Lists can make life more manageable

Unlike my husband, who gets so much done without a “to do” list at all, I am the queen of the list-makers.
Some people write their lists on paper, others have their lists in their Palm Pilots. Some store their lists in their heads.
I store my lists in my computer.
I have a list of movies to rent and a list of our movie library downstairs. A grocery list and a separate list for our local organic store. A list of thank-you notes to write and a list of e-mails to answer.
A list of menus and a list of the categories of books in my library. A Colorado list that reminds me of everything we have to take for our yearly trek to the Rockies.
A list of what is in my freezer and a running list of my cholesterol scores since 2001.
Sometimes it seems all I do is make lists. And I usually have a very long “to do” list. Last Thursday, for instance, I counted 82 items. Obviously, not all for one day—some were just Christmas gifts that I have to buy before December.
But even then, a list of 82 things to do is very overwhelming.
That’s probably the reason why I was intrigued by the book “Checklists for Life” by Kirsten Lagatree. The subtitle is “104 Lists to Help You Get Organized, Save Time, and Unclutter Your Life.”
And who doesn’t need that help?
The 104 lists include helpful lists like what to keep in your medicine cabinet, what to keep in your safe deposit box, what to keep in a first aid kit, and what to do when your wallet is stolen.
The best and worst places to hide valuables, what to carry in your car, how to stock a pantry, and how to cure your dying houseplants. Those lists can help you become more organized and help you not miss anything important.
I especially like the list entitled: “Bare Minimum Housework: From Pigsty to Presentable in Six Steps.”
The first step is to close the door on any messes. Then go around each room, with a small basket in one hand and a trash bag in the other, getting rid of clutter.
Next dust, fluff the pillows, and either vacuum or pick up any dead leaves and obvious pieces of lint from the floor. Finally, speed-clean the bathroom.
In only five or 10 minutes, you have a presentable house!
“Show me a successful person and I’ll show you a list-maker,” says Lagatree. “Lists ensure that the job gets done correctly and completely—and with the added finesse that springs from an uncluttered mind.”
But Lagatree warns, “Keeping a list in your head doesn’t count!”
So even if you aren’t a natural born list-maker, why not start writing down your “to do” list today. And make sure you resist the urge to make it a catch-all that becomes overwhelming.
My friend, Jeanine, is an excellent role model. Every morning when she comes to the pool, she has a list of six things to accomplish that day. And she testifies that she always gets all six done!
By making focused lists and following through with them, you, too, can have a sense of accomplishment at the close of each day.
Marie Snider is an award-winning health care writer and syndicated columnist. Write her at or visit

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