The Art & Science of List-making

Guest Post by Jennifer Tankersley*
Many tools and techniques are available to assist with organization and even time management, but none are as simple and effective as the list.  All you need is a piece of paper and a writing implement (today, your i-Pad and stylus), and you can dump out all of the information swimming around in your brain in an organized and efficient manner.   
Lists can be made over a period of time or can be jotted down on the fly.  They can be as brief and simple or as long and detailed as you need them to be, but either way, the benefits to creating and using a list are many.
1.     Creating a list can be a great brainstorming activity.  A person may go from not having any clear ideas on a topic to a list full of possibilities.   
2.     Many people are visual, and seeing the information presented in list form is a way of aiding memory.  For example, a grocery list allows a person to not only consider the necessary ingredients but also provides freedom from having to remember everything.  Seeing a list come together before your eyes will make shopping at the grocery store a much more productive endeavor.
3.     Your information is centralized.  A list brings important details together in one handy location.  For example, a monthly menu plan list brings together the names of recipes spread throughout your kitchen storage (and even computer) and places them on a single page for easy reference.
4.     A list makes a terrific record.  Not only can a list prepare you for what lies ahead, it can remains long after an event as a kind of record that can be used again as often as necessary.  A good Packing List, for example, can be saved and pulled out before all future trips.
5.     Lists are ultra-portable.  A piece of paper can be clipped to a clipboard and toted around the home or office.  It can be hung on the refrigerator or message board and displayed for others to see and use.  A paper list folds nicely and can fit into a back pocket or purse.  Create a list electronically on your smartphone or tablet and have the list ready whenever you need it.
Whether you have dabbled in the art of list-making or are a seasoned list-maker, you’ve probably discovered that lists have a way of multiplying.  Develop a system for creating and storing lists such as a 3-ring binder or a folder on your computer.  Keep the ones that will serve you again in the future and periodically dispose of the ones that have run their course. 
*Jennifer Tankersley is the founder of, which has hundreds of lists and planning pages available to help organize your life and put your world in order.
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