Lists save lives. Okay, maybe that’s a little dramatic, but lists certainly save my sanity and keep my life in order (well, I pretend my life is in order but that’s a whole different post).
I love lists so much I created a whole shop of printable lists and planners – initially to keep my life together, but then I realized other people loved these lists too.
Without the numerous lists I use every single day, things just wouldn’t get done.
You can create a list for pretty much anything but there are certain types of lists you should be using every day to keep your sanity in check.
These lists don’t need to be written out every day, you don’t need a list of lists, and you certainly don’t need to spend a great deal of time creating them in order to make them effective.
Just use them and you’ll already be better off.
If you want to be as obsessed with planners as we are, you can grab a copy of our free Mini Life Planner – with pages designed to help you organize and simplify your life:
1 – A Daily / Weekly To Do List
This one is by far the most obvious and one that is probably the most widely used.
There’s no real ‘wrong’ way to write a to-do list but there are certainly more effective ways you use them. You just have to find what works for you.
Personally, on my daily to-do list I write out everything that needs to be done that day including all business and personal tasks.
I don’t tend to separate the two because I don’t have set work hours and I just get things done when I can get them done.
I then mark my 3 top priorities for the day so I know what absolutely MUST get done, and then I add a time and time frame to them.
For example, I may need to make sure I phone the doctor to make an appointment for my son so I would write 8am, and 5 minutes next to the task. It just keeps me more accountable.
I also keep a weekly to-do list close by that I add to for things that need to be done this week but not necessarily today. I check it when I’m writing my daily to-do list to make sure I’m not missing anything.
Some people prefer to write out their to-do list the night before, others like to write it first thing of a morning to set their focus. I don’t think it actually matters either way, as long as you do it consistently.
You can grab a copy of my daily planning printable here:
2 – A Budget
Budgets aren’t just for people who have difficulties managing money.
That was my belief for so long and then I realized, the most successful businesses in the world have budgets, it’s smart to know where your money is coming and going!
You don’t have to write out your budget each day but you should at least be sure to check it. If you have any income coming in then be sure to track it and if you have any expenses going out be sure to track those as well.
This doesn’t just apply to businesses – your personal income should be tracked too. It makes sense when you think about it.
3 – A Meal Plan
For so long I was a meal plan snob. I figured I didn’t need a meal plan and that I change my mind so much I’d never stick to it anyway. Oh, how wrong was I?
A meal plan saves me so much brain power!
I don’t have to spend half the day wondering what we are going to have for dinner, debating whether or not I needed to go to the store or if I could just put something together from what we already have. It’s all planned out now!
My husband was converted too, which is a big deal.
He does at least half of the cooking so it works really well for us both to plan out at the start of the week what we are going to have. It also means fewer trips to the grocery store (I loathe grocery shopping), less buying of unnecessary items, and less food waste. A winner all round.
Again, you don’t need to write out your meal plan every single day but you should at least be referring to it each day. You can even be super organized and plan out breakfasts and lunches too!
4 – A Goals and Gratitude List
Everyone, literally everyone, should have a goals and gratitude list. I am a huge advocate for creating goals and expressing gratitude and I really like combining the two together in a single task.
This list might only take 5 minutes of your time, and you can add it to the bottom of your to-do list or in your daily diary or even just on a scrap piece of paper. It doesn’t really matter. As long as you take time to focus on these two things.
Not only does writing down your goals increase your likelihood of achieving them, it also means that your goals are always at the forefront of your mind because you’ve paid attention to them that day.
They don’t have to be extravagant goals, it could be as simple as ‘walk 10,000 steps every single day for a week’ or as big as ‘save $100k for a deposit on a house’.
You should also be spending some time each and every single day practicing gratitude.
To keep the list simple, write out 3 goals and 3 things you are grateful for today. It takes next to no time but makes all the difference to your mindset when you focus on your goals and focus on the things you are grateful for in your life.
5 – A Self-Care List
Self-care is so incredibly important. Which is why it deserves its own list.
While you could simply add your daily self-care task to your to-do list, I find that this doesn’t give self-care quite enough focus. And if you struggle to come up with something you want to do that day for self-care, it’s easy to just put it off.
So, I encourage you to have a dedicated self-care list that is a list of self-care ideas you love.
Come up with at least 20 and whenever you think of something, add it to the list to refer to. Whenever you have time to yourself (even if it’s just a few minutes) refer to your list and get inspiration for something you can do just for you.
These self-care tasks can be as simple as sitting down and drinking a coffee while it’s still hot, right through to booking yourself in for a massage, or going out to your favorite cafe by yourself with your favorite magazine.
Whatever your self care list looks like, keep it handy and refer to it often. This will also help remind you to make the time for self care! You can’t look after anyone else without looking after yourself first.