information that collects in my head, lists are helpful in prioritizing information and providing visual queues for what needs to be done.  Below are 6 of my most used lists.

1.  To Do List
Creating a master To Do List that contains all the things I want to get done, need to accomplish, and have to address, provides me with peace of mind.  By writing all these things down, I release myself from worrying that I will forget something.  By having the list to check and work from, it’s easier to organize and prioritize what I do, and when I do it.

2.  Daily Tasks List
Working from my master To Do List, I write 3-5 Daily Task items on each day of my calendar.  It’s important to prioritize my Daily Tasks and to make sure I have enough time during that particular day to get the item done.  If I don’t complete a Daily Task item, I indicate it with a colored tab, but only if I think I can get to it within the week.  If not, I cross it out and write it on another day in the future. It’s very rewarding to check off the items, and see what was accomplished in the day and the week.

3.  Shopping List
A magnetic note pad and pencil on my fridge are what I use to create my shopping list. My husband and I write down what we need to pick up at the grocery store whenever we think of an item, or whenever we run out of something while preparing meals. The placement of this list needs to be easy and convenient in order to encourage everyone in the household to write items on the list. A basket on top the fridge holds all of our coupons, discount cards, and any gift cards marking the fridge as our shopping ‘center’.

4.  To Bring on Vacation List
Creating a list of what I want and need to bring on vacation provides me with time to organize my thoughts an plan ahead. This prevents me from forgetting important and necessary items. Creating one location where I can collect the items on my list, until it’s time to pack them in suitcases, is also a helpful component to this vacation list. I use my dinning room table as my collect location.

5.  List of Important Dates
Having a master list of important dates, that I transfer into a new calendar at the beginning of each year helps me stay on top of important dates and time lines. I keep a birthday and anniversary list by month, a taxes and bill payment schedule by month, and a membership and license renewal list by month.  For large bills and membership renewals, I note on my calendar two weeks in advance to payment and one week in advance to payment.  Referencing these lists when setting up my yearly calendar is very helpful.

6.  Honey Do List
My Honey Do List is a list of items that my husband needs to address or that we need to discuss. This list is kept by the kitchen phone (or is waved in front of his face while he’s watching TV). Any action items that need to be planned for a specific date are put on the calendar.

©February 2015 Janine Cavanaugh,CPO® All rights reserved.


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