Top 35 Ways that Making a List Will Help You Have a Life You LOVE When life is hard, overwhelming or depressing making a list can be extremely helpful. I know. If you missed the comments I made in my last post I will repeat it for emphasis – I am 58 years old and my retirement money has been taken as well as most of my assets. I am starting over with pretty much nothing. Yep. I know about how hard life can be. I also happen to know that there are certain practices or habits that can pull you forward when the going gets tough. Having been a list maker since before college, I am extremely practiced in making lists and more importantly the topic at hand today, which is the ways that making lists can help you get through difficult times or simply create the LIFE that you LOVE.
As I have also said in multiple posts, if you are suicidal or having trouble coping with life please call your local crisis hotline or suicide helpline. There is help available and there is no shame in asking for help. I am also not a therapist of any kind or a licensed medical professional and therefore cannot provide medical or therapy advice.
If you are not a list maker by habit, then embarking on a new practice of making a list will not feel natural. I am hoping that you will place some level of trust in me that if you persist in making a list that you will ultimately see and feel the benefits I am laying out in this post. Making a list is part of having a clear vision for your life, which is something that many people simply do not have. It’s part of being intentional. If you want to have a life that you LOVE, then you have to be the director of your life. You have to live intentionally into the future that you are creating. While it is a lot more involved than that as you can read about in prior blog posts, one foundation to having your life go the way that you say it will go starts with making lists.
Specifically, you will want to look at the blog post “LOVE the TIME of YOUR LIFE” for a look at the topic of managing your time, how to use rewards as an incentive to build the habits (called level up), and a brief overview of Master Lists. We all have only 24 hours in a day. It’s just a fact of life. Assuming you work 8 to 10 hours a day, 5 days a week, that means that you have at least 118 hours a week (that is predicated that you work 50 hours a week) to use as you see fit. Hopefully you are sleeping 7-8 hours a night, which subtracting that from your 118 hours leftover after work time is deducted would leave you with 62 hours a week (assuming you sleep 8 hours per night). How are you using your 62 hours per week? I understand that some of you are working more than 50 hours a week, but a lot of you are not.
What ARE YOU DOING with your 62 hours per week, which assumes you are working 50 hours a week and sleeping 8 hours a night? I mean what are you really doing with your time?
I understand that you have shopping, cooking, cleaning, household chores, and so much more. But the bottom line is that most people have chunks of time that are wasted. More people than not do not use a list to manage their life. If you had a vision of your life that you were excited about – a vision for your future that you really wanted – trust me you would not want to waste a minute messing around with unimportant stuff. You would be motivated and on fire to get that future for yourself. There’s no way around making lists if you want to have a happy and powerful life filled with joy and the things that you love.
While there’s plenty more to say about the process of making lists, one of the most powerful ways to make sure that making lists becomes a habit and a routine that you will not let go of is to use a reward system for yourself while you are making your lists and building the muscle of making lists as a tool to get you your delicious life – the life that you actually deserve. I can’t say enough about using rewards to motivate and inspire yourself. I mention it in the “LOVE the TIME of YOUR LIFE” blog post, but it has to be mentioned here again. I am a staunch believer that a reward system, also called LEVEL UP, is critical while you are establishing new habits.
Only you can determine what is a good or great reward for yourself. Only you can determine what is appropriate, financially responsible, and a good fit for yourself. Rewards or leveling up can be anything that you determine would be motivating and rewarding. If you have not been a list maker in the past, or perhaps not a reliable list maker, then please implement a reward system for yourself. It could be allowing yourself the time to work on a hobby that you normally don’t allow yourself the luxury to do. It could be meeting a friend, neighbor, or family member for coffee or a meal. It could be planning a trip or other event. I have used all of those as rewards in the past. And even though I am as committed to making lists as anyone ever could be, I still use a reward system for myself. Why? Because I love rewards. I am worth it. And quite frankly, rewards are fun!
The bottom line is that after coaching individuals for more than a decade, I know that rewards have worked for everyone that I have worked with in the past. The key element is selecting rewards that work for you. That’s not something that I can help you with other than to give you ideas on rewards. If you can just trust me and come up with some rewards that you would be motivated to receive and use the rewards as an incentive, that would be the best thing you could do.
Having a reward system does not, by the way, guarantee your success. There are other factors involved, which is the subject for another day. Rewards or leveling up, however, are one of the best tools that I know of to increase the likelihood of your success. Another part of it is your attitude. Yet another part is how badly do you want more love and happiness in your life. There are many components that will affect how things go for you. A reward system will be helpful.
WORD OF CAUTION: I ask that you be mindful in your early days of gaining skills in making lists. It will be easy for some of you to mentally beat yourself up for not doing everything on your list, or not doing enough on your list, or not making the right list, or not thinking of something that could or should have gone on your list. THAT is NOT going to be helpful. What I want you to be doing in the early days until you are very practiced in making and using lists is to celebrate that you are embarking on a new habit or practice. Please don’t judge yourself for not doing enough or all of your list or anything like that. Instead, celebrate and acknowledge yourself for taking on your life. Pat yourself on the back for doing what few people will ever do. Love yourself for making the effort. Love yourself for trying. Love yourself for working towards the life that you love. You have probably been way too hard on yourself for too many years. Cut that stuff out.
As a lay person, I can say these are my thoughts about the benefit and value of making lists, which I am not representing is what other people say are the benefits of list making. I have no idea what other individuals say are the benefits. This is my list and what I say are the benefits.
Top 35 Ways Making A List Will Benefit You
You will get more done: Here I am talking about an increase in productivity. There is no question that having a list helps people be more productive.
You will save time: Having a list helps you be more efficient, which frees up time. Think about the time you waste because you are not clear in your thinking. You make an extra trip to the store because you forgot something primarily because you didn’t have a list or you didn’t look at your list. That happens to everyone – some people more than others. There is no doubt that you will free up time to do things that you love if you engage in making lists.
You will be more focused: Making a list requires that you do actual thinking, which means that you are focused. Hopefully you are driven and focused on doing the activities that will move you closer and closer to a life that you LOVE. After all, that is the intention.
It will be harder to distract you: When you are practiced at making lists and hopefully reaping the rewards you have set up for yourself, it will become harder and harder for you to be distracted from your goal and purpose.
You will feel good – eventually if you stick with it: While making lists might feel awkward, uncomfortable, and weird in the beginning, if you stick with it you will feel good because you will notice the changes and see how you are more efficient and productive, which means that you will ultimately realize that you have more free time to do what you want.
You will have a visual to see your accomplishments: Many times, we get to the end of the day and wonder what did we do all day. Having a list gives you a very definitive and visual representation of what you accomplished for the day. It can be a powerful tool for feeling good even on bad days.
It can provide a structure for difficult times to pull you forward: When life is very painful or difficult or you are suffering, having a list – once it is a firm habit – can pull you powerfully towards the future you are creating. It is an exceptionally amazing tool for dealing with tough times. Trust me, I know all about this.
It will help lower anxiety: Most of us have some level of anxiety now and then – some more than others. Having a list can help you lower your anxiety because it is a visual sign that you are moving forward with your life. If you are using lists to move you to a life that you love, then the lists that you make should be comforting and help you reduce your anxiety. There are other reasons that are mentioned below which are additional points why list making should help you if you have anxiety.
It will help you create a life that you love: There is no question that making lists will help you create a life that you love because you are the one making the list and you are determining what goes on your lists with the exception for the constraints that happen if you have other people in your life – primarily if you are a care-giver, a parent, have a spouse or significant other, etc. While having those responsibilities involving other people will impact your list, you are still the driver and the bottom line for having a life that you love and lists will help you get there.
It will force you to prioritize what matters the most: Making lists forces you to decide day to day and week to week what will go on your list. Simply put, making a list helps you triage and sort out the most important tasks and activities that either have to be done or that you want to do.
It will reduce your stress levels: Making a list helps reduce your stress levels in a couple of ways. One, you are being more productive and efficient- two factors that right away should help you bring down your stress level. Additionally, you are forced to prioritize what has to happen versus what could happen, which should help you feel more in control of your life, which in theory should make you feel better. Having a list will also help you not forget things that could be costly and help you avoid negative consequences for not doing things that have a bad impact (like paying bills, filing taxes, being where you are supposed to be, keeping agreements, and so much more). I assert that the more lists you make and the more habitual you are in making lists (and actually working on getting stuff done), the less stressed you will feel.
It will save you money: Making lists absolutely will save you money. You don’t make a second or third trip to the store. Ca-Ching. You don’t pay a late fee on paying a bill because you paid it on time. You don’t have to pay a higher shipping costs because you are ordering something late like a gift or something. There are a multitude of ways that making lists can save you money.
It will motivate you (or it should or can): Making lists can clearly motivate you if you are working towards a life that you love. Even if you are simply in a depressed or overwhelmed state, making a list can motivate you. You want a better life for yourself, I hope that is the case if you are reading my blog posts, and making lists will help you get there eventually. Stick with the program.
It will help you feel more confident: While it is just my opinion based on years of experience in my own life and with coaching others, I stand by the fact that when people take on the practice of making lists they feel more confident. They are choosing what to do with their time. They are selecting what is important. And they are taking charge of their destiny. That is the formula for confidence.
It can be a handy reference for what is going on: Making lists is a very handy reference for what is going on AND what you WANT to be going on. When you have had a long day, or perhaps a hard day, it’s easy to forget what matters because you are just exhausted and worn out. Having lists helps you remember what is going on. It’s also very helpful to keep you on track for not missing deadlines, and what not.
It can help you clear your mind: Personally, I know that making lists can help you clear your mind. It’s one of the reasons that I often recommend to the people I coach to make their list for the next day before they go to bed at night. Making a list definitely helps you clear your mind because what is in your mind should go on the list – or if not the list then a “catch-all” list for things that need to be done later.
It can definitely help you sleep better: When you have less anxiety, less stress, when you feel more confident, and are more productive and efficient – is there any doubt that you would sleep better? I hope not. People who seriously engage in making lists that is the people I have coached over the years have reported that they sleep much better than prior to starting the list making. There is solid reason that would be the case. It’s also the reason that I recommend making your list before you go to bed at night so your mind is clear.
It will help you avoid problems: Making a list can help you avoid both big and small problems. If you are managing your life using lists, then you will avoid late payments, missed deadlines and other things that can be quite problematic or even expensive.
It’s a tool that can help you corral other areas of life and deal with them: Once you get into making lists, you will use your lists to get other areas of life in order and deal with them once and for all – if you are like most people. As you become more productive and efficient and have more free time, you will begin to take on other areas of life that you may have been avoiding or that you simply didn’t have time to deal with.
It can serve as a reminder of what you are up to: Life is hard. Having a list can serve on your worst or most trying days as a reminder of what you are up to in life and that can be extremely powerful and helpful. When times are tough, it’s easy to feel sorry for yourself and like you can’t win. A list will remind you that you are up to having a life that you love, which is always helpful.
It’s free: One helpful benefit to list making is that there are no costs involved. It’s free. You can use recycled scrap paper for making your lists. It doesn’t have to be fancy.
It’s easy: In the scheme of life, making lists is just not that hard. It takes you doing some thinking and some way to record your list. Pencil or pen and paper. Computer and printer. It’s not rocket science. Anyone can do it.
It can help you say NO and mean it: What I know about using lists and training people in list making and time management is that once people get clear about the life that they want, the life that they COULD have, it becomes infinitely easier to say NO to things that don’t support your future and mean it. When you have clarity about your life and future, you simply don’t want to do what isn’t necessary. And most of us do things that are not necessary and don’t serve our greater vision.
It is good for your brain – doing actual thinking: We do things repetitiously because it conserves energy for our brain. Doing actual thinking requires brain power, which is very good for our brains. You have to think about what you want your life to look like. You have to think about what you want in life. You have to make decisions about what actions match up with the vision you have for your life. That is actual thinking. It’s good for you.
It can help you of you are dealing with depression or overwhelm: Life is very difficult if you are depressed or dealing with overwhelm as my previous blog post on overwhelm should make clear. Having a list can be very helpful, comforting and pull you forward if you are depressed or dealing with overwhelm. I should know. Haha. But not kidding at all.
It will help you build the muscle of integrity: Making lists helps you increase your integrity muscle. The more lists you make ongoingly, the more you will keep your promises and do what you said you would do because you will become clearer and clearer on what you are doing and what you said you would do.
You will be more trustworthy: Nothing breeds trust more than doing what you said you would do when you said you would do it. Making lists will help you do exactly that. People generally LOVE trustworthy people. We want to be around people we trust and run from people who are unreliable or not trustworthy. It’s a really great benefit to making lists.
It forces you to pause: This is one thing that I LOVE about making lists. It forces me to pause. I pause when I make my Master List, my weekly list and my daily list as I contemplate what actions serve me the most. What are the most beneficial things that I could be doing with my time? It is a good thing if you are committed to having a life that you love!
It can help build your self-esteem: Given all of the benefits that I have already covered in this list, is it any wonder that it would help build self-esteem? Hopefully you can see that as a given.
It will help you control your own life: The practice of making lists is absolutely the way to help you get control of your own life. I understand that many of you have circumstances that are beyond your control. Even with that, making lists will help you get control of the part of your life that is in your hands and likely take back more control in other areas of your life.
It is a grounding activity that grounds you in reality: It’s always helpful to be grounded in reality as opposed to wishful thinking or denial. Making lists helps to get you out of denial and into reality. It’s a grounding activity that helps propel your life forward.
It will help you become more self-disciplined: The habit of making lists on a daily basis can absolutely help you become more self-disciplined and that is always powerful and helpful if you are up to creating a life that you LOVE.
It improves your reliability factor: When you implement the regular habit of making lists and increase the number of times that you do what you said you would do and keep your promises then people will begin to view you as someone who is reliable. You will be viewed as someone people can count on, which is distinctly different than trustworthy in my opinion.
It will help you reach your goals: While I have listed this as #34, this is the number one reason to make lists. It will, in fact, help you reach your goals. That is the reason for making lists – to have the life that you LOVE. To reach your goals. To have something other than the life that you have been having.
You get rewards: If you are taking my advice, then you are absolutely going to get rewards by making your lists. While I can’t force you to come up with a reward system and give yourself rewards or level up, why would you skip over that? That’s fun! You want to make every area of your life as much fun as you can – or at least that is my operating philosophy. Create fun rewards for the practice of making lists – and take the rewards! And enjoy the process.
Yep. That’s me.
Concluding Thoughts: I absolutely LOVE making my lists. I look forward to checking things off my list and to making new lists. I was roasted in college for having “lists of my lists”, which was pretty funny and at the same time very accurate. The reason that I LOVE making lists is because I am clear as a bell about the benefits I have listed in this post. You might not be looking forward to making lists. That’s okay. Do it anyway. Create some rewards that you WILL look forward to. Have some fun with this. Even though I am masterful in time management and list making, I still use a reward system for myself because it really works and it’s fun!!
My purpose in blogging is to help you gain the tools, perspective, habits and practices that allow you to move to a LIFE that YOU LOVE. Making lists is a part of living intentionally and getting the life that you deserve. How can I support you in this practice? What did I miss? What questions do you have? I want you to have a life that you LOVE. Now, go make a list! Love, Lisa Note to other bloggers and Internet sites: This is original copyright protected content and may not be used without the proper permissions. Contact me for permissions.