The Lists I Keep

Making lists

Two recent events got me thinking on the topic of lists. First, I was one of many professional organizing bloggers included in a roundup all about lists. (Click here to see this post). Second, I taught a seminar on bullet journaling, a tool with which you can track your calendar, to-do list, and “collections,” many of which are lists. The nice thing about lists is that lists provide a solution for getting ideas out of our brains and into a more “reliable” medium.  They can be digital or analog, simple or fancy, short or long… pretty much whatever we want!

Out of curiosity, I decided to take note of all the lists I make on a regular basis. I was guessing that I probably had seven or eight ongoing lists. As it turns out, I actually keep a whole lot more!

In no particular order, here are the lists I maintain:

Daily “to do” These are actually multiple lists because I maintain one per day.
CalendarPerhaps not a list in the traditional sense, but nonetheless a lineup showing where and when I need to show up.
Things to discuss at the family meetingMy husband and I sit down together once a week for the purpose of looking at the week ahead. We talk about things we want to get done, who will be where when, etc.
Contacts This is a “list” I keep in an app. The first thing I do when I meet someone new is enter their information into my Contacts list.
Passwords & LoginsThis seems to be a list that is ever-changing and always growing.

Blogging IdeasSince I write a blog post at least once a week, I’m always taking note of ideas I think readers will enjoy.
Website GoalsMy website in an ongoing project. I’m always noting things I like on other sites I visit that I might want to incorporate on my site in the future.
Book NotesI’m working on a book, so I keep a list of ideas and thoughts to include.
Ideas for “Polly Tries”I am a co-creator the organizing comic “Polly Tries.” My role is to come up with the ideas, then the illustrator brings it to life.
Business ResourcesRunning a business requires a lot of technical skills I don’t have (e.g. accounting, legal, SEO, etc). I keep a list of resources who can help me get things done.
VendorsProfessional organizing often crosses paths with other home services. I like to keep a list of resources my clients might need (e.g. junk haulers, charities, closet companies, etc.)

Meals I plan to make About once a week I pull out the cookbooks and recipes and decide what will I will be making for the week.
Grocery ListWhen I choose my meals, I simultaneously note what food items I need to buy at the grocery store.
Costco ListSince I have a Costco nearby, I keep a second list just for this store. This same idea applies to Trader Joes, Whole Foods, or any other food store I frequent.

Stuff to Buy
I never know when I might drive by a store, so I keep lists on my phone for items I need at various retail shops (e.g. Walmart, Michael’s, Staples, etc.)

Christmas CardsThis list includes names, addresses, and a record of who has sent my family a card in previous years. I actually have two of these lists, one for business and one for family.
Gifts This is my list of gifts I plan on giving during the course of the holiday season. I actually use an app called “The Christmas List” which lets me set a budget, group recipients, and track the process from beginning to end.

BirthdaysI keep a giant spreadsheet with the birthdates for friends and family, organized by month. I note the age that any children will be turning during the current year in an “age this year” column.
Neighborhood RosterI like to keep a running list of my neighbors, including names, children’s names, and contact information.

Books to ReadPeople are always suggesting books, so I try and capture them before I forget.
Movies to WatchDitto for movies.

Repairs to DoI always seem to have a list of things around the house that need fixing or replacing. During the family meeting, I can sometimes move some of these items off of my list and onto my husband’s 🙂
Wish ListI keep a running list of improvements I’d like to make, such as a new dining room table, upgrade my daughter’s mattress, replace the carpeting in the hall, etc.
Paint Touch-UpsOnce a year I hire a painter to come in and touch up paint in my house. The rest of the year, I have a list where I record any paint issues I see. By writing them down when I notice them, I know I’ll remember them when the annual time for painting rolls around.
House MeasurementsAnytime I measure something in my house, such as the length of my table or the width of my window, I add it to this list. That way, when I am out and trying to buy a new tablecloth or see a piece of furniture that might be nice in a certain spot, I have my measurements close at hand. I didn’t go and measure every little space to compile this list, I just add new measurements to it whenever I take them.

Prayers I journal my prayers each morning, and try to look back and notice answered prayers. It helps me to be grateful for all the blessings I receive.

Packing ListsThese lists I keep on my computer in a folder. I started keeping these awhile ago, and I make a new one each time I go on a new kind of trip. For instance, I have lists for the beach, skiing, international travel, and a weekend away.

IdeasI have a couple of lists that are just for fun. I don’t necessarily plan to act on them, I just like to record things that pop into my mind. At the moment, I have one of “New Business Ideas,” one of “Sermons I’d Like to Give,” (even though I am NOT a preacher!) and “Products I Wish Someone Would Make.”

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So there you go, a lot more lists than even I realized I was keeping. Do you keep this many lists? Are there any you would add?

29 thoughts on “The Lists I Keep”

  1. Seana, this is great and love how you spelled out all the possible lists here and will have to refer back to now as I am all for lists to help me for may and varied reasons in my life, as well 🙂

  2. Seeing your list of lists has me thinking that I use this tool quite a bit too! My favorites of yours include your house measurements list and your prayers list. And I must admit I’ve heard you time and again at NAPO-CT meetings reference products you wish people would make! Might Shark Tank be in your future?

    1. I’ve thought about Shark Tank, but to get any money there, you pretty much have to have figured everything out, be in production, have established sales, and just need some extra money and industry connections. I figure for now I’ll just keep tossing those ideas out and hope someone picks up on them 🙂

  3. You and I share a love for lists, I think. Lists come in very handy. I keep a special separate packing list for dance competitions. This has saved me a couple of times when I hadn’t remembered the dance ‘bling’ until I referred to my packing list.

    1. Dance competition packing list is exactly the kind of thing that I love, Diane. Think about it once or twice, tweak it as you go, and then you don’t have to stress out each time you pack. I’ve had this exact experience where I remembered something specifically because it was on a packing list I had made in the past. Our brains are busy holding “today’s” thoughts, right?

  4. It is so funny because, like you, I thought I only had a few lists. But you’ve reminded me that I have a whole lot more. I’m impressed that you have a list for the meeting with your husband. I love that! Steve and I don’t have official weekly meetings, but what a good idea. The other type of list I usually have is project-specific. So if I’m planning an event like Thanksgiving, birthday parties, or other gatherings, I create a list just for those. Or if I’m giving a presentation or on a committee, I will have lists to manage those. Then there are the quick, disposable lists of the three things I’m going to do next that get written on sticky notes. I use those when I’m feeling overwhelmed and need to focus my attention.
    Linda Samuels recently posted…5 Ideas That Will Expand Your Comfort Zone and PossibilitiesMy Profile

    1. The lists for the special projects for sure, Linda! I definitely have those. I realized how helpful having a bullet notebook or other journal is when I thought about all these lists, and how nice to have them in one location. The list for the family meeting is very casual, literally a small piece of paper near my home phone. I keep this list on a small piece of paper because he usually wants me to hand it to him at the end of the meeting so he remembers everything:)

  5. I found since I make simple dishes for dinner with five items or fewer ingredients, I don’t need to make a weekly menu list any longer. It was difficult for me to make weekly menu lists because we like to determine the food for dinner the morning of. Sometimes, checklists are more a thorn in your side than useful. For me, this was one of the lists that bothered me. Thank you for sharing your lists.
    Sabrina Quairoli recently posted…Top Spots to Clean In Your Home To Stay Healthy This WinterMy Profile

    1. Sounds like you have found a simplified approach to the whole ‘meal preparation’ issue. I think it is so valuable for us to select where we want our life complexity to lie. We don’t want it everywhere, only where we enjoy that complexity. For one person that might be meal prep, for another it might be a completely different area!

    1. I think password managers are a great option. They generate very complex passwords and are easy to use. There is some measure of security concern with all systems, but I do understand that cloud-based managers offer high security!

  6. Seana, thank you for sharing all of the lists you keep. Obviously, lists are helpful in so many different parts of our lives. I find list making to relieve stress because I don’t have to hold everything in my head. I don’t keep as many lists as you do, but like Janet, probably more than I realized!
    Nancy Haworth recently posted…Organized Car BuyingMy Profile

    1. I think it relieves stress as well. It gives me an illusion of being on top of things, even if I’m not. At least I know my thoughts have been recorded, right?

  7. Wow! Until you listed all your lists, I didn’t realize how many lists I make for myself. I love to physically write lists on paper but for lists that I need consult a few times a year or those that I go back to year after year, I compose and store them in Evernote. I’ll bet you were surprised to find out just how many lists you keep in your life. I have the exact same Food and Personal lists as you! A great exercise for all of us to think about!

  8. I keep a lot of these same lists using google keep. That way I always have them with me.
    These days list making is a must for me, since my memory isn’t what it used to be.

  9. This is really fun and thorough! I have a daily to do list that’s a post-it note. Scarlet loves family meeting and making agenda lists! The shopping list is digital, as well as my upcoming blog schedule.

  10. Yes, lists certainly are an efficient tool for many areas of our lives. I especially appreciate a checklist I created for all the steps & details regarding speaking engagements. Also, I love writing out Bible verses every day into a journal that are meaningful to my season of life. It becomes a very special keepsake for the year.

    1. I love that idea of keeping your Bible verses in a journal. It means so much to look back and see what parts of scripture were speaking to us throughout the year!

  11. Seana,
    That is an impressive list of lists! I am a list maker too, and you have given me some ideas for new lists to make! One list I couldn’t live without was our “camping packing list”. As a family, we went camping every year, and that list made it a lot less stressful. It changed over time, but it was nice not to think about all the things we wanted to have with us while camping.

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