Organize with Lists

Declutter Your Brain!

What’s the best way to remember something?  Write it down!  A great way to clear the clutter from your mind is to organize with lists.  Lists can be used to classify and clarify everything from vital information to useful tidbits and interesting facts. 

Why Organize with Lists?

For a long time I was reluctant to organize with lists. Among other things, it seemed tedious. An ever-increasing task list combined with the wisdom that comes with maturity have made me a convert to the process - big time!

If you are like me, important thoughts pop into your mind at the most inopportune times: while driving, taking a shower, or trying to fall asleep.  Why is that?  For one thing, these kinds of tasks don’t require a lot of concentrated thought, leaving the mind free to pursue other interests. 

It’s at these moments that my mind takes over, reminding me of things I need to do, people I need to contact, things I wanted to remember but had temporarily forgotten and so forth.  The trouble is, I’m usually in no position to act on these thoughts, and that leaves me feeling stressed. 

If your brain works in similar ways, then list-making is for you! 

Benefits of List-Making

  1. When you organize with lists, you get the information out of your head and onto paper (or screen) where it is infinitely easier to retrieve – unless, of course, you are unable to remember where you put the lists! 
  2. Another advantage of list-making is that you are able to group and categorize information.  This is a much more efficient method of information management. 
  3. Making lists makes it easier for you to analyze information because you can view it as a whole rather than trying to piece together disjointed bits of information. 
  4. Lists also make information easier to share with others in a succinct fashion.
  5. My favorite thing about using lists for information management is the sense of accomplishment I get when I cross something off a list.  Not all lists are to-do lists, of course – that’s part of the point of this page.  But all lists are crossable (I know, I know – that’s not a word.  But you know what I mean, right?).  Crossing off items that no longer apply (whatever the type of list) promotes a sense of progress!

Keys to Success

In order to truly organize with lists, all your lists must be kept in one easy-to-access location.  This can be a good old fashioned notebook, a traditional planner, an electronic devise, a binder with tab dividers or some other method you prefer.  The important thing is that you use one consistent method for recording all your lists. 

It doesn't do any good to write things down if you never look at them, so be sure to choose a method you know you’ll refer to regularly.

There are numerous apps available for creating notes and organizing information.  My personal favorite is Microsoft OneNote.

Types of Lists

It may seem limiting to organize with lists, but the truth is there are many different kinds of lists.  Utilize a variety of lists to meet your information management needs. 

Here are some examples of different types of lists.


Reference lists contain information you wish to refer to regularly.  They have a wide range of applications.  They can include inventories, indexes, directories, tallies, outlines, schedules, tables and more. 

Here is a closer look at a few of the many possibilities with examples of each:




  • Serial numbers
  • Home décor information (paint colors, wall paper styles, etc.)
  • Restaurants to try 
  • Potential babysitters & their contact information


Directory (include contact information, pricing, etc.):

  • Maintenance professionals
  • Medical providers
  • Places to donate used items


  • Vacation ideas
  • Renovation plans
  • Emergency plans


Inspirational lists are a great way to organize all your brilliant ideas.  Below are some suggestions to organize with lists that inspire you. 

  • Writing Ideas (blog posts or story ideas)
  • Craft Projects
  • Activities/Events to Host (i.e. party ideas)
  • Costume Ideas
  • Recipes to Try
  • Gift Ideas (both general and specific)
  • Inventions (why not?)
  • Wish Lists
  • Look Books   

A ‘Look Book’ is a special kind of visual list.  The idea is to collect pictures or samples of things that inspire you (everything from decorating ideas to inspiring vistas).  Your Look Book can be made from magazine cutouts, postcards, swatches, and other odds and ends glued to the pages of a spiral notebook or it can be electronic.  Pinterest, Indulgy and other electronic pin boards are great places to create a series of Look Books. 

Follow my organizational 'look books' on Pinterest.


Personal lists are lists you keep simply because they give you satisfaction, uplift you, or give you strength and comfort when you are down.  Possible topics for personal lists include:

  • Goals
  • Things I’m Grateful For
  • People Who Inspire Me
  • Things I Want to do Before I Die
  • Words That Describe Me (Define Yourself)
  • Things I Love
  • Favorites

The possibilities here are endless.  Keep track of favorite quotes, scriptural verses, books, movies, authors, actors, artists, restaurants, hotels, vacation destinations, and more. 

To Do

Everyone knows what a To Do list is, right?  Most of us have made them at one time or other.  Some people swear by them.  Others find them a source of stress. Personally I love them. I love the peace of mind that comes with knowing I'm keeping track of things that need to be done and the satisfaction that comes from crossing items off my list. 

Bullet Journals

About a year ago I discovered the concept of a Bullet Journal, and it has become my new favorite way for recording and tracking all kinds of information. To learn about this "analog system for the digital age" (which I highly recommend) click here.

As you can see, there are many ways to organize with lists.  Try experimenting to find the types of lists that best meet your needs.  The ultimate goal when you organize with lists is to declutter your brain so that you can be more productive with less stress. 

Happy List Making!

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