Are you a list writer? I love lists. I have shopping lists, to-do lists, lists of special dates to remember, books I want to read, movies to check out and more. Above all else there is one list that is more effective than any other at instantly reducing my stress levels. It is my master list.
What is a master list?
You can call it a master list, a running list or that big bad list of everything. The main point is that it is a holding place for all the little details and to-dos and ideas that are rattling around in your mind. Instead of letting yourself get sidetracked constantly managing this information, trying to remember it all, worrying about things, you can relax a little knowing at least it is all captured on paper (or digitally).
How do you create a master list?
The point of the master list is not to prioritise your life or manage deadlines. It is a capture tool so the main method is always the wonderful “brain dump”.
When you start from scratch your first time simply take a few minutes to note anything and everything that is currently in progress, looming deadlines, ideas you have for your home and life, things you know are coming up, niggly tasks etc.
If you do this regularly you simply keep adding to your existing list. You can rewrite it occasionally if you are a paper and pen person and want a fresh list. Digital versions obviously allow for regular updates and a clean and organised list.
If you have specific areas that are huge projects you can use this tool to dump all the tasks down. If you were decluttering, organising and/or renovating a home you could go from room to room and add tasks that need to get done. For any projects you have going on you can use this to break them down into mini projects and action steps. When you are planning a trip it helps to just think through all aspects of what you will be doing, what you need to bring etc and just dump it all in one master list. You might not need to get cash at the ATM yet, but having it on the list will make sure when the time comes you remember to stop off before your departure.
Why does this list reduce my stress more than any other?
The first reason is simply knowing there is a place with every little thing captured. I don’t have the pressure to remember random tasks someone has asked me to do or that I have thought of, but won’t get to immediately. I review it regularly so I won’t miss anything.
Another way it helps is I use it to batch tasks. I read through the list and see if there are things that I can group by context. They might be from several areas that are not connected but the type of task connects them. So items like buy new umbrella for Alice, pick up spray paint for X project, and get photos printed could all be done on one errand / shopping run. Then when I scan my list for things to do that week I know when I am setting aside Thursday morning to run errands I have my errand list started already. I am not then running back to the shops two days later when I decide to start that DIY project.
Lastly it keeps my to do list / planner clear and not over filled with tasks. I only move a handful of tasks at a time onto my weekly planner and to do list daily planner. Many people make the mistake of treating their to do list as a master list and it can be overwhelming to see 20 things listed when really you will only get to 3 or 4 that day.
How do you use the master list?
I use the master list as my jumping off point when I am planning my week ahead.
As I am planning out the week I scan the list for items that are time sensitive and need to get done or items that I am able/want to tackle that week.
I can lock in the necessary blocks of time and check off those items.
I regularly read through my list and see if there is anything I no longer want/need to do or can delegate. If my husband mentions he is going to a store for something he needs and I have something on my master list I can pass that task onto him right then and there. If something has sat on my list for a long time maybe I don’t really want to do it or there is another task I need to do first (ie get some information to move things along).
What lists do you use? Do you keep a master list?
Find your simple,
Image credit: flickr user jking 89