In Categories, How to Live the Good Life

I’m a big lists person. I make lists all the time. The sad thing is making to do lists doesn’t seem to make me more organised.

To do lists

Far from it. Rather it seems to have the opposite effect because I have lists scrawled on scraps of paper in my handbag, a list of things to do in my desk diary, lists in various shorthand notebooks that I’ve just happened to have handy at the time, and now a list to end all lists on something called a Day Planner that I bought to satisfy my addiction for stationery.

The Day Planner is available at Office Works and suggests 6 principles of time management.

  1. Create a daily list of tasks
  2. Give each task a priority A,B,C
  3. Ensure that you work on the “A” tasks first
  4. Handle each piece of paper on your desk only once
  5. Ensure that you make the best use of your time
  6. Don’t postpone anything – Do it now!

I managed to fill two pages of that pristine, beautifully lined Day Planner with 32 tasks, of which I accomplished 7. I was gutted that I managed to finish so few of my ‘to do’ jobs. What was I doing instead? Search me. I reckon I would have accomplished more and felt better about myself without those 32 jobs squealing at me from the Day Planner.

I think I’m done with lists. Unless I can write them on pretty paper. I’m a sucker for pretty paper.

to do lists stationery

If you ask me lists have a lot to answer for.

  1. They make you feel guilty for not accomplishing everything you hoped to achieve.
  2. They especially make you feel guilty for putting off certain items which in reality you have no intention of ever doing because they are just Too Hard.
  3. They suck all the spontaneity from your day and deny any inspiration and exploration.
  4. They take a lot of time maintaining, which means you waste a lot of time crossing things out and re-writing others.
  5. Lists make your day feel like an obligation not an adventure in living Fabulously.
  6. A fresh list gives you the illusion that progress will be made, but in reality it sets you up for disappointment.

It’s true, I’ve written some strange things on lists in my time, but none so funny, weird, sad or strange as you might find at Grocery Lists  where there’s  a compilation of discarded grocery lists – the comments are a hoot and It’s an amusing glimpse into strangers’ lives – a sort of random sneak preview of what to expect if you went round for dinner.

If you must – some list making tips

In reality though we all have to get *shit* done. My fuddled old brain ain’t got no capacity for remembering stuff that didn’t get done last week, so I do need to make lists. Here are some tips that help me 🙂

  1. It it’s a daily list then keep it simple – you’re unlikely to achieve 32 complex things in a day! Stick to 5 or 10 ‘must-do’s’.
  2. Start the list with the most important tasks and make sure you tick them off first.
  3. Likewise, the things you don’t really want to do, but know that you should!
  4. Include some easy tasks, such as – make the bed, hang out the washing, wash the dishes – because ticking them off will make you feel productive and up for more!
  5. A list item such as ‘Work on my book’ isn’t explicit enough. Rather put – Write Chapter 1 or whatever.
  6. If your list includes telephoning people, then make sure you write their numbers down on the list so you have them ready.

A Random List from the Depths of my Handbag

Thinking about odd ball lists, I found a random list of mine from the depths of an old handbag, which prompted this post! In scrawly writing, let it be known at some time in my dark and distant past I needed to buy ….

  • Srpinkler (sic) – obviously for the lawn.
  • Black Pot – refer to the garden again, not a three legged cast iron African pot (had one for years)
  • Pole thingy for roller – WHAT was that? What was I doing?
  • Wire clamps and hooks – DOUBLE *WHAT*? Sounds gruesome. And I am no Mrs Fix-it .
  • Cockroach spray – Aha, there must have been a problem Houston.
  • Ant spray – As well?
  • Fruit – definitely a live life fabulously after fifty requirement
  • Milk
  • Vegetables
  • Wine (one with that pretty label)
  • Milk Thistle tablets – probably to counteract the wine.
  • And finally,
  • Loo Paper – aha the victory roll.

The role of paper vs technology

The way I see it writing something on paper can be looked at, lost and scrapped. I quite like that, but I don’t like the mess in my handbag, which could safely become a breeding ground for mice. Recording stuff on paper means it’s transient information, and you can edit it on the run, but preferably not when you’re changing gear and applying lipstick in the rear view mirror.

When you’re on the phone to someone boring you can doodle and draw all over your lists and make visual cues to remind you that some things are more important to accomplish than others and sometimes, if the thought of having to re-write the not-done bits of the list out again is so great, you might, just might achieve everything on it.

to do lists

As I’m a techno dinosaur, I still haven’t totally mastered writing a ‘To Do’ list on my computer or my phone, although I have installed and looked at fondly, an Editorial Calender plugin on WordPress.

The trouble with a list on my computer is that I’m so busy surfing the net and searching (read wasting time) for other gems of distraction and information that I completely ignore technological prompts, and unless someone can devise an App that yells, “Get off the sodding internet and get writing instead,” then I’ll probably never complete a To Do list whether it’s situated on my hard drive or not.

Oh crikey.  Maybe I should get stern with myself and write a To Do list today after all?

Now where’s that pretty stationery?

As I’m Lovin’ Life this Thursday morning I think it’s time for a little happy trip to buy some today 😉 Do you love pretty paper too? Do you have any list making tips?

Lovin’ Life Linky

It’s that time of week again … please join in, and please don’t forget to comment on the other posts 🙂

The Lovin’ Life Team includes:
Kathy from 50 Shades of Age
Deb from Debbish
Leanne from Deep Fried Fruit
and oh yes, Me! at Lifestyle Fifty

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Showing 29 comments
  • Alison

    So loved reading this and laughed out loud even though I am alone in the house(me time). Thanks for that. I am a list maker and yes only putting 5-10 things a day is the way to go. Also adding things you’ve already done gives it a boost

    • Johanna

      Thanks Alison! Glad I made you laugh, and inspired you a little bit to 🙂 Thanks for reminding me only 5 – 10 things – today I’ve just written down about 20. I need to simplify!

  • Life Images by Jill

    I’m a list girl too – there is no other way to organise my life – oh and my diary and my calendar. The calendar now sits on our breakfast table so we can consult it every morning over breakfast. My to do list sits in front of my computer, but inveribley gets covered with other bits of paper, and sometime later I find it. Yes computers, can surfing the net, can be a time waster. But seriously, I love the feeling of ticking things off on my list – completed, done, tick!
    Thanks for another fabulous post Jo. Tick! what’s next on my list….

    • Johanna

      Thanks Jill – and keep on with those ‘feel good’ lists and getting things ticked off!

  • [email protected]

    Jo, I’m sure that a love of lists is correlated with a love of pretty stationery! Nice paper or not, I think getting stuff done comes down to customising a system to suit ourselves. I adapted Kelly Exeter’s ‘2 pads and a calendar’, which can be found here and found it quite transformational.

    • Johanna

      Ohh thanks for reminding me Jo. I also love love love Kelly’s ideas for keeping organised 🙂

  • kathymarris

    I am a great list maker. I bought this great notepad with “to do” list items, plus you can list how much water you drink, how much exercise you’ve done, what you’ve eaten and also a “to buy” list. I love it because it is an all-in-one list. It does keep me on task during the day and I try not to be too unrealistic about what I can achieve in a day. I haven’t mastered the electronic “to do” list yet, but I should learn one day.

    • Johanna

      I think the electronic to-do list takes a shift in mindset, don’t you Kathy? I still like my lists where I can see them all the time, but maybe I’d be more productive if I couldn’t see them – maybe that makes you concentrate on one job at a time more perhaps?

  • Robyna

    I AM such an unrealistic list maker – I put down 20 things, that I know will take at least 20 minutes – 60 minutes each, and think that I’ll get them all done in a day 🙂

  • seizetheday20

    I love a good list too Jo. I still use a paper diary and EVERYTHING gets written in it. It helps me stay on top of things. If it’s not in the diary, it can sometimes be forgotten 🙁 #TeamLovinLife

  • Leanne @ Deep Fried Fruit

    I’m a HUGE LISTS GIRL. Meaning I am HUGE on making lists and I make HUGE lists (hopefully not that I’m actually a HUGE lists GIRL). The best thing about my lists is that I do actually get it all done. I’m committed to the list … (which I guess can also be my downfall).

    • Johanna

      Wow, I’m impressed Leanne! But it’s no surprise that for someone with such high productivity as you, that organisation, lists and getting things done is par for the course 🙂 Go You!

  • robjodiefilogomo

    I’m kinda a list girl too! although I really enjoy finishing one so I can throw it out.
    I heard once that the actual process of writing things down helps you remember things. As opposed to typing it either on your computer or phone—so yippee for pretty paper!!

    • Johanna

      Yes, I think the very act of writing something down can better cement something in our heads Jodie!

  • Reply

    I love pretty notepads too. Hubster is a real list keeper, but like you have noticed with yourself, he is realising it doesn’t actually help him be organised. He spends all his time on the lists, not on the tasks. The only time I really make a list is when I have a busy mind especially at night – I scribble things down so they are out of my head and I know they’ll be there in the morning for me to deal with!

    • Johanna

      I also do that Janet 🙂 Much better by my bedside than in my head keeping me awake at night. I have also been known to write in the dark 😉

  • Deborah

    I love to-do lists as they help me feel in control but… I get overly stressed when I don’t achieve them and then struggle with guilt and tend to give up completely!

    • Johanna

      Yes, Deb! It can very much be a double edged sword!

  • Vanessa

    Lists are sometimes good for a big brain dump for me, but if they are too long then it moves to that obligation sense and that’s just never good 🙂

    • Johanna

      Agree Vanessa – sometimes a long list induces a case of overwhelm.

  • Deb

    I cannot live without lists. Make a weekly plan and the. Pull items/errands etc to each day so it is all covered but the daily list is short and doable.
    And I love paper and gorgeous stationery.

    • Johanna

      I’m such a one for lovely stationery too!

  • Linda

    Testing back!!!
    Yes – we have lift off 😀
    I think the only way things ‘to do’ really get done is when there’s a hard and fast deadline on it –
    One that can’t be wriggled out of, like leaving for a road trip to Tasmania tomorrow (yet I’m still finding time to read your post and write a comment – haha! :/ )
    Have you seen Tim Urban’s Ted Talk ‘Inside the Mind of a Master Procrastinator’ – I loved the illustrations – so funny and so true!!

    • Johanna

      Hi Linda, Yay! At last. It took me a while to figure out! Haha you, and off to Tassie tomorrow – have FUN! I’m going to seek out Tim Urban’s Ted Talk – I bet I’m going to giggle!

  • Johanna

    I’ve just found out there’s been a problem with the comments section, which I’ve managed to fix (Phew!) This might have put quite a few of you off commenting, so I’m sorry for wasting anyone’s time. This could have been happening for quite a few days without me knowing, although I did wonder why the comments had dropped off. Please continue commenting – it means so much to me to know you’re out there 🙂

  • Johanna

    testing comments section

  • Johanna


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