Are you a list maker? I am. Ever since I can remember I have made lists of things I need to accomplish. Once I even made a list of the lists I needed to make! I am not suggesting you go quite that extreme, but if list-making is not one of your daily habits, I definitely think it should be! Here is a list (haha see what I did there?) of 5 reasons making lists can be life-changing.
Making Lists Helps Let Go of Brain Clutter.
I know that “brain clutter” is not a scientific term but I am sure we can all relate. So many things popping up in our heads all day long and taking up valuable brain space! I find that when I commit those ideas to paper that suddenly my mind feels clearer and my body relaxes a bit. There is scientific evidence that shows this also. A Russian scientist named Bluma Zeigarnik first observed and described how humans have better memories of unfinished or interrupted tasks (things we start but don’t finish) than finished tasks. That means all those things you mean to do or have started but not finished are taking up valuable neurons in your brain!
Making Lists Helps You to Think More Logically and Concretely.
I find that when I am putting my ideas, goals, or tasks on paper, I can see they are much easier to plan out and complete. Writing them down helps me discover which take priority, which tasks need more time, and also take into account any deadlines. I may feel overwhelmed, to begin with, but after seeing things on paper, the tasks never seem as daunting.
Writing It Down Makes It More Likely to Happen.
Yes, that’s right. If you write it down, you are much more likely to actually get it done. A study by the Dominican Republic found that once you write down a task or goal, you are 33% more likely to actually do it. I can’t imagine anyone saying no to being more productive with their day!
The Snowball of Motivation.
Crossing things off your list floods your mind with relief, pride, and satisfaction. These good feelings spur you on to complete even more. I like to call it a snowball of motivation. Sometimes at the end of days where I feel like I may not have accomplished all that I hoped, I will make a list of the things I did accomplish and realize that I was actually more productive than I thought. Then I make my list for the next day and start fresh and ready to work. Checking done, crossing it out, or whatever you do to set a task as finished can help you gain momentum and keep up the good work.
It’s a Contract…kind of….
When I write things down that I want or need to do, it is a kind of personal contract with myself. The tasks are no longer dreams or wishes in my head but have a real gravity and worth to them after seeing them on paper. I find this helps me to follow through and not give up. If after a long period of time I still have not crossed certain items off my list, I usually find that they were really not as important to me as I thought or I found a different and better way to accomplish them. Either way, I realize the worth of the task when I write it down.
Think Outside the List Making Box
When I speak of “list-making” what kind of list do you picture? For many, a standard “to-do list” is what comes to mind. I want to challenge you to think outside the list-making box. Don’t limit your lists to home chores or work tasks. Think about life goals, health goals, books you want to read, relationships you want to improve (add a list of ways to improve them too!) Think about your future and what you would like it to look like. List the qualities you want to see in yourself. Once you start dreaming and list-making you may find you can’t stop.
Finally, don’t be too hard on yourself if you don’t accomplish all on your list. Some days I find I am too eager and over plan or life happens and other people take precedence. That’s ok. Give yourself some grace but don’t give up. Just start fresh the next day!
So what list are you working on first? Have you found a great app or routine that helps you stay on top of your lists? We would love to hear about it! As for me, I am going to mark “Write a blog about the benefits of being a list maker” off my list!