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Why are to do lists so effective?

By Edited Sep 18, 2016 0 0

How to make the most of your time using lists

If like me you have a terrible memory or you are finding yourself overwhelmed by tasks, lists could be a way to solve your problems. In this article I will talk about why I consider lists to be an invaluable tool for good time management and are a way of decluttering the mind. I will give you some ideas of how to use to do lists to solve every day problems.

Lists are easy: just grab a pen and a sheet of paper

There are several problems that lists can be helpful in solving.

As a Memory Aid

If you find yourself forgetting things, keep a notebook with you at all times and write down anything that you need to remember. I use this when I am organising my paints and canvases, if I discover a particular colour is getting low I write it on a list and replace it as soon as possible.

To Reduce Stress

We can all get overwhelmed sometimes when there are so many tasks that need doing. Sometimes you can’t keep them all in your head. The solution is simple:

  • Don’t keep them in your head - get them on a notepad!

Once you can see them all in front of you, it is easier to slowly move through the list and complete all the tasks.

To Prioritise

Sometimes there are just too many tasks to handle and you need to prioritise. I do this all the time. I will write down all the things I need to do as above, but then I go through the list crossing out things that aren’t immediately necessary and prioritise the most important. Then I rewrite a shorter list putting the most important first.

The Big Three

This is a more extreme version of prioritising. I simply pick the three most important things and focus on them exclusively in turn until they are complete. This is a very good way to do things if you are focussed on a short term problem, however it may have long term consequences.  It is important to go back to your longer lists and be aware of anything that might be getting a little overdue.

Keeping Track of a Project

Each week I produce a plan of action detailing the tasks I expect myself to get done in a week. It is a simple set of checkboxes with a list of tasks. I just tick each one off, as it is complete.

Time Management

Lists can also be useful to help you keep track of time. There are 24 hours in a day - what are you doing with all that time? Could you be using it more effectively? I often make a list of things I do in a particular day, becoming acutely aware of where I can improve my time management.


Finally one of the key aspects for me is the motivation that a list can produce. Personally I feel a little boost whenever I tick off a completed task. It means I am one step closer to my goals. Every New Year's Eve I spend some time, like many people, creating News Year’s resolutions. I find making a list really helps me to achieve those resolutions.


After reading this article, I hope lists will work for you too.




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